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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5:12 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Chain drug stores ask states to transfer unused Covid-19 vaccine doses to pharmacies

From CNN's Gregory Lemos

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is asking states to transfer unused Covid-19 vaccine doses to pharmacies. 

"Any allocation that's out there right now that's sitting on shelves can be transferred to a community pharmacy," Kathleen Jaeger, a senior vice president for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said Wednesday. "A lot of that supply is out there, and it's not being used."

 On Thursday, New York is scheduled to start transferring vaccine doses to pharmacies in the state, Jaeger said. Ohio and Colorado are expected to start transferring vaccine doses to pharmacies very soon, she said.

In addition, the association wants states to soon start sending doses of vaccine directly from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies.

Nineteen pharmacy chains and associations have partnered with the federal government to carry out vaccinations in their stores. The federal pharmacy partnership program was announced by US Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar in November.  Jaeger said the program is expected to begin in early to mid-February with the exact start date dependent on vaccine supply.

5:07 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

France plans to test 1 million schoolchildren and teachers per month to keep schools open

From Barbara Wojazer in Paris

Blanquer speaks during a press conference in Paris on Thursday, January 14, on the current French government strategy for the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. (
Blanquer speaks during a press conference in Paris on Thursday, January 14, on the current French government strategy for the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. ( Thomas Coex/POOL/AFPGetty Images

Despite new countrywide restrictions in France – including a curfew — schools will remain open and plans are in place to test one million schoolchildren and teachers per month, French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced on Thursday.

It is essential that schools remain open because there are psychological, health and educational consequences,” Blanquer said.

He said health measures will be reinforced during mealtimes and sports activities in closed spaces would be cancelled.

Although schools have remained open for most of the pandemic, universities have mainly switched to online learning.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday announced a gradual resumption of in-person teaching at universities, saying he appreciated that the situation was “extremely difficult” for university students and their mental health.

University students “feel that the health crisis stole their best moments,” French Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal said, echoing concerns voiced in French media this past week.

All first-year students will be allowed to go to seminars in smaller groups starting January 25, and the measure could later be extended to students in other years depending on the epidemic, Vidal said. 

The government also announced measures to provide economic and psychological support to students.

These announcements come as the French government tightened restrictions nationally, with the extension of a 6pm-6am curfew to the whole country.

5:06 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Biden administration may focus on better coronavirus treatments, adviser says

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

The incoming Biden administration may put a greater emphasis on developing or finding new drugs to treat coronavirus, one top adviser said Thursday.

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at NYU who is advising the Biden transition team, expressed concern about the current administration’s focus on monoclonal antibodies – immune system treatments that appear to help some people early on in the course of infection. The US Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to two such treatments – one made by Eli Lilly and Co., and one by Regeneron.

“I think, big picture, we need to be thinking about other therapies right now,” Gounder told a webcast sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.

“We've been mostly focused on monoclonal antibodies and to some degree, remdesivir and some of the other immunomodulators, but we really need to be thinking about other antivirals,” Gounder added.

The antiviral remdesivir has been approved to treat coronavirus, although it appears to have at best modest effects. It is not a cure.

Monoclonal antibodies are very specific treatments and they might lose efficacy if the virus evolves much, Gounder pointed out. Scientists are checking to see if some of the variants first noticed in the UK and South Africa might be able to partly evade the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments.

“Here I am speaking as a member of IDSA – the Infectious Diseases Society of America. IDSA still does not recommend the use of monoclonal antibodies, despite emergency use authorization being granted by the FDA,” Gounder added.

4:26 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Texas becomes first US state to administer 1 million vaccines 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Houston Health Department LVN Alicia Meza prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, January 3, at Houston Health Department's COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Houston.
Houston Health Department LVN Alicia Meza prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, January 3, at Houston Health Department's COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Houston. Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle/AP

Texas is the first state in the US to administer 1 million vaccines, Governor Greg Abbott said in a press release Thursday. 

 The state has now inoculated 1,043,624 people with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

"The milestone comes exactly one month to the day after the first doses arrived at vaccine providers in the state on December 14," the release noted.   

