Live Updates

January 4 coronavirus news

Warp Speed adviser on vaccines: Nothing has gone wrong
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What you need to know

  • The first patient has received the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, in what the UK health secretary called a “real pivotal moment.”
  • Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown for England on Monday.
  • The US has administered more than 4.5 million vaccine doses, but is lagging behind some other countries as hospitalizations continue to surge following the holidays.
  • Countries around the world have implemented restrictions and travel bans for the UK to contain a new Covid-19 variant first reported in England.

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Up to 29% more cases could be prevented by not withholding vaccine supply for second doses, study finds

A pharmacist dilutes the Covid-19 vaccine while preparing it to administer to staff and residents at a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30.

Administering first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to more individuals instead of withholding available supply for use as a second dose may reduce the number of new cases in the United States, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday. 

The US government currently withholds 50% of the available vaccine supply, distributing to states and other jurisdictions weeks later to be administered as the second in a two-dose series. By reducing the amount withheld to 10% for the first three weeks and supplying a steady dose of 6 million doses per week, the US could avoid up to 29% more cases over eight weeks, the study found.

The researchers modeled various scenarios, with variables including vaccine supply, protection provided by the first dose and waning efficacy of first dose if the second dose is delayed. Only in the unlikely worst-case scenario of a collapse in supply and minimal protection among individuals who have received the first dose would the model suggest that withholding 50% of available supply provide better protection.  

“We find that under most plausible scenarios, a more balanced approach that withholds fewer doses during early distribution in order to vaccinate more people as soon as possible could substantially increase the benefits of vaccines, while enabling most recipients to receive second doses on schedule,” write the study’s authors, who were supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Both vaccines authorized for emergency use in the US – made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – are authorized only as a two-dose series, though efficacy estimates allow for partial protection after the first dose. The study modeled scenarios using characteristics of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The study assesses the US strategy for vaccine allocation but does not consider delays in vaccine administration at the state level. 

Biden adviser says new administration will support states in Covid-19 vaccine roll out: "It's not a hand-off"

The Biden administration Covid-19 vaccine roll out plan will involve working closely with state-level partners, Rick Bright, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, said Monday.

“This is going to be a coordinated, hand-in-hand effort, all the way through to make sure we’re getting those vaccines into the arms of people in every pocket, in the rural communities, in the hard-to-reach areas, in the Latinx and Black populations and tribal nations,” Bright told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Bright, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said he is already communicating with states about their needs. 

Bright said that the Trump administration hasn’t been able to deliver the number of doses promised to the American people due to limited coordination with states and local authorities.

“There are problems after delivery into the states, in the health care systems,” he said. “The funding hasn’t been provided to allow them to staff up and train people to administer the doses.”

Mexico approves AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use

Mexico’s drug administration has approved the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, according to a tweet from Dr. Hugo López-Gatell, the country’s deputy health secretary.

It’s the second coronavirus vaccine approved in the country, following Pfizer’s, which Mexico authorized and began using to vaccinate people in December.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, hailed the news of the second emergency vaccine authorization and wrote on Twitter that “production will begin very shortly in Mexico.”

Los Angeles ambulance crews told not to transport patients who stand little chance of survival

Los Angeles County paramedics load a potential Covid-19 patient into an ambulance before transporting him to a hospital in Hawthorne, California on December 29.

With intensive care units at Southern California hospitals nearly full because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) has directed ambulance crews not to transport patients with little chance of survival to hospitals, and to conserve the use of oxygen.

Los Angeles and Southern California are dealing with one of the country’s worst outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. ICU bed capacity plunged to 0% in Southern California last month, as more and more people were admitted to hospital seeking treatment for Covid-19. 

Now, many medical facilities simply do not have the space to take in patients who do not have a chance of survival, according to the agency.   

As of Monday evening, there were 7,544 people hospitalized in Los Angeles due to Covid-19 and just 17 available adult ICU beds, according to county health data. Due to the shortage of beds, the county EMS said patients whose hearts have stopped, despite efforts of resuscitation, should no longer be transported to hospitals.

