November 10 coronavirus news

By Zamira Rahim, Stephanie Halasz, Ben Westcott, Steve George, Emma Reynolds, CNN

Updated 12:04 AM ET, Wed November 11, 2020
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11:35 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

EU to authorize contract for up to 300 million doses of Pfizer vaccine

From CNN's James Frater in London

A healthcare worker holds a syringe from the Phase 3 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, on October 27.
A healthcare worker holds a syringe from the Phase 3 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, on October 27. Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The European Union will authorize a contract on Wednesday for up to 300 million doses of a candidate vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced. 

“Once this vaccine becomes available, our plan is to deploy it quickly, everywhere in Europe,” von der Leyen said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“This will be the fourth contract with a pharmaceutical company to buy vaccines. And more will come. Because we need to have a broad portfolio of vaccines based on different technologies." 

The EU’s announcement comes after drug giant Pfizer announced Monday that an early look at data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective – a much-better-than-expected efficacy.

“This is the most promising vaccine so far. A safe and effective vaccine is our best chance to beat coronavirus and return to our normal lives,” von der Leyen said, highlighting that the EU had already begun working with member states to prepare national vaccine campaigns. 

We are almost there. In the meantime, let us be prudent, and stay safe,” she said. 

The European Commission has also signed contracts for vaccines with drug giants Sanofi-GSK, Astra Zeneca and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.

11:19 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Wales cancels end-of-year school exams for 2021

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

Wales has cancelled end-of-year school exams for students in 2021 out of “fairness,” the country’s Education Minister Kirsty Williams said on Tuesday, following controversy over an an algorithm that was used to determine results in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

The pandemic has disrupted school life across the United Kingdom, and many students responded with anger over the algorithm, which was used for A-levels, final high school exams that help determine student's eligibility for university courses.

“The time learners will spend in schools and colleges will vary hugely, and in this situation it is impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place. We will instead work with schools to take forward teacher-managed assessments,” Williams said in a statement. 

The changes affect students set to take three types of high school exams, known as GCSEs, AS levels and A levels, next summer.

The decision follows Scotland’s announcement on October 7 to cancel National 5 exams - the first set of exams high school students are required to sit.

England maintains that its exams will go ahead in 2021, but the government plans to delay them by three weeks to give students more time to prepare

11:01 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Fact check: Who deserves credit for Pfizer's vaccine announcement?

From CNN's Daniel Dale

Drug giant Pfizer sparked a stock market rally with its Monday announcement that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective, based on early data. It also kicked off a battle over who deserves credit for the preliminary good news.

US President Donald Trump's administration was quick to applaud itself.

Others, however, pointed to the fact that Pfizer's senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, Kathrin Jansen, publicly distanced the company from the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative. Jansen was quoted Monday by The New York Times as saying: "We were never part of the Warp Speed. We have never taken any money from the US government, or from anyone."

The real story is more nuanced than both Pence's tweet and Jansen's comment made it sound.

Facts FirstPfizer's vaccine progress is certainly not solely attributable to the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed public-private partnership program. But it was not accurate for Pfizer to suggest that it is operating entirely apart from Operation Warp Speed; the company has a major agreement to sell at least 100 million doses to the federal government, and Pfizer acknowledged in a Monday statement to CNN that it is in fact "participating" in Operation Warp Speed through this deal. Also, at least some independent experts say the Trump administration deserves partial credit for Pfizer's progress.

But there's more to the story. Read here for the facts:

9:54 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Moscow restricts nightlife as Russia cases surge

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Medical workers treat a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit of a temporary hospital in Moscow, on November 9.
Medical workers treat a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit of a temporary hospital in Moscow, on November 9. Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

Moscow is introducing a new set of coronavirus restrictions amid a record-breaking surge in new infections, the city's mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced Tuesday in a blog post.

The measures will be in force for two months, from November 13 until January 15, 2021. They impose significant restrictions on the city's social scene.

Under the new rules, entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants will close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Takeout and food delivery can still operate 24 hours a day, the statement added.

Sobyanin said that university and college students would switch to distance learning, bringing them in line with middle and high school students, who have been taking classes online for the past several weeks.

Most indoor venues for children, such as entertainment centers in malls, will be closed for the time being.

