December 1 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020
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9:39 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Coronavirus could have been spreading in US as early as mid-December 2019, study suggests

From CNN Health’s Amanda Sealy

The novel coronavirus may have infected people in the United States as early as Dec. 13, 2019, according to a study published Monday in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The study, which was conducted by scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from Dec. 13, 2019 through Jan. 17, 2020. 

The 7,389 samples, collected from nine states, were tested for SARS-CoV-2 reactive antibodies. SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Of the samples tested, at least 106 were found to have antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, including ones collected from California, Oregon and Washington from Dec. 13 through Dec. 16, 2019.

“SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, earlier than previously recognized,” the authors wrote.

Previously, the first known case of Covid-19 in the US was reported on Jan. 21.

CNN has reached out to the World Health Organization for comment.

11:53 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Head of CDC advisory committee on vaccines says decision on who gets one first is "weighty"

Dr. Jose Romero, the chair US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee, speaks during an interview on December 1.
Dr. Jose Romero, the chair US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee, speaks during an interview on December 1. CNN

Dr. Jose Romero, the chair of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee meeting today to vote on who will get the first coronavirus vaccine, said the decision is a "weighty" one, but one that is guided by science and facts.

Romero, the chair of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, spoke to CNN this morning ahead of the committee's afternoon meeting and vote.

"These are weighty decisions," he said. "So our decisions for deciding which of the priority groups are based on current knowledge and current information about the pandemic, the epidemiology, the persons most affected by this pandemic."

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.

Romero said each state will decide within the recommended groups, who will get the vaccine first.

"It's not the same to be a health care provider that is not having direct patient contact as it is a health care provider that's in the intensive care unit caring for individuals with Covid or emergency room physicians or nurses that are caring for Covid," he said.

Watch:

10:06 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your coronavirus vaccine questions

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

While the USA Food and Drug administration reviews the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates' data for emergency use authorization, CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta outlines key things you should know about how the process will work.

How does the vaccine approval process work?

So far, all of the data about the effectiveness of the vaccine has come from the companies manufacturing them. Now, the FDA scientists will review that data to consider the finer points on the protections these vaccines provide.

“Are there certain groups of people who did better with this vaccine or worse? Do we have any insights into durability? We know that maybe it prevents disease but does it also prevent infection? Does it prevent transmission? These are all open-ended questions and… that's what they're focused on,” Gupta explains.

A vaccine can prevent me from getting sick but can it also prevent me from being a carrier?

Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates have shown high effectiveness in preventing people from getting Covid-19. But the data has not shown yet if the vaccines prevent people from getting infected or from transmitting the disease. “So far, we can’t say for sure,” Gupta says.

If someone already had Covid-19, should they still take the vaccine?

Scientists are saying that a vaccinated immunity should last longer than a naturally acquired immunity, Gupta reports. The immunity you get from contracting Covid-19 does last for a certain amount of time but the nature of the vaccine should provide longer immunity. It’s unclear how long that might be. Pfizer and Moderna have two doses. One primes the immune system, then the second shot sort of boosts it. This makes it a better option for obtaining immunity, Gupta adds.

Could the new technology used to create these vaccines cause healthy cells to mutate or cause cancer down the road?

It is not entering the nucleus of the human cell where it would interfere with DNA so there is no evidence that it would cause mutations nor is there any evidence that it would actually cause an infection, Gupta says.

“You are not giving the virus, you're giving the genetic sequence for a portion of the virus. So someone cannot become infected with this either,” he added. “They're still going to need the long-term studies but at least the two months' worth of data seem to show that it was safe.”

Can people decide which vaccine to take?

Initially, there won’t be a much of a choice. Pfizer’s vaccine needs very specific cold storage so it may be the only one you can take if you live in a community where that storage facility is available. Moderna may be able to go to smaller cities and smaller facilities like even nursing homes.

“The expectation is that by January you may have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, AstraZeneca vaccine applying for [Emergency Use Authorization,]” Gupta said. If this becomes a yearly shot, then people may have the option to choose.

Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta answer your coronavirus vaccine questions:

You can read more of the answers to all of your coronavirus questions at cnn.com/coronavirusanswers. If you have specific vaccine related questions, submit them here and we will try to find you some answers.

9:03 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

CDC advisers will vote today on who will get the first coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Maggie Fox and John Bonifield

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called an emergency meeting for today to vote on who they recommend should be the first to get a coronavirus vaccine once one is authorized.

What officials have said so far: 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.

"Long term care facility residents and staff accounted for 6% of cases and 39% of deaths in the US, despite the fact that long term care facility residents account for less than 1% of the US population," the CDC's Dr. Kathleen Dooling told the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Monday.

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.

The federal government has said 40 million coronavirus vaccine doses could be available by the end of December.

8:26 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Virus cases grew in 47 US states during November, JHU data shows

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Health care workers administer Covid-19 tests at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky on November 13.
Health care workers administer Covid-19 tests at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky on November 13. Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

In November, 47 US states saw growth in new Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Looking at the seven-day average of new cases for each state on November 1 and comparing that to November 30, only three states saw a decline in average cases over the last month:

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin

The other 47 states and Washington, DC all saw an increase in their seven-day average of new cases over the month, according to JHU.

November cases: The US added a total of 4,408,176 new coronavirus infections -- or nearly 33% of all Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, the JHU data shows.

Hospitalizations: Thirty-four states and one US territory reported at least one record-high day of Covid-19 hospitalizations last month, according to The Covid Tracking Project. They were: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico.  