If there are no signs of breathing or a pulse, EMS will continue to perform resuscitation for at least 20 minutes, the EMS memo said. If the patient is stabilized after the period of resuscitation, the patient would then be transported to a hospital. If the patient is declared dead at the scene or if no pulse can be restored, paramedics will no longer transport the body to the hospital.

Oxygen shortage: A shortage of oxygen in Los Angeles and the nearby San Joaquin Valley, thanks to Covid-19, is putting immense pressure on the system and forcing paramedics to conserve the supply.

In order to maintain normal circulation of the blood to organs and tissue needed for the body to function, EMS said an oxygen saturation of at least 90% will be sufficient. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom formed a task force to address the issue last week. It is working with local and state partners to help refill oxygen tanks and mobilize them to hospitals and facilities most in need.

Michigan surpasses 500,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19

In this November 13 file photo, a nurse works at the Hackley Community Care Covid-19 curbside testing site in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.

More than 500,000 people in the US state of Michigan have contracted Covid-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday.

Despite the rise in cases, Whitmer said the fact that vaccine distribution has begun means there is “hope on the horizon.”

However, Whitmer cautioned that “it will take some time for the vaccine to be widely available to all Michiganders, and until then, we must continue to do our part to keep ourselves and our fellow Michiganders safe.”

“Covid-19 didn’t end with the new year. There is still more work to do to beat this virus, but I know that Michiganders are up to the challenge. Let’s harness our Michigan grit and eliminate this virus once and for all,” she said.

Track US cases here:

US could be missing important coronavirus mutations due to "dismal" rate of genetic sequencing, experts say

In this August 5 file photo, a lab technician prepares a solution that will be used to process coronavirus test samples at Advagenix, a molecular diagnostics laboratory, in Rockville, Maryland.

The United States should be sequencing 10% of its confirmed Covid-19 cases to monitor for mutations, experts told CNN Monday – yet current figures put the country at less than half a percent.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security and an associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, said that the US sequences a “dismal” 0.3% of detected cases.

US labs have submitted only about 57,700 sequences of the coronavirus to the genomic database GISAID. In comparison, the UK has submitted more than 146,000, despite having far fewer confirmed cases. Rasmussen said a lack of public funding for surveillance was a “big problem,” because it’s important that officials continually sequence detected cases in order to monitor for mutations to the virus that render vaccines less effective.

The UK sequences about 10% of its detected cases. Rasmussen said in an email that the US “should shoot for at least half of what the UK does, but ideally we should be at 10% or better,” Rasmussen said via email.

Variants detected in Britain and in South Africa both have patterns of mutation that trouble scientists and appear to make the virus more easily transmitted. Only a handful of these variants have been reported in the US so far although experts believe the mutation first found in Britain is likely fairly widespread.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, also said the US should aim to sequence 10% of its confirmed cases.

Over the next two weeks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to double the number of samples it genetically sequences to 6,500 per week, according to an agency official, who also noted that the UK has a more centralized system for genetic sequencing while the US relies on a patchwork of federal, state, academic and private labs. 

FDA says people need both doses of coronavirus vaccines

A health worker administers a vaccine to a patient in their vehicle during the first day of mass Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition Center on Monday, January 4, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Anyone who receives the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine must get both doses, two top US Food and Drug Administration officials said Monday. 

They said people who are speculating about the possibility of making do with just one dose are misinterpreting the data.

“We have been following the discussions and news reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, changing the dose (half-dose), or mixing and matching vaccines in order to immunize more people against COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks, who heads FDA’s vaccine division, said in a statement.

“These are all reasonable questions to consider and evaluate in clinical trials. However, at this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence. Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19,” they added.

“The available data continue to support the use of two specified doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals. For the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 21 days between the first and second dose. And for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 28 days between the first and second dose.”

