January 14 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Florence Davey-Attlee, Ed Upright and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021
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7:57 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine generates immune response, few side effects, in early trials

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Early stage trials of Johnson & Johnson's experimental coronavirus vaccine show it generated an immune response in nearly all volunteers, with minimal side-effects, after a single dose.

The company expects to report details of more advanced trials later this month and is hoping to apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration soon after.

Researchers who tested the vaccine in a combined Phase 1-2 trial -- mostly meant to show safety -- found either one or two doses of the vaccine generated both antibody and T-cell responses against the coronavirus. The trials were not designed to show whether the vaccine protected people against either infection or symptoms of coronavirus -- that's what the ongoing Phase 3 trials are designed to do.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers who tested the vaccine in around 800 volunteers said the early stage trials showed it was safe and probably should work.

The researchers -- in the Netherlands, the United States and Belgium -- tested the vaccine in a group of people 65 and older and a group ages 18 to 55.

Vaccination elicited neutralizing antibodies -- expected to stop the virus from infecting cells -- in 90% of all participants by the 29th day after the first dose of vaccine and in all of them by two months after the first dose. The levels of these antibodies stayed stable for at least 71 days, they reported.

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12:54 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

WHO director asks wealthy nations to share vaccine with low income nations

From CNN's Gregory Lemos

In this February 19, 2020 file photo, Dr. Michael Ryan addresses a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
In this February 19, 2020 file photo, Dr. Michael Ryan addresses a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Xinhua/Chen Junxia via Getty Images

As Covid-19 case numbers continue rising globally, Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, on Wednesday called upon wealthy nations to help bridge a global vaccine inequity gap.

"There are populations out there who want and who need vaccines who are not going to get them unless or until we begin to share better," Ryan said during a virtual Q&A Wednesday.

In the 36 days since countries started vaccinating, 28 million vaccine doses have been administered, he said. According to Ryan, of the 46 countries who are currently vaccinating, only one is a low income country.

"We really have to look at this in terms of equity," Ryan said.

Ryan added there have been 5 million new cases of Covid-19 and 85,000 deaths linked to the virus globally in the past week.

"Essentially, all regions apart from Southeast Asia are showing increases," Ryan said, highlighting that the Americas still account for half of all new cases and 45% of deaths globally. 

"We've seen that perfect storm of the season, the coldness, people going inside, increased social mixing, and a combination of factors that have driven increased transmission in many, many countries," Ryan said.

"It's interesting when we talk about tolerance, kindness and solidarity, that they are probably the most powerful countermeasures we have right now," he added. "You have to have the attitude that this disease ends with me."

7:46 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

The US just suffered its worst day ever for Covid-19 deaths. But this summer could be "dramatically better"

From CNN's Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan

Covid-19 is now killing faster than at any point in 2020. And the new year just started.

The US reported its highest number of Covid-19 deaths in one day Tuesday: 4,327, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In fact, the five highest daily tallies for new infections and new deaths have all occurred in 2021.

Over the past week, the US has averaged more than 3,300 deaths every day, a jump of more than 217% from mid-November.

More than 3 million new US cases have been reported in the first 13 days of the year. As of Wednesday, more than 23 million Americans have been infected with the virus, a million more than just four days earlier, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why June could be "dramatically better": While those "awful" numbers will likely continue this winter, better months are coming, said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the US Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Mass vaccinations, warmer weather, a new presidential administration and a population building immunity could lead to a "dramatically better" summer, he said.

Two "remarkably effective" vaccines are already being administered, and two more vaccines -- from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca -- "are right around the corner," Offit said.

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7:49 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Chinese Covid-19 vaccine far less effective than initially claimed in Brazil, sparking concerns

From CNN's Nectar Gan and Tatiana Arias

A leading Chinese Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech was just 50.38% effective in late-stage trials in Brazil, significantly lower than earlier results showed, according to a statement published by the government of Sao Paulo Tuesday.

While the number exceeds the threshold required for regulatory approval, it falls far below the 78% previously announced, raising questions as to the veracity of the data and fueling skepticism over the apparent lack of transparency regarding Chinese vaccines.

Analysts said the efficacy rate of Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine in Brazil -- the lowest among its global competitors -- could affect international confidence in Chinese-made vaccines and hamper Beijing's effort to repair its image from its early mishandling of the initial outbreak by providing Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries.

"The Butantan Institute and the Government of Sao Paulo report that the coronavirus vaccine achieved a 50.38% overall efficacy rate in the clinical study conducted in Brazil, in addition to (an efficacy rate of) 78% for mild cases and 100% for moderate and severe cases of Covid-19. All rates are higher than the 50% level required by the WHO (World Health Organization)," the statement released Tuesday said.

The razor-thin margin for regulatory approval is likely to lead to concern among scientists, given that last week the Butantan Institute released partial "clinical efficacy" results celebrating 78% to 100% efficacy in preventing infections.

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