8:18 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Incoming US administration urged to devote extra $20 billion to global Covid-19 fight

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

A aerial view of the burial site reserved for victims of the pandemic at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on November 21.
A aerial view of the burial site reserved for victims of the pandemic at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on November 21. Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has urged the new Biden-Harris administration "to devote an additional $20 billion to the fight against COVID-19 globally" in its first 100 days.

This money will help "stem the immediate impact of the virus on lives and livelihoods amongst the world's most vulnerable," according to Elinor Raikes, regional vice president and head of program delivery at ICR, in a statement released Tuesday.

"The number of people in need has increased by 40 percent to 235 million in the last year, almost entirely due to COVID-19 and the burden it is placing on economies, healthcare, education, and basic infrastructure," Raikes said in the statement. 

"President-Elect Biden must take urgent and expansive action to reverse these devastating trends, returning the US to global humanitarian leadership and galvanizing the international community into much-needed humanitarian action," Raikes added.

8:09 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Ventilator use in Miami-Dade County is up 46% in two weeks

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Denise Royal 

Vehicles line up at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, November 22.
Vehicles line up at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, November 22. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Ventilator use is up by almost 50% in Miami-Dade County in Florida and the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care has risen by 35% in the last two weeks, according to the county’s Covid-19 dashboard.

County records show 795 patients are currently hospitalized in Miami-Dade County, a 37% increase.

Florida is reporting that 4,162 patients are hospitalized state-wide, according to its Agency for Health Care Administration -- a 28% increase in the past two weeks, per data compiled by The Covid Tracking Project. 

A record-high 96,039 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in the US as of Monday evening, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday told reporters that the intensive care unit bed capacity in the state might reach 112% by Christmas Eve, if the trend of surging infections continues.

In Rhode Island, officials prepared to use field hospitals after telling residents their systems were already at capacity.

7:56 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

When vaccines are expected to be approved in different parts of the world

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, in September.
A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, in September. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As the process of trialing and approving the multiple Covid-19 vaccines continues across the world, here's the latest on when they're expected to be available, and where:

North America:

BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna have both submitted requests for emergency use authorization to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their vaccine candidates. The FDA has called meetings of its advisers for December 10 to discuss Pfizer’s application and December 17 to discuss Moderna’s. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday that meant it’s possible people could begin receiving vaccines by Christmas. Pfizer has also initiated a rolling submission in Canada.

Europe:

Pfizer and Moderna submitted applications of their Covid-19 vaccine to the European Medicines Agency today that could enable their use before the end of the year. Pfizer also formally reported its data to the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The UK government has referred the vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca and Oxford University to the national medicines regulator for assessment on Friday, but questions over some of its data could delay the rollout.

South America

Several Covid-19 vaccines are undergoing clinical trials in Brazil, which has the second-highest number of virus deaths worldwide and the third-highest number of total cases. The Oxford/AstraZeneca trial has been conducted with the support of the Ministry of Health and public health federal research institute Fiocruz. Elcio Franco, the ministry's executive secretary, said the public may have access to that vaccine by January. Venezuela is taking part in Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine candidate's Phase 3 clinical trials, and Peru and Argentina in Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm's Phase 3 trials.

Asia-Pacific

Pfizer and BioNTech have initiated rolling submissions in Australia and Japan. Almost a million people have been given an experimental vaccine developed by Sinopharm as part of an emergency-use program authorized by Beijing, the Chinese pharmaceutical giant's chairman said. In June, Chinese company CanSino Biologics announced it had been given special authorization to administer its experimental vaccine to the People's Liberation Army. India is preparing to distribute "hundreds of millions of doses" of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the first and second quarter of 2021, drug manufacturer Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla said at a news conference on Saturday. SII will apply for an emergency use license from India's drug authority in the next two weeks.

Middle East:

Sinopharm has carried out Phase 3 trials in 10 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt -- but it is not clear whether that means they will be first in line to receive the vaccine. Phase 3 trials for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine are also taking place in the UAE. Israel began the first phase of clinical trials earlier this month for vaccine candidate BriLife, developed at the Israel Institute for Biological Research. Phase 3 is expected to begin in April or May.

Africa:

Vaccinations against Covid-19 might not start in Africa until the middle of next year, the head of the continent’s centers for disease control John Nkengasong said Thursday.   Pfizer and Moderna's early supply of vaccines will be tied up in the US and Europe. AstraZeneca is the only company that has announced Phase 3 trial results that has so far promised to supply doses to Covax, the vaccine initiative that will roll it out in many low- and middle-income countries. It will do so on a non-profit basis. Current modelling suggests it could take until September 2023 for vaccines to reach all countries.

7:38 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

UN outlines the "bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs... we have ever set out"

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters during a news conference at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, on November 20.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters during a news conference at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, on November 20. EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty Images

A record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year, "a near-40% increase on 2020 which is almost entirely from COVID-19,” the UN’s emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock said statement Tuesday.

This number has risen to 1 in 33 people worldwide, a significant increase from 1 in 45 registered at the same time last year, which was already the highest figure in decades, the UN Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 reported.  

Multiple famines are looming," Lowcock warned Tuesday in an appeal for $35 billion to help 160 million of the most vulnerable in 56 countries. 

The global health crisis has "dramatically" impacted people already reeling from conflict, record levels of displacement and climate change shocks, Lowcock said, adding that this was “the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs in the period ahead that we have ever set out"

He said that was a reflection of the fact that the pandemic "has wreaked carnage across the whole of the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet.”

Echoing Lowcock’s call for global solidarity, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged the world to “stand with people in their darkest hour of need,” as the global pandemic continues to worsen, the statement reads.