British officials have said they will allow more than 21 days between doses of Pfizer’s vaccines and would consider allowing people to get vaccinated with two different vaccines. Hahn and Marks dismissed these ideas for the US, saying while there is speculation that a single dose offers protection, there is not enough hard evidence to show it will.

“What we have seen is that the data in the firms’ submissions regarding the first dose is commonly being misinterpreted. In the phase 3 trials, 98% of participants in the Pfizer-BioNTech trial and 92% of participants in the Moderna trial received two doses of the vaccine at either a three- or four-week interval, respectively,” they wrote.

“Those participants who did not receive two vaccine doses at either a three-or four-week interval were generally only followed for a short period of time, such that we cannot conclude anything definitive about the depth or duration of protection after a single dose of vaccine from the single dose percentages reported by the companies.”

It’s understandable that people may want to stretch the vaccine supply, they said. But it’s not advisable.

“If people do not truly know how protective a vaccine is, there is the potential for harm because they may assume that they are fully protected when they are not, and accordingly, alter their behavior to take unnecessary risks,” they said.

1 in 5 Los Angeles residents getting tested for Covid-19 are testing positive

Motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Monday, January. 4, in Los Angeles.

A feared holiday surge of coronavirus infections has begun in Los Angeles County, where about one in five residents getting tested for Covid-19 are now testing positive, officials in the hard-hit region announced Monday, calling the situation a “human disaster” and predicting the death toll could soar to more than 1,000 people per week.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Covid-19 hospitalizations in the county have reached an all-time high with 7,697 patients, 21% of whom are in intensive care, a figure she called “distressing.”

“The anticipated surge from the winter holiday gatherings has begun,” said Ferrer. “The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and returning travelers.”

County health officials reported 77 new deaths on Monday, raising the total number in the county to 10,850, and an additional 9,142 cases. Ferrer pointed out Monday’s lower than average numbers reflect a lag in reporting from the holiday weekend and the closure of some testing sites.

According to Ferrer, one person is now dying from the virus every 15 minutes in L.A. County. 

According to the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office, with hospitals and mortuaries full of bodies, the county coroner’s office has been storing additional victims, a growing toll that has risen to 757 bodies, a coroner’s spokesperson told CNN.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis called the situation in the county, which has doubled its total number of Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in the last month alone, “a human disaster.” 

“Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units. Our health care workers are physically and mentally exhausted and sick,” she said.

With infections continuing to surge out of control in the nation’s most populous county, Solis warned the situation, which is already “beyond our imagination, could become beyond comprehension.”

This post has been updated to reflect that one in five LA residents who were tested for the virus tested positive.

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

The United States reported 128,210 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 34th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers were recorded on these days:

  • Jan. 4: 128,210 people hospitalized
  • Jan. 3: 125,544 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 31: 125,379 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 30: 125,218 people hospitalized
  • Jan. 1: 125,047 people hospitalized

Johnson & Johnson should have enough data by end of January to determine if its Covid-19 vaccine works

A pharmacy technician holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, in Aurora, Colorado.

Johnson & Johnson tells CNN its Janssen Covid-19 vaccine trial is still on track and the company should have enough data “toward the end of January” to determine if the vaccine is safe and if it provides protection against the novel coronavirus, according to company spokesperson Lisa Cannellos.

The vaccine trial was fully enrolled Dec. 17. With the high number of infections in the US, the company determined it could enroll 45,000 volunteers and generate enough data.

If the trial shows the vaccine is safe and effective, the company has said it expects to submit an emergency use authorization application to the US Food and Drug Administration in February.

Unlike Moderna and Pfizer, the Janssen vaccine is a single dose shot. The vaccine uses a certain subtype of the adenovirus (a virus that causes cold symptoms) that is altered to carry the proteins for the novel coronavirus. Both viruses have been deactivated but exposure causes the immune system to create protective antibodies.

