October 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Tara John, Ed Upright, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020
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7:52 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Fauci thinks the US should mandate mask use as the pandemic persists

From CNN's Andrea Kane

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country should probably mandate mask use, even if people complain about the trouble with enforcing it.

“If everyone agrees that this is something that's important, and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and say, you know, 'We're going to mandate it but let's just do it'. I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,” he said Friday on CNN. “I get the argument, say, ‘Well, if you mandate a mask, then you're going to have to enforce it and that'll create more of a problem.’ Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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6:50 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Returning to remote learning was "one of the hardest decisions," Boston mayor says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal 

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh speaks with CNN on Friday, October 23.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh speaks with CNN on Friday, October 23. CNN

Making the decision to switch all Boston public schools to remote learning starting Thursday following a rise in Covid-19 cases was “probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make since the coronavirus pandemic began,” Mayor Marty Walsh told CNN.

Boston’s seven-day Covid-19 positivity rate had increased from last week’s rate of 4.5% to 5.7% 

“We just felt that it was a little on the edge there for us to continue to have in-person learning for high-need students. It was a really difficult decision,” he said Friday.

Families will be provided with in-home services and locations throughout the district are giving out meals for these kids, the mayor added. The increase in positivity rate took the mayor by surprise, he admits, adding that people are relaxing their coronavirus safety measures.

“We are seeing a lot of house parties, both in and outdoors. We’re seeing 25-30 people there, and that’s a problem. We are seeing people a little lackadaisical with their masks, maybe putting them down around their chin and not having their nose covered. That’s a problem,” he said.

5:43 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Johnson & Johnson is taking steps to resume its US Covid-19 vaccine trial

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials for a single-dose Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the company.
This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials for a single-dose Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the company. Cheryl Gerber/Johnson & Johnson via AP

Johnson & Johnson said Friday the independent monitoring board overseeing its phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial in the United States has recommended resuming the trial, which was paused earlier this month after a participant became ill.

Preparations to resume the trial in the US are now underway, the company said, including submissions for approval by Institutional Review Boards. Johnson & Johnson’s statement did not specify when the trial would begin again. 

Some context: The trial was put on hold Oct. 12 due to a study participant's "unexplained illness," the company said. Johnson & Johnson said Friday “no clear cause” was identified for a trial participant’s “serious medical event.”

“There are many possible factors that could have caused the event. Based on the information gathered to date and the input of independent experts, the company has found no evidence that the vaccine candidate caused the event,” the company’s statement said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial started Sept. 23 with a plan to recruit 60,000 patients in eight countries, including the United States. In its statement Friday, Johnson & Johnson’s said discussions with regulators around the world are “progressing.”

The trial’s full safety and efficacy results will be shared when the trial concludes, the company said.

During an Operation Warp Speed briefing on Friday, US Health and Human Services Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Paul Mango said they were “very optimistic” the Johnson & Johnson trial would resume “as quickly as possible.”

  

4:30 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Resumption of AstraZeneca's Coid-19 vaccine trial is "good news," Operation Warp Speed officials say

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The resumption of AstraZeneca’s paused coronavirus vaccine trial is good news, Operation Warp Speed officials said Friday.

“We recognize that this is good news,” said Dr. Matthew Hepburn, who helps coordinate vaccine efforts for the federal government’s coronavirus response.

Some context: AstraZeneca said Friday the US Food and Drug Administration had cleared it to resume its phase 3 clinical trial in the US after it was paused last month when a volunteer in the United Kingdom developed a serious health condition.

The company restarted its trials in other countries but the US arms have been on hold while the Food and Drug Administration examined safety data. 

“This process of rigorous evaluation of the safety for each volunteer, particularly in this trial, was closely followed,” Hepburn said during a briefing.

“This is going to be the most scrutinized vaccine ever produced,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams added.

  

4:22 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

NIH director says Covid-19 vaccine authorization "might not happen" by end of year

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, is seen after a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9, 2020 in Washington DC. 
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, is seen after a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9, 2020 in Washington DC.  Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

While he remains "cautiously optimistic" that the United States could have a Covid-19 vaccine authorized by the end of the year, the National Institutes of Health's Dr. Francis Collins warned on Friday that "it might take longer."

"I’m cautiously optimistic that by the end of 2020, there will be at least one vaccine that has reached that stage of an emergency use authorization but I don't know that for sure — and it might not happen and it might take longer," Collins, director of the NIH, said while speaking to the National Press Club in a virtual event on Friday. 

Collins added that it remains "a good thing" the US has more than one vaccine candidate in development.

"It’s a good thing we have this menu of diverse scientific approaches," Collins said. "If you were betting the whole thing on one vaccine I'd be a lot more worried."

Additionally, a potential Covid-19 vaccine will need to have at least 50% effectiveness to be considered for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, Collins said.

"FDA is not going to approve a vaccine that has less than 50% effectiveness," he added.