Theaters, concert halls and cinemas will be required to cap audiences at 25% capacity, while the organizers of mass sports events will need to secure special permission from local health authorities to host spectators.

"For two and a half months there has been a real fight against this disaster, a fight for health and lives of Muscovites,” Sobyanin wrote. 
"A week ago, the infection rate seemed to have stabilized at a high but still non-critical level. However, in recent days, we again saw a significant growth … and unfortunately in the coming weeks we might see the situation worsening."

On Monday, Moscow officially reported 6,897 new cases of coronavirus, the highest increase since the start of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the city accounted for 5,902 cases among 20,977 new infections registered across Russia.

9:35 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Hospitals in Swedish capital under "great strain" as cases surge

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Hospitals in the Swedish capital Stockholm are struggling to cope with a sharp increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the regional health authority. 

Björn Eriksson, Stockholm’s regional healthcare director, said that hospitals were having to postpone certain planned procedures, but he assured the public that they were ready to take care of all Covid-19 patients.

Sweden took a sharply different approach to its European neighbours in its Covid-19 response in the spring. The country did not enter lockdown and instead issued guidance to citizens, urging them to practice social distancing and personal hygiene. Its coronavirus death toll during the spring was one of the highest in the world per capita.

The regional health authority reports that 349 patients are in hospital in Stockholm, an increase of 76 from the end of last week. The numbers may appear low, but Sweden currently has an infection rate of approximately 346 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than Finland (53), Denmark (254) and Norway (112), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s latest data. 

“The strain on our emergency hospitals is great,” Eriksson said.
“We consider the situation to be serious and are increasing coordination within the Stockholm Region in order to continue to be one step ahead in our planning so that healthcare capacity increases faster than healthcare needs.”

Sweden has tightened its guidance this month, limiting the number of people gathering in restaurants and bars as cases surge.

As of Friday, Sweden has registered 6,022 Covid-19 related deaths and a total of 146,461 cases, according to official health data. 

9:05 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Europe hopeful over vaccine as region feels pain of renewed lockdowns

From CNN's Nada Bashir

A couple walk by The Louvre Museum during a government-imposed lockdown on November 6 in Paris .
A couple walk by The Louvre Museum during a government-imposed lockdown on November 6 in Paris . Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

European countries have welcomed Pfizer's announcement that it believes its vaccine is more than 90% effective with relief, as much of the region remains under lockdown. Here's what's happening in some countries:


German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Pfizer's announcement, based on early data, was “very encouraging" and that he was “very pleased” that a German research and development team played a role. German company BiOnTech has been Pfizer's partner in the vaccine's development.

Germany has registered 15,332 new coronavirus cases since Monday, as well as 154 further coronavirus-related deaths. The country's total death toll now stands at 11,506 according to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 


A French government spokesperson said Tuesday that it was too early to propose a “loosening of the rules” on coronavirus restrictions in France. The spokesperson added that while there is some evidence that restrictive measures imposed by the government “might be having an impact,” the country must remain “cautious."

The spokesperson’s remarks come just a day after France’s National Health Agency Director Jérôme Salomon said that the country’s second wave of Covid-19 had yet to peak.


Five more local regions in Italy have been declared "orange zones," meaning tighter restrictions will come into effect in the areas starting Wednesday and last for at least two weeks.

The regions of Abruzzo, Umbria, Toscana, Liguria and Basilicata will see “non-essential” shops close, and bars and restaurants will be limited to serving takeaway only. People will also be restricted from leaving their towns of residence.


The government of Portugal imposed a two-week state of emergency in 121 municipalities on Monday, mostly concentrated around the country's two largest cities, Lisbon and Porto. In those municipalities, a mandatory curfew between 11p.m. and 5a.m. local time has been introduced, with an extension from 1p.m. – 5a.m. over the weekend. 

Mandatory body temperature checks will be carried out when accessing workplaces, schools, universities and public transport, as well as commercial, cultural and sports venues.

It is now also compulsory to wear a face mask in all public areas, including outside if social distancing is impossible to maintain.

8:33 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Danish government backtracks on Covid-19 order to cull healthy mink

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen and Mick Krever

Minks sit in a cage at a farm where a government order required all minks to be culled on November 7 in Bording, Denmark. 
Minks sit in a cage at a farm where a government order required all minks to be culled on November 7 in Bording, Denmark.  Ole Jensen/Getty Images

Denmark's government has backtracked on an order to kill all mink in the country after conceding it had no legal authority to order a mass cull.