4:34 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Ohio will start vaccinating people over 80 outside long term care, next week

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The Ohio Channel
The Ohio Channel

Next week, Ohio will start vaccinating members of the public who are 80 years old or older, Governor Mike DeWine (R) has announced. He also said the state hopes to lower the minimum age for vaccine availability by five years every week.

As of Thursday, 361,603 vaccines have been given in the state, he added.

Ohio has 750 provider locations across the state and approximately 100,000 vaccines, which will be available starting next week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, depending on delivery date, according to the governor.

“We don't have enough vaccines in Ohio right now, but we hope our allotment will increase in the future - but as of right now we must deal with this scarcity,” DeWine said.

On Friday, the state will launch a tool to allow Ohioans to see a list of providers offering the vaccine in their area. The state is also in the process of working on a state scheduling system, DeWine said.

5:05 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

California has fewer ICU beds available than ever before

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A nurse looks through a door into a patients room in a Covid-19 intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital on January 6, in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
A nurse looks through a door into a patients room in a Covid-19 intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital on January 6, in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Despite indications that hospitalizations are beginning to level off in California, the number of available ICU beds has dropped to the lowest level recorded yet, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.

There are currently 1,094 ICU beds available for California’s 40 million residents.

More than 22,000 people are hospitalized with the virus in the state, and nearly 5,000 of those are in intensive care units.

About 90% of the state’s residents remain under stay at home orders as state projections show ICU capacity and other factors will remain at critical levels for at least the next four weeks.

4:18 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

NIH: Not enough data to say whether ivermectin can help patients with coronavirus

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

There’s not enough data to say whether an antiparasitic drug called ivermectin can help patients with coronavirus, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.

A few doctors have heavily promoted the drug, but most mainstream medical professionals have been cautious about its use. Because there’s no cheap drug on the market specifically designed and approved to fight coronavirus, doctors have been trying out existing drugs.

There is reason to experiment with ivermectin, NIH said.

“Ivermectin has been shown to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture. However, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that ivermectin doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans would be required to achieve the plasma concentrations necessary to duplicate the drug’s antiviral efficacy in vitro (in a test tube),” it said in a statement posted Thursday.

The drug "demonstrates potential anti-inflammatory properties in some in vitro studies, properties which have been postulated to be beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19," the statement also said.

But so far, no one has shown it helps actual patients.

“Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide more specific, evidence-based guidance on the role of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19,” it concluded.

4:27 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

West Virginia leads the nation in terms of first Covid-19 vaccine doses administered per capita

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

CNN
CNN

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice credited a “practical” approach to vaccine rollout, as well as a break from the federal model, in his state’s success in administering vaccine doses.

He said that as of Monday, every vaccine dose the state received had been administered, or was assigned to be administered to an individual in the next day or so.

“We’ve absolutely not gone with the federal model,” Justice told CNN’s John King on Thursday. Instead of utilizing chain drug stores to administer the vaccine, the governor said they’ve relied on partnerships with local pharmacies as well as their state health department and national guard to get the job done.

West Virginia’s “practical approach” also prioritizes vaccinating older residents, through a program called Operation S.O.W., for “save our wisdom.”

West Virginia leads the nation in terms of first doses administered per capita, according to data published by the CDC on Thursday. More than 6,600 first doses have been administered per 100,000 residents – nearly double the national rate.

“It’s as simple as mud. If you can get shots in arms, you’re going to save lives,” Justice said. “We don’t need to sit around trying to develop systems or meeting with committees or whatever. We needed to act. We needed to move.”
4:10 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Instacart to offer $25 stipend for workers to take time off and get vaccinated

From CNN's Sara O'Brien and Shannon Liao

Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

Instacart, the on-demand grocery delivery platform, said it will provide some financial assistance for its essential workers to ensure they can take time off work to get a vaccine for the coronavirus.

The company said Thursday that beginning February 1, it will have a “vaccine support stipend” of $25 available for in-store employees and its independent contractors who have been vaccinated. To be eligible, its independent shoppers must have shopped and delivered at least five batches for the company in the past 30 days.

“Our goal with the introduction of our new Vaccine Support Stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don’t have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated,” said Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart in a statement.

Read more here.