November 30 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Brett McKeehan, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Jo Shelley, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:04 AM ET, Tue December 1, 2020
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10:38 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

US could be administering two coronavirus vaccines before Christmas, HHS secretary says

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20 in Washington, DC.
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Distribution of Covid-19 vaccines could begin within weeks, pending authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

“We could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people's arms before Christmas,” Azar said.

An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to discuss Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine on December 10.

“We could be looking at approval within days after that," Azar said during an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Monday. 

Pfizer applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization earlier this month and Moderna said it would apply on Monday. The FDA committee is expected to consider Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine on December 17.

10:33 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

This Texas woman has a warning after her whole family contracted Covid at a birthday party

Alexa Aragonez speaks during an interview on November 30.
Alexa Aragonez speaks during an interview on November 30. CNN

After 12 of her family members gathered for a birthday party in Texas, at least 15 people contracted Covid-19.

Now, Alexa Aragonez has a message: this could happen to you.

"It's a lesson for not only my family, but a message that everyone should listen to at least for a little bit and understand – that this family could be yours and at any moment in time your world can change because of Covid-19," she told CNN on Monday.

Aragonez said that while most of her family was able to successful fight the virus, her mom was hospitalized and is still dealing with long-term cardiovascular complications.

She said she thinks gathering isn't something that is unique to her family, especially during the holiday season.

"It's very common to think that a family that's taking great care of themselves and following most of the CDC guidelines thinks it has some flexibility to gather," Aragonez said. "Unfortunately there are so many of us that do the same thing, and my family came together and thought this was a message worth sharing."

Watch part of the interview here:

9:48 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Stocks open mixed

From CNN’s Anneken S. Tappe

US stocks kicked off mixed on Monday, which is the final trading day of November. Nevertheless, the market is set to close off a historic month.

The Dow is on track for its best month since January 1987. The Nasdaq Composite, which hit a record closing high on Friday, could once again surpass that mark.

Investors expect the economy to undergo a rebound next year thanks to multiple reports of promising vaccine developments.

Here's where things opened:

  • The Dow opened 0.5%, or 149 point, lower.
  • The S&P 500 slipped 0.2%.
  • The Nasdaq opened 0.2% higher.
9:38 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

CVS and Walgreens are preparing to administer Covid-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

CVS and Walgreens are preparing to be among the first to administer Covid-19 shots in the United States, if the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes emergency use of a vaccine. Those vaccinations would take place in long-term care facilities, not in retail stores. 

In October, the Trump administration announced agreements with CVS and Walgreens to give vaccinations to residents of long-term care facilities nationwide. Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called an emergency meeting tomorrow to vote, in part, on whether to recommend that residents in those facilities be among the first people in the US to get a coronavirus vaccine.

CVS anticipates providing shots in long-term care facilities in mid-December.

"We’ll be ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities in mid-December based on anticipated emergency use authorization for one or more vaccine candidates," said T.J. Crawford, a CVS spokesperson.

Walgreens expects to begin administering shots in long-term care facilities within days of receiving doses.

"We are committed to administering vaccines to long-term care facilities as soon as we receive doses. We believe we can be in some long-term care facilities within a few days of when we receive the first vaccine doses," a Walgreens corporate spokesperson told CNN Monday.

9:43 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine was designed in just two days

From CNN's John Bonifield

Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, New York, on July 27.
Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, New York, on July 27. Hans Pennink/AP

Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna designed its vaccine against the novel coronavirus in just two days.

On Jan. 11, Chinese authorities shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus, according to Moderna's website.

Two days later, on Jan. 13, the National Institutes of Health and Moderna’s infectious disease research team finalized the sequence for mRNA-1273, the formal name of the company's Covid-19 vaccine.

The company then went on to formulate a clinical batch, according to a company spokesperson.

Moderna announced it intends to apply today to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine.

The company will ask the FDA to review an expanded data set showing the vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing Covid-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.

9:34 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: "The schools are some of the safest places to be right now"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during an interview on November 30.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during an interview on November 30. CNN

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools are some of the safest places in the city while explaining his decision to reopen public elementary schools and resume in-person classes.

“When we laid down that 3% [infection rate threshold,] we did not have the information we have now,” he told CNN. “But now it's time for something different.”

“That 3% standard, after we had so much experience with the schools, proved to be different than we thought it would be,” he added, saying that the model needs to be more sustainable for until there is a coronavirus vaccine. “We decided we need a lot more testing and to make that [available] in every school.”

