January 6 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim, Angela Dewan and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021
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9:50 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

EU drug regulators have approved the Moderna vaccine. Here's what we know about it

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Jacqueline Howard

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at a hospital in Valley Stream, New York, on December 21.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at a hospital in Valley Stream, New York, on December 21. Eduardo Munoz/Pool/Getty Images

The European Union drugs regulator has recommended granting Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine a conditional marketing authorization -- a move that paves the way for it to become the second coronavirus vaccine distributed in the bloc.

Following the recommendation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the drug must be formally authorized by the European Commission; this is expected to happen quickly.

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in the EU.

But there are a few key differences. Most importantly, Moderna's vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require a super-cold transportation network, making it more accessible for smaller facilities and local communities.

9:19 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Swiss restaurants and cultural sites to remain closed until end of February, government says

From Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa

 Federal Councillor Alain Berset speaks at a press conference on January 6 in Bern, Switzerland.
 Federal Councillor Alain Berset speaks at a press conference on January 6 in Bern, Switzerland. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The Swiss government plans to extend coronavirus restrictions -- including the shutdown of all restaurants, cultural and recreational sites -- by five weeks because of a "tense" epidemiological situation in the country.

A final decision on whether to extend the restrictions until the end of February will be taken on January 13, following consultations with Switzerland's cantons, or regions.

"The situation is not good, frankly it is bad," Federal Councillor Alain Berset said Wednesday during a news conference.

The epidemiological situation "remains tense: The number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as the pressure on health personnel are at very high levels," the government said in the statement, adding that the number of infections was unlikely to decrease significantly and sustainably in the coming weeks.

The Federal Council has revoked the option for cantons "with favourable epidemiological developments" to ease the restrictions.

Switzerland has reported 470,789 cases and 8,064 deaths so far, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Yesterday, Swiss health authorities said they had recorded 28 cases of the new, more contagious, variant of Covid-19 first identified in the UK.

8:41 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Seychelles reports its first Covid-19 related death

From CNN's Patrick Muirhead in Seychelles and Hande Atay Alam in Atlanta

Seychelles reported its first Covid-19 related death on January 3, according to the country's Ministry of Health. 

The patient was a 57-year-old Seychellois man who was hospitalized at the country's isolation and treatment center, the Health Ministry said.

"This is the first such death occurring in Seychelles and comes amid an uptick of new Covid-19 cases," the ministry said in a statement. 

The ministry reported 19 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 373.

Of these cases, 142 are currently active. 

"All who have tested positive are in isolation and contact-tracing and testing efforts continue," the ministry statement said. 

The total population of Seychelles is 96,762. 

8:50 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Here's how mutations could help the coronavirus evade vaccines

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London on December 8.
A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London on December 8. Frank Augstein/Pool/Getty Images

Two new variants of the coronavirus have emerged that seem to make the virus more easily transmitted. But will they stymie vaccination efforts?

One, first identified in Britain, has popped up around the world. While researchers worried at first that it might have changed enough to evade the protection offered by coronavirus vaccines, the evidence suggests it has not.

But a second new variant first seen in South Africa may carry changes that would help the virus at least partly escape the immunity provided by some of the current vaccines.

It has to do with where the changes are, and how they affect the shape and function of the virus.

All the current vaccines target what is known as the spike protein -- the structure the virus uses to get into the cells it attacks.

Read more:

8:35 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

These US civil rights icons received the Covid-19 vaccine, and they're encouraging Black America to do the same

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe and Jamiel Lynch

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron prepares to receive his Covid-19 vaccination on January 5 at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron prepares to receive his Covid-19 vaccination on January 5 at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Ron Harris/AP

US civil rights icons have taken part in a coronavirus vaccination event at a historically Black medical school in Georgia.

The event was held to encourage Black Americans to be immunized, Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine said in a news release.

Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, civil rights leader Xernona Clayton, former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan and baseball legend Hank Aaron all received Covid-19 vaccinations Tuesday.