UK daily coronavirus cases reach new record high as England enters third national lockdown

An almost-deserted Bank junction in the heart of London, seen on the first business day of the New Year, Monday, January 4.

The United Kingdom recorded a record 58,784 new coronavirus cases on Monday — the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic and the seventh day in a row in which the UK has recorded more than 50,000 new cases. 

According to the latest government data, the total number of cases recorded across the UK since the pandemic began now stands at 2,713,563.

A further 407 deaths have also been registered over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test in the UK to at least 75,431.

The staggering figures come as England enters a third national lockdown, which is expected to last until mid-February, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“It is clear that we need to do more to bring this new variant under control,” Johnson said during an address to the nation on Monday. “That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home.”

In a statement, Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England, urged citizens to adhere to government guidance in order to stem the spread of the virus. 

“The continuous rise in cases and deaths should be a bitter warning for us all,” Doyle said Monday.

“We must not forget the basics — the lives of our friends and family depend on it. Keep your distance from others, wash your hands and wear a mask. This virus will transmit wherever you let your guard down,” she added. 

France plans to create new citizens group to advise government on vaccine strategy

A group of 30 French citizens will be selected at random to represent the concerns of members of the public and advise the country’s government on its vaccination strategy, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council said.  

“A group of 30 citizens, selected at random, whose composition is intended to be as representative as possible of French society, will be formed,” the council said, adding that the group’s purpose will be to “take into account the concerns, observations and interrogations of citizens” across the country.  

“Its members will be invited to raise issues relating to vaccination, whether they are about scientific, health, technical or financial matters. Fears, resistance or questions surrounding the ethics of the national vaccination campaign may also be expressed,” the council added. 

In an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, the council said that the draw would be held on Monday, with the group expected to begin working on Jan. 16.

A broader digital consultation platform will also be set up, the council said on its website, “in order to collect on a large scale the expression of citizens on their concerns, their expectations or their information needs regarding the vaccination campaign.”

6 cases of UK variant strain reported in Southern California, governor says

Six cases of the more transmissible coronavirus variant first seen in the UK have now been confirmed in patients in Southern California, as preliminary health data shows the Golden State, already battered by Covid-19, may soon be heading into a feared “surge on top of a surge,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Monday. 

The new cases of the Covid-19 variant were reported in four patients in San Diego, one of whom is hospitalized, and two others in San Bernardino. It remains unclear how this strain of the coronavirus first seen in the UK has contributed to the recent surge of cases in the California. 

“We are heading into what we anticipate as a surge on top of a surge… it’s going to put a lot of pressure on hospitals and I see it coming out of the holidays,” Newsom said. 

California reported 29,633 new cases of Covid-19 and 97 additional deaths on Monday. New case counts are typically lower on Monday due to lags in reporting over the weekend. This particular reporting period is substantially lower than the seven-day average of 37,845 cases and testing data from the holidays will likely increase that number, the governor emphasized.

The state has seen a seven-fold increase in hospitalizations, and a six-fold increase in ICU admissions over the last two months as the state continues to see a skyrocketing number of new infections, Newsom said. 

Stocks tumble on first trading day of 2021

Wall Street ended the first trading day of the New Year sharply lower. Stocks tumbled after initially starting out in the green.

Here’s how things ended up: 

  • The Dow closed 1.3%, or 383 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 fell 1.5%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite also ended down 1.5%.

Investors are worried about the pandemic and chances for economic recovery in 2021, as well as the high-stakes runoff election in Georgia on Tuesday that will decide the balance in the Senate. On top of that, profit-taking weighed on the market after stocks reached record highs last week.

As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.

Upstate New York man has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, governor says

New York Gov. Cuomo

New York Gov. Cuomo announced Monday that a person has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, confirmed by the state’s Department of Health laboratory in Wadsworth.

The case is tied to a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs, and the man who tested positive did not travel recently. Cuomo said that since the man did not travel, it suggests the strain is in the community.