3:46 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

AstraZeneca will resume its Covid-19 vaccine trial in the US

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Drugmaker AstraZeneca will resume the trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in the United States, which has been on hold since September.

The company said the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the restart Thursday after reviewing all of the global safety data and concluding it was safe to resume. The trial had already resumed in other countries.

The trial was paused after a volunteer in Britain developed a neurological condition suffered by one of the participants in its coronavirus vaccine clinical trials around the world.

Government health officials, as well as outside experts, have said the hold is an example of how the safety process is working and protecting Americans from any potentially dangerous vaccines. Regulators wanted to check to make sure any problems could not have been caused by the vaccine. 

The company has been working with Britain’s University of Oxford to develop the vaccine, one of four that started late-stage, Phase 3 trials in the US.

An internal AstraZeneca safety report obtained by CNN last month showed the study volunteer, a previously healthy 37-year-old woman, “experienced confirmed transverse myelitis” after receiving her second dose of the vaccine, and was hospitalized on Sept. 5. The woman was enrolled in the UK arm of the trial, which is run by the University of Oxford.  

The document, labeled an “initial report,” described how the study participant had trouble walking, weakness and pain in her arms, and other symptoms. 

The company said in the release Thursday that results from late-stage trials are expected later this year, depending on infection rates where the trials are being conducted.

4:32 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Covid-19 "could be here for years" if only half of Americans take the vaccine, NIH director says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A volunteer receives a COVID-19 vaccination from RN Jose Muniz as part of a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on August 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida.
A volunteer receives a COVID-19 vaccination from RN Jose Muniz as part of a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on August 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The percentage of Americans willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine appears to be falling – and if only half of the country is willing to get vaccinated, Covid-19 could stick around for years, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, warned on Friday.

"When I look at the attitudes that are out there now about this vaccine and about who would be interested in taking it – it's really, really troubling," Collins said, speaking at a National Press Club in a virtual event.

"I've been talking so optimistically about how we are likely to have a vaccine by the end of the year, but if only 50% of Americans are interested in taking it, we're never going to get to that point of immunity across the population where Covid-19 goes away. It could be here for years," Collins said.

Only 51% of Americans said they would try to get a Covid-19 vaccine once one is widely available at a low cost, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS earlier this month, and that percentage has dropped since May.

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4:03 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Colombia's vice president tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Jaide Garcia and Stefano Pozzebon

Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice President of Colombia, on May 14, 2019 in Bogota, Colombia.
Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice President of Colombia, on May 14, 2019 in Bogota, Colombia. Gabriel Aponte/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez confirmed she tested positive for Covid-19 on her Twitter account Friday.

"Yesterday I took the #COVID19 test," she tweeted. "I inform all Colombians that the test result was positive. Thank God, I am in a good state [of health] and I am complying with a thorough quarantine."

The vice president called on all Colombians to remain steadfast in following the biosecurity measures put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, adding that the "pandemic is a reality, which can affect us all."

Colombia has 990,373 confirmed cases and 29,637 deaths as of Friday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. This is the third highest case tally in Latin America after Brazil and Argentina.

3:49 p.m. ET, October 23, 2020

France sets new record for Covid-19 infections​ with more than 42,000 new cases in 24 hours

From Fanny Bobille

French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd L) chairs a meeting with the medical staff of the René Dubos hospital center, in Pontoise, in the Val d'Oise, on October 23, 2020, as the country faces a new wave of infections to the Covid-19.
French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd L) chairs a meeting with the medical staff of the René Dubos hospital center, in Pontoise, in the Val d'Oise, on October 23, 2020, as the country faces a new wave of infections to the Covid-19. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

France reported a new daily record for coronavirus infections with 42,032 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to numbers released by country's health agency on Friday.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in France to 1,041,075, according to French government statistics, and marks the first time the government's coronavirus case tally has surpassed 1 million. 

France also recorded 298 additional coronavirus deaths, bringing the death toll to 34,508, according to the French Health Agency. 

According to government data, an additional 976 coronavirus patients have been admitted to the hospital, and a further 122 coronavirus patients entered intensive care in the last 24 hours. 

Speaking at a health center this afternoon, French President Emmanuel Macron said he expects France will have to live with the virus until at least the summer of 2021.

"When I listen to the scientists, and the Scientific Council, we foresee [living with the virus] at best until next summer," Macron said. "It is still too early to say whether we are moving towards wider local re-confinements, we will try each time to reduce the places, the moments when we have identified that the virus was circulating a lot. This is the strategy we will pursue."

Macron added that the government aims to implement new restrictions in the most targeted way possible. 

From midnight on Friday, France's nighttime coronavirus curfew will be extended more widely, with 46 million French people affected, announced French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday. 

To note: According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, France has recorded 1,048,924 coronavirus cases and 34,236 deaths. CNN's Paris Bureau is working on clarifying the discrepancy between state statistics and the university's numbers.