The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Kara Fox and Harry Clarke-Ezzidio, CNN

Updated 8:51 p.m. ET, December 31, 2020
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11:48 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

China has administered 3 million doses of coronavirus vaccines since December 15

From CNN's Nectar Gan

A staff member tests samples of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine at a China National Pharmaceutical Group plant in Beijing, on April 11, 2020. 
A staff member tests samples of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine at a China National Pharmaceutical Group plant in Beijing, on April 11, 2020.   Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua/Getty

China has drastically scaled up its emergency use program in recent weeks, officials revealed Thursday as they announced the approval of the country's first homegrown coronavirus vaccine, developed by Sinopharm.

Since December 15, the country has administered more than 3 million doses of coronavirus vaccines on "key groups" in the population, Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of China's National Health Commission, said at a news conference Thursday. He did not identify who those groups were.

That's on top of the more than 1.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines administered to "high-risk groups" as of the end of November, Zeng added.

Among those who have been inoculated, fewer than 0.1% developed a light fever, and about two people per million developed "relative serious adverse reactions" such as allergies, according to Zeng.

China rolled out its controversial emergency use program in July, inoculating hundreds of thousands of people with experimental vaccines that did not have their safety and efficacy proven in clinical trials. People who received the vaccines include healthcare workers, border control personnel and state-owned company employees who needed to travel overseas.

9:42 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

China approves Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Beijing bureau

Chinese regulators have approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, officials announced Thursday.

Sinopharm said yesterday its coronavirus vaccine is 79.34% effective, citing interim analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials.

Though few details were provided, the company said the vaccine met the standards of the World Health Organization and China's own regulator, the National Medical Products Administration.

Read more about the Sinopharm vaccine:

8:01 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

The United States reported 125,220 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 29th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations. 

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers are:

  • Dec. 30: 125,220
  • Dec. 29: 124,686
  • Dec. 28: 121,235
  • Dec. 24: 120,151
  • Dec. 23: 119,463
7:52 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

UK Covid-19 variant confirmed in San Diego, California

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks

The new Covid-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has been detected in a Covid-19 patient in San Diego, California, county supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Wednesday during a news conference. 

"About an hour ago, the governor in a joint appearance with Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed that a UK variant case had been detected in the state of California and I can confirm that that case is in fact a patient in San Diego," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the patient is a 30-year-old man with no travel history that started developing Covid-related symptoms on Dec. 27. 

7:46 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

New CDC forecast projects up to 424,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Jan. 23

From CNN's Amanda Sealy

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 383,000 to 424,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Jan. 23.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published Dec. 23, projected up to 419,000 coronavirus deaths by Jan. 16.

At least 341,845 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

9:32 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Los Angeles County surpasses 10,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Los Angeles County reported 274 new fatalities related to coronavirus, surpassing a total of 10,000 deaths, health officials confirmed in a news conference on Wednesday.

The county broke its previous record of 227 deaths on Tuesday. 

“The terrible reality is that the average number of people dying each day from Covid-19 illness, as noted by Supervisor Solis, is about 150 people a day,” L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

Ferrer also noted that the high number is due to a backlog associated with an outage.

According to Ferrer, the number of people dying from the virus is as high as the average number of people dying each day from every other cause, which is about 170 people.

Mortuaries across the county are filling up and they are struggling to find space for Covid victims, Department of Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said.

More data: The daily positivity rate in the county is about 20% and over 7,000 people are hospitalized, Ferrer said.

While the new Covid-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has not been reported in Los Angeles County, she said, “this doesn’t mean the variant is not circulating in L.A. County.”

She explained that the variant was not found in the first set of samples that were tested.

To date, the county has a total of 756,116 coronavirus cases and 10,056 deaths.

7:50 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

There is no sign that a bill on $2,000 checks is going to get a vote in the Senate

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Things are going to drag on in the Senate for a few days.

Bottom line: There is absolutely no sign right now that a standalone bill on $2,000 checks is going to get a vote on the Senate floor. It looks like McConnell is simply going to run out the clock. There were several opportunities on Tuesday when McConnell could have made that assurance or let Democrats pass the bill with a unanimous consent agreement that would have shielded his members from having to take a potentially tough vote.

McConnell blocked those efforts.

Instead, he gave himself an out card down the line -- and only if he needs one -- by placing on the calendar a bill that would tie a repeal of Section 230 to increasing direct stimulus payments to $2,000 for Americans under a certain income level. The Kentucky Republican may never bring it up. It's there just in case he needs to put something on the floor. Democrats were furious. And there's nothing they can do about it.

Meanwhile: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted Tuesday evening that direct payments to Americans were expected to begin arriving immediately. These would be the $600 payments included in the relief package President Donald Trump signed on Sunday evening.

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