The man is in his 60’s and was symptomatic. Cuomo said the man is now on the mend.

Cuomo called on anyone who visited the store, called N. Fox Jewelers, between Dec. 18 to Dec. 24 to get tested.   

Three other people associated with the store have also tested positive. The lab in Wadsworth is testing those now to see if what strain of Covid-19 those three have.

The store was closed from Dec. 24 through today.

Covid-19 cases are rising in the Georgia county where Trump will hold a rally tonight

Whitfield County, Georgia – where President Trump will headline a Republican rally Monday night ahead of Tuesday’s runoff election – has the second highest coronavirus case rate in the state and one of the highest in the country.

With nearly 11,600 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents, Whitfield County lands among the 150 most infected counties in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Whitfield County also surpasses state and national rates of Covid-19 deaths. The death rate in the country for Covid-19 is 121 per 100,000 people, compared to 103 per 100,000 in Georgia and 107 per 100,000 in the US as a whole.

Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health also shows that Whitfield County is outpacing the state in the rate of new cases. In the past two weeks, the county saw 1,211 new cases per 100,000 people, 68% higher than the state rate of 719 cases per 100,000 people.

Atlanta’s Fulton County, meanwhile, is faring better than Georgia overall. The county has had 648 new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, according to data from the state health department.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces national lockdown for England

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown for England Monday night on the heels of a warning from top medical advisers that the country’s National Health Service was in danger of being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases within 21 days.

The lockdown is expected to remain in place at least through the middle of February.

Coronavirus cases are surging in the country due to the new variant, with 30% more Covid-19 patients in hospitals in England on Monday than a week earlier.

The announcement for England follows an announcement earlier Monday that Scotland would go into lockdown. Wales and Northern Ireland, the other two nations of the United Kingdom, were already in lockdown.

130 New York City school buildings are closed due to Covid-19 cases

In New York City, 130 school buildings are currently closed due to cases of Covid-19. 

One hundred of those buildings are under a two-week closure, and an additional 30 buildings are under a 24-hour closure, according to New York City’s Department of Education (DOE).

There are currently 169 active Covid-19 cases, according to the DOE’s tracking website. Thirty-two cases are students and 137 are among staff members. That brings the total to 7,176 cases among NYC students and staff since the DOE started keeping track in mid-September.

This latest update comes on the heels of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issuing guidance for counties that are testing at more than a 9% positivity rate to keep schools open if individual district’s numbers are lower than those of the county. New York City is currently at a 9% positivity rate, according to Monday’s data.

Schools in NYC have been open for some in-person learning for elementary school students since December. In-person learning is expected to be offered for middle school and high schoolers in early 2021, but no date is currently set.

Only 4 states have administered at least half of their Covid-19 doses, CDC data shows

A pharmacist reconstitutes the Pfizer/BioNTech before having it administered to people at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Monday, January 4.

Fewer than 30% of the 15.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses distributed in the US have been administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figures, last updated Monday, show a slight slowdown in the rate of vaccine administration. As of Saturday morning, the rate was closer to 33% administered. 

Only four states have administered at least half of the Covid-19 vaccine doses that have been distributed to them, according to the CDC data. Those states are: South Dakota, North Dakota, Tennessee and Connecticut.

Meanwhile, in 12 states, fewer than a quarter of the doses distributed have been administered.

  • Kansas: 15.3%
  • Georgia: 15.5%
  • Arizona: 16.1%
  • Louisiana: 22.7%
  • Virginia: 23.2%
  • Florida: 23.3%
  • Washington: 23.8%
  • Maryland: 23.9%
  • Oregon: 24.1%
  • California: 24.2%
  • Nevada: 24.3%
  • Alabama: 24.8% 

The CDC tracks vaccine distribution and administration – for both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – through submissions from states and other jurisdictions. Health care providers may report doses up to 72 hours after administration.

