The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Mahtani, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT) January 18, 2022
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2:12 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Moderna should have data on Omicron-specific vaccine in March, company CEO says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

A pharmacist prepares a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic on December 29 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. 
A pharmacist prepares a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic on December 29 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  Charles Krupa/AP

Moderna should have data available on its Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine in March, company CEO Stéphane Bancel said Monday. 

“It should be in the clinic in the coming weeks. And we're hoping in the March timeframe, we should be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out the next step forward,” he said in a panel conversation at Davos.

“That’s always been a great partnership between public health experts, the regulators and vaccine makers to figure out what's the best path,” he said.

“For two years, we've all worked literally, you know, seven days a week together to figure out how to fight this common enemy of the virus. The enemy is not another company or another group. The enemy has only been the virus and will stay the virus.”
1:31 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Tell us if you have tried to get a free at-home Covid-19 tests at a retailer

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Many Americans can now get at-home Covid-19 tests at no cost through their private insurance. They can obtain the tests from pharmacies, retailers and online vendors.

The program, which began Saturday, is part of the Biden administration's effort to increase access to testing around the US.

But some people are having trouble getting the free tests and many Medicare enrollees are discovering that they don't qualify.

If you've tried to obtain home Covid-19 tests at no cost, share your story with us. You could be featured in an upcoming story.

5:33 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Djokovic must comply with local health rules to compete in Madrid Open, Spain's prime minister says 

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid 

Tennis star Novak Djokovic arrives in Belgrade Monday.
Tennis star Novak Djokovic arrives in Belgrade Monday. Darko Bandic/AP

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has to comply with Spain's health rules to be able to compete in Madrid Open that kicks off in late April, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday.

Sanchez lauded Australia’s decision to deport Djokovic, saying he has "total respect for the decision of the Australian government." 

“The rules are there to comply with and no one is above the rules. And if those are the rules that the Australian government has approved, then they have to be allowed,” he said. 

Spain currently requires visitors to show proof of full vaccination, a recent PCR negative test within 72 hours before arrival or a certificate of having recovered from Covid-19, according to its health ministry. 

International sporting events in the country may add additional rules for participants such as Covid-19 testing on a daily basis during the tournament, a senior government official told CNN on Monday.

Hear what Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic had to say about Djokovic getting deported:

12:27 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Greece's vaccine mandate goes into effect for those aged 60 and over                                  

From CNN’s Chris Liakos

A man wearing a face mask sits on a bench as pedestrians walk outside Evangelismos hospital in Athens, Greece, Monday, January 17, 2022.
A man wearing a face mask sits on a bench as pedestrians walk outside Evangelismos hospital in Athens, Greece, Monday, January 17, 2022. Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

A vaccine mandate for those aged 60 years and is now in effect in Greece.

Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou suggested the mandate had helped get that group vaccinated.

“It is important that 90%, nine out of 10, of our fellow citizens over the age of 60, have now been vaccinated. Almost half of those who were unvaccinated, when the mandate was announced, made ... the choice to get vaccinated,” he said during a news briefing.

“We call on those who are still skeptical to make the same choice as soon as possible. Not only to escape the fine, but mainly to protect themselves against serious illness. That, after all, was the goal of the mandate and that is what we are aiming for. Mandatory vaccination is a means of individual and collective protection,” Oikonomou added. “In any case, as the deadline for their vaccination has expired, the law will be applied in full."

The mandate, which came into effect midnight Sunday into Monday Greek time, does not apply to those who have exemption approval due to health reasons and does not impose fines on those who need to be vaccinated at home and are awaiting for a slot. 

11:18 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Milley tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Barbara Starr

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley tested positive for Covid-19 Sunday and “is experiencing very minor symptoms,” Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement Monday. 

Milley “is working remotely and isolating himself from contact with others,” Butler said, adding that the top US general “can perform all of his duties from the remote location.” 

“He has received the Covid-19 vaccines including the booster,” Butler said.

According to the statement, Milley most recently had contact with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Gen. Raymond Odierno’s funeral.

“He tested negative several days prior to and every day following contact with the President until yesterday,” Butler said.

“All other Joint Chiefs of Staff except for one tested negative for COVID-19 yesterday,” he said.