Students in 3K, Pre-K and grades K-5 can resume in-person classes on Dec. 7 and the city will address when middle and high schoolers can return to in-person classes in the future.

There will be weekly testing in every school, and students will need to be tested and get a consent form to come, de Blasio said about the reopening directives put in place.

The current testing capacity only allows the city to bring back elementary school students. Over time, the city will also bring back middle and high school students, de Blasio said.

In case a student tests positive for Covid-19, the entire classroom will quarantine, he added.

“[If] there's multiple cases in the school, there’s a careful investigation to determine whether the school only needs a temporary shutdown or full two-week quarantine," he said Monday. "That has worked and it's allowed us to keep the vast majority of our schools open the vast majority of the time. But it’s also given us the ability to pinpoint when there's a problem and address it quickly through our test and trace corps.”

Watch more:

9:44 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Where things stand in the race to distribute a coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine vials.
Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine vials. Pfizer

Pharmaceutical company Moderna this morning announced it intends to apply today to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine.

That means there will be at least two vaccine candidates seeking FDA approval: Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech submitted for emergency use authorization for their coronavirus candidate.

Here's where things stand on the race to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine:

  • When a vaccine could be approved: The FDA plans to make a decision about authorizing Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine within a few weeks of a key meeting scheduled for Dec. 10, an agency official said last week.
  • Who might get a vaccine first: Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called an emergency meeting for tomorrow to vote on who they recommend should be the first to get a coronavirus vaccine once one is authorized. The CDC has already recommended that the first group — designated as 1a — should include frontline health providers and support personnel. The 1a group likely should also include residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, who have been badly hit by the pandemic, the CDC has said.
  • How many doses there could be: The federal government has said 40 million coronavirus vaccine doses could be available by the end of December. Dr. Larry Corey of the University of Washington, who is heading up coronavirus vaccine clinical trials in the US, has said if both Pfizer and Moderna get vaccines authorized, they could supply 50 million more doses in January and 60 million more in February and March.
  • But remember: There are not going to be enough vaccines for everyone at first, so choices have to be made. The CDC estimates there are 21 million healthcare personnel, 87 million essential workers, 100 million adults with high-risk medical conditions and 53 million others 65 and older.
9:28 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

European Commission agrees vaccine deal with CureVac

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The Logo of Curevac is seen on a sign in front of the CUREVAC building on November 21 in Tuebingen, Germany.
The Logo of Curevac is seen on a sign in front of the CUREVAC building on November 21 in Tuebingen, Germany. Harry Langer/DeFodi Images/Getty Images

The European Commission has signed a Covid-19 vaccine contract with German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, President Ursula von der Leyen announced Monday. 

"Today we signed our 5th vaccine contract, with CureVac," von der Leyen tweeted from her official account.

She said the European Commission has now secured almost 2 billion doses of potential coronavirus vaccines and that Europeans would have access to them once they are approved as safe and effective, "hopefully before the end of the year!"

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter that the deal put European and global citizens and economies another "step closer to delivering a safe and sustainable exit strategy from the crisis."

8:08 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Novavax enrolls UK Phase 3 trial, expects US/Mexico trial to launch in “coming weeks"

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

A researcher works on coronavirus vaccine development at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20.
A researcher works on coronavirus vaccine development at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Vaccine maker Novavax has completed enrollment of the Phase 3 trial for its Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, and a large-scale clinical trial in the United States and Mexico will begin “in the coming weeks,” the company announced Monday.  

The UK trial enrolled 15,000 participants, and will determine the efficacy and safety of Novavax’s experimental vaccine, called NVX-CoV2373. Interim results from that Phase 3 trial are expected “as soon as early first quarter 2021,” depending on how fast Covid-19 is spreading in the region, the company said.

Novavax also announced it has fully enrolled its Phase 2b vaccine trial in South Africa, with more than 4,400 participants. Among its trials, more than 20,000 participants have been dosed to date.

The Phase 3 clinical trial in the United States and Mexico will begin “in the coming weeks” -- later than it had previously suggested. The vaccine maker said earlier in November that this trial would likely begin by the end of the month.

It would be the fifth coronavirus vaccine to enter late-stage clinical trials in the United States. The Maryland-based company was awarded $1.6 billion from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed to fund its Phase 3 trial in the US and Mexico and to scale-up manufacturing.

Novavax's vaccine is made by growing synthetic versions of the coronavirus spike protein in armyworm moth cells. The vaccine combines these particles with the company’s adjuvant – a plant-based compound that helps boost the immune response to the vaccine.

##Vaccines#