Scientists worry mutations in Covid-19 variant first seen in South Africa may affect vaccine response

Scientists in Britain said Monday they are increasingly concerned that that the pattern of mutations in a variant of the novel coronavirus first identified in South Africa may affect the protection offered by some vaccines.

While that variant shares the same N501Y mutation as another variant first identified in the United Kingdom, it also has two other mutations called E484K and K417N. They affect the spike protein – the part of the virus that attaches to the cells it infects.

Most of the coronavirus vaccines are also designed to train the body to recognize the spike protein, or parts of it, and the fears are that if it mutates too much, vaccines will no longer be as effective.

“These two additional mutations may interfere more with vaccine effectiveness in the South African variant,” Dr. Julian Tang, honorary associate professor and virologist at the University of Leicester, said in a statement distributed by the UK-based Science Media Center on Monday. 

“This does not mean that the existing COVID-19 vaccines will not work at all, just that the antibodies induced by the current vaccines may not bind and neutralize the South African variant as well as it would the other circulating viruses - including the UK variant,” Tang said.

Lawrence Young, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said in a separate statement on Monday that “the accumulation of more spike mutations in the South African variant are more of a concern and could lead to some escape from immune protection.”

Meanwhile, scientists are working to better understand the new variant, its mutations and their significance. “Some of the changes are quite significant and thus scientists are paying a lot of attention. We do not yet know enough to say more than this,” James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said in a statement on Monday. 

Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for coronavirus response, told CNN Sunday that scientists are doing tests to assess the vaccine’s efficacy against the variant first found in South Africa, which has 22 mutations.

Texas congresswoman tests positive for Covid-19

Rep. Kay Granger, a Republican from Texas, has tested positive for coronavirus, her office announced in a statement Monday.

Read the statement: 

“When she arrived in DC for the beginning of the 117th Congress, Congresswoman Kay Granger was tested for coronavirus in accordance with the Attending Physician’s guidance for Members when traveling from their home state. She was later notified that she tested positive and immediately quarantined. Having received the vaccine in December, she is asymptomatic and feeling great! She will remain under the care of the her doctor.”

Read more on the members of Congress who have tested positive for coronavirus or its antibodies here.

CDC says 15.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses distributed in US, but just 4.5 million people immunized

A health care worker receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on Monday, January 4.

Just over 15.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been distributed in the US, but only 4.5 million people have been given their first doses as of 9 a.m. on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

That’s just 337,000 more doses than were given out as of Saturday, according to the CDC.

US federal health officials have been trying to explain why so few vaccines have been given out, after repeated promises to have vaccinated 20 million people by the end of December. Earlier Monday, Operation Warp Speed chief scientific adviser Moncef Slaoui said “nothing has gone wrong,” even as he acknowledged delays. 

“We worked with the states to immunize. We agree that there is a lag. We’ll work with the states,” Slaoui told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” Officials have also revised their forecasts to say 20 million doses would be distributed by the end of 2020, but Monday’s numbers show the US is still nearly 5 million doses short of the distribution goal.

The CDC said 2.5 million doses have been distributed to long term care facilities and 365,294 people have been given vaccines in those facilities. The CDC said the reported numbers can take 72 hours to come in.

UK coronavirus alert level should move from Level 4 to Level 5, medical officials say

An ambulance at the Royal Free Hospital in London, on Monday, January 4.

UK Chief Medical Officers and the NHS England Medical Director have recommended that the national coronavirus alert level be moved from Level 4 to Level 5 in response to rising cases and growing pressure on the country’s National Health Service (NHS). 

“Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England Medical Director recommend that the UK Alert Level should move from Level 4 to Level 5,” UK Chief Medical Officers said in a statement on Monday. 

“Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care,” they added. 

According to the statement, the spread of the “new more transmissible variant” has led to rising cases “almost everywhere” in the UK.

“We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days,” UK Chief Medical Officers said. 

The statement comes just hours ahead of a national address from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is expected to outline new measures the government will be taking to tackle the spread of the virus.