11:09 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Moderna: Combined Covid-19 and flu booster could be available by fall 2023

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Monday, January 17, 2022, that a combined Covid-19 and flu booster shot from Moderna could be available in some countries by fall 2023. Vials of the Moderna Inc. Covid-19 vaccine is seen in this file photo dated December 28, 2021.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Monday, January 17, 2022, that a combined Covid-19 and flu booster shot from Moderna could be available in some countries by fall 2023. Vials of the Moderna Inc. Covid-19 vaccine is seen in this file photo dated December 28, 2021. Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A combined Covid-19 and flu booster shot from Moderna could be available in some countries by fall 2023 at the earliest, CEO Stéphane Bancel said Monday.

Speaking at the Davos Agenda, a virtual event being held this week by the World Economic Forum, Bancel said this date was a “best case scenario,” but that he believed it was possible for some countries next year.

He explained it was a goal for the company to have a single annual booster shot available to avoid “compliance issues” where people are wary about getting multiple shots every winter.

9:25 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Paris police orders masks to be worn in outdoor markets and other crowded areas

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in Paris

Visitors wear protective masks at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, in this file photo dated January 12, 2022.
Visitors wear protective masks at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, in this file photo dated January 12, 2022. Nathan Laine/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Masks are to be worn outside in certain crowded areas in Paris, the prefecture police announced Monday. 

The new decree imposes obligatory wearing of masks in areas where "the density of people does not guarantee, without the wearing of masks, the proper upholding of barrier measures," the prefecture statement said, referring to acts like social distancing against Covid-19 infections. 

According to the statement, masks should be worn in outdoor markets, at rallies or gatherings of 10 or more people in public, when waiting for public transport or outside stations and malls, as well as outside teaching and cultural institutions. 

This comes after Paris’ administrative tribunal ruled on Thursday that the city-wide outdoors mask mandate was “disproportionate." Courts in the towns of Versailles and Nantes also ruled against city-wide mask mandates last week.

8:22 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022

China will not sell tickets for Winter Olympics to general public due to Covid-19 

From CNN's Beijing Bureau

\Workers set up Winter Olympics-themed installation at Dongdan area on January 14, 2022 in Beijing, China.
\Workers set up Winter Olympics-themed installation at Dongdan area on January 14, 2022 in Beijing, China. Jiang Qiming/China News Service/Getty Images

Tickets for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics will not be sold to the general public in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee announced Monday. Instead, they will be distributed by authorities.

“In terms of the grim and complex situation of epidemic prevention and control [and] in order to protect the health and safety of Olympic personnel and spectators, we have decided to change the original plan of public ticket sales," the committee announced. 

"Given the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators, it has been decided that tickets should not be sold anymore but be part of an adapted programme that will invite groups of spectators to be present on site during the Games," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement published Monday.

This announcement comes after the Chinese capital reported its first case of the highly transmissible Omicron variant on Saturday.

The prevention control policy issued in September had already restricted ticket sales to only spectators residing in mainland China and who met the requirements of the Covid-19 countermeasures. 

Audiences will still be required to "strictly comply with Covid-19 prevention and control requirements before, during and after watching the Games,” the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee added. 

The Games are set to begin Friday, Feb. 4.

10:00 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022

Unvaccinated adults will face fines under Austria's new vaccine mandate

From CNN's Nina Avramova in London

Austria will implement a wide-ranging Covid-19 vaccine mandate, which includes fines for unvaccinated adults, from February 1.

The government announced last November that a vaccine mandate was necessary to address the low vaccination rate in the country. The first draft of the law was published in December, and a revised draft was published Monday and is now going through parliament. 

Everyone age 18 and over living in Austria must be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the latest draft. A few groups of people are exempt, such as pregnant people, people recovered from a Covid-19 infection (who are exempt for 180 days from a positive PCR test), and people who cannot be vaccinated without endangering their health. 

“The mandatory vaccination isn’t coming in a sudden way, instead it is coming in a phased approach,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told public broadcaster ORF Sunday.

No fines will be issued during the initial phase, which lasts until mid-March, said Nehammer. From March 15, law enforcement will start checking if people are adhering to the new law, for example by examining their vaccination status during traffic controls.

People face fines of up to €600 ($685) if they don’t possess a vaccine certificate or an exemption. So-called “reminder dates” can also be set, on which people are reminded through a letter to get vaccinated.

In the third stage of the mandate, these reminder dates will be followed up with “vaccine dates.” People who haven't got shots or an exemption by then will be issued with fines.

There will be two “vaccine dates” each year. A person can be given a maximum of four fines annually, which would total €2,400 ($2,741).

The vaccine mandate is planned to last until January 31, 2024 and it will be continually assessed until then, according to the Austrian health ministry.