Campaigns to encourage confidence in the vaccines against coronavirus have had to contend with America's history of racism in medical research and a lack of trust in the federal government.

Read more:

9:48 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

European Union drugs regulator recommends authorizing Moderna vaccine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is pictured during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 23.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is pictured during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 23. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorization for Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for its approval and distribution across the EU.

The European Commission is expected to now formally approve the vaccine.

"Now we are working at full speed to approve it & make it available in the EU," Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Twitter Wednesday.

The EU has already approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use across its 27 member states.

Earlier on Wednesday German Health Minister Jens Spahn said he hoped the country would receive the Moderna vaccine by early next week.

7:34 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Italy received 100,000 fewer doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine than expected

From CNN's Livia Borghese in Rome

A doctor prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Cremona, Italy, on January 6.
A doctor prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Cremona, Italy, on January 6. Marco Mantovani/Getty Images

Italy received 100,000 fewer doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine than expected this week, the office in charge of the country's vaccine distribution told CNN Wednesday.

According to the agreement between the EU and vaccine companies, Italy should receive 470,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine every week.

This week it only received 370,000 doses.

According to the country's Health Ministry, Italy has so far administered nearly 250,000 inoculations, which is 54.1% of the doses it received this week.

European Union countries are rolling out their vaccine programs but many have been criticized for slow starts to the drives.

7:21 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

German health minister asks for patience as frustration mounts over speed of vaccine rollout

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Jens Spahn, German health minister, attends a federal cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 6.
Jens Spahn, German health minister, attends a federal cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 6. Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has asked people in the country to be patient over the speed of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Spahn, speaking at a press conference Wednesday, said the first step was to get all those needing care and the oldest in the country vaccinated. 

He said almost 400,000 people in Germany had so far been vaccinated.

Figures from the Robert Koch Institute, the national agency for disease control and prevention, show that 367,331 vaccinations have been administered, with 150,000 in nursing homes and around 176,000 medical staff getting the shot. 

Germany lags behind the UK, which has vaccinated around 1.3 million people as of Tuesday. But it is ahead of France, which has also attracted criticism over a slow start to its vaccination rollout, administering 516 shots by January 1. The country has since significantly ramped up its rollout, with more than 5,000 doses given on January 5, according to its health minister. Italy has so far administered nearly 250,000 inoculations.

Spahn added that these were days of confidence for Germany.

But he also said he understood impatience in the population.

The truth is that the vaccine is a scarce good worldwide,” he said. 

“That is why we have to ask large parts of the population for patience,” Spahn said, explaining that the situation was no different in the wider European Union or beyond.

Spahn said the reason for the rollout speed was due to limited production capacity.

The good news: There will be enough vaccine in Germany," he said.

Spahn said the hope was to be able to offer a vaccine to everyone in the summer. 

“Today we expect a second authorization for the Moderna vaccine,” he said, referring to a pending European Medicines Agency decision on the Moderna vaccine Wednesday.

“We are hoping that the delivery of Moderna vaccines starts early next week."

7:21 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Bavarian leader says vaccination is the only longterm strategy against Covid-19

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Markus Soeder, Bavarian prime minister, holds a press conference on January 5 in Berlin.
Markus Soeder, Bavarian prime minister, holds a press conference on January 5 in Berlin. Andreas Gora/Pool/Getty Images

The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder has said that vaccination is the only real long-term strategy to fight against Covid. 

Speaking at a press conference in Munich, the German state leader said that while ordering vaccines was important, encouraging people to take the shots was also vital.

Soeder said it was important to launch a campaign encouraging people to get vaccinated. 

Bavaria was entering a crucial period now, he said, adding that “it has never been this bad.”

Germany's government announced Tuesday that the country's national lockdown -- which had initially been in place until January 10 -- will be extended until the end of the month.

The country recorded its second highest daily death toll from the coronavirus on Wednesday, with 1,019 fatalities recorded.

Soeder added: "Will everything be good on the first of February? Will everything be opened? I am not promising anything.”