Denmark ordered the cull, which included killing healthy mink, after finding that a coronavirus mutation had spread widely across more than 200 Danish mink farms. The mutated virus has also spread to 12 humans.

Though healthy minks may have been saved from the cull for now, a prior government order requiring the killing of all infected mink herds, as well as herds within a radius of 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles), appears to still be in place.

Prior to the culls, Denmark was home to more than 15 million mink, which are raised for their pelts. The country's human population stands at around 5.5 million.

The cull of uninfected mink was thrown into doubt when questions were raised about the order's legal basis, according to state broadcaster TV2.

After facing questions from the opposition, the government admitted that it did not have the legal authority to order the cull of healthy mink on farms unaffected by the outbreak.

Covid-19 mutations are normal, and it is not yet clear if this mutation was significant.

“There are huge doubts relating to whether the planned cull was based on an adequate scientific basis,” Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the leader of the Liberals opposition, told broadcaster TV2.

“At the same time, one's depriving a lot of people of their livelihoods.”

Europe’s CDC has said that the mutation “may have implications for immunity, reinfections and the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines,” but that “there is currently a high level of uncertainty over this.”

8:20 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

What we know about the Pfizer vaccine

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

US drugmaker Pfizer's announcement Monday that it believes its Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective has triggered a wave of optimism around the world, parts of which are under a second round of lockdown, desperately looking for a way out.

Pfizer's announcement, based on early data from its Phase 3 trial, was much better than expected and some experts are saying doses could be produced and distributed in the next month. The trial of the vaccine, made in partnership with Germany's BioNTech, has enrolled more than 43,500 participants since July 27.

  • Timeline: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious disease expert, says doses could be given to people "by the end of November, the beginning of December."
  • Global doses: The US drugmaker believes it could make up to 50 million doses available globally this year, and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
  • Caveats: While the development has been welcome around the world, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNN: "How long this protection lasts is something we don't know."
  • Challenges: US State health officials have expressed concerns about the requirements for handling Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be stored at the extremely cold temperature of minus-75 degrees Celsius (minus-103 Fahrenheit), far below the capacity of standard freezers.
  • Safety: Pfizer says “no corners were cut” in the vaccine's development, saying there are no safety concerns.
  • Progress: As of Sunday, 38,955 of the volunteers in the Pfizer trial have received a second dose. The company says 42% of international trial sites and 30% of US trial sites involve volunteers of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.
  • Market reaction: The news on Pfizer triggered a rally Monday, but global stocks petered out Tuesday, with some major indexes still inching up.
7:32 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

US state officials "daunted" over how to distribute the most fragile vaccine in American history

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield and Sierra Jenkins

A patient participates in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on May 4 in Baltimore, Maryland. 
A patient participates in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on May 4 in Baltimore, Maryland.  University of Maryland School of Medicine/AP

State health officials in the US have told CNN that they are feeling “overwhelmed” and “daunted” at the prospect of distributing Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine, should it become widely available soon.

On Monday, Pfizer announced that early data from its Phase 3 trial showed its vaccine was more than 90% effective. The drug giant could apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as early as this month. 

The vaccine's handling requirements are stringent — it has to be stored at about minus-75 degrees Celsius (minus-103 Fahrenheit), more than 50 degrees Celsius lower than any other vaccine currently on the market in the US.

The required conditions are far colder than the temperatures in freezers kept in doctors' offices, pharmacies and public health clinics.

Molly Howell, who’s in charge of the immunization program in North Dakota, said she felt “overwhelmed” and “daunted” while watching a webinar last month on how to distribute Pfizer’s vaccine. 

"How are we going to do this?” she texted a colleague who was also on the webinar. 

Her colleague responded with an exploding head emoji.

Pfizer has offered “thermal shippers” about the size of a suitcase to keep the vaccine cold. They’re only temporary, and need to be replenished with dry ice every five days. 

“It would be hard to with a straight face say, ‘Oh, we're all set,’” said Christine Finley, Vermont’s immunization program manager. 

“[This] equals a challenge I don’t think we’ve ever seen before.”