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January 15 coronavirus news

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Brazil's Supreme Court orders federal government to take action on severe oxygen shortage in Manaus hospitals

A patient arrives at a hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on January 14.

Brazil’s Supreme Court and a federal court in Amazonas have ordered the country’s government to work to immediately resolve a severe oxygen shortage in the coronavirus-hit state. 

Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the federal government to take all actions within its power to alleviate the health crisis in Manaus, the Amazonas capital. 

Lewandowski instructed the government to draw up a “comprehensive and detailed” plan with strategies to deal with the deadly emergency within 24 hours. He also directed the government to immediately find oxygen and other necessary supplies for the Covid-19 patients hospitalized in Manaus. 

A federal court in Amazonas also intervened in the matter. A judge in Manaus ordered the federal government to immediately transfer all patients from the city’s public health system who may die due to lack of oxygen to places where they can get care. 

The order issued on Thursday said it was the federal government’s responsibility to send patients to other states. 

No plans to test most National Guard for Covid-19 before they deploy across Washington

National Guard members unload supplies outside the US Capitol on January 14, in Washington, DC.

The overwhelming majority of the more than 20,000 National Guard members expected in Washington, DC for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will not be tested for coronavirus before they are deployed from states or upon their arrival in the nation’s capital, a National Guard spokesperson told CNN. 

The Pentagon has authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members to help with inauguration security.

Testing for National Guard members sent to DC is “case dependent” but not widely required, the spokesperson said, noting there are some screening procedures – such as temperature checks – in place.

“Incoming Guard men and women are screened upon departure from their individual states and upon arrival to the DC Armory according to CDC guidelines. Temperature checks and screening questions are in place; masks and social distancing are required where the mission allows,” the DC National Guard said in a statement to CNN Friday.

The National Guard encourages coronavirus testing to personnel who are symptomatic or exposed to the coronavirus.

But as CNN has consistently reported, coronavirus can be spread by people who have no symptoms and, without testing, it is impossible to know whether any of the thousands of Guard members are carrying the virus. And they are being deployed with little warning.

The troops are also arriving in large numbers with the US having had its deadliest 14 days in the pandemic. More than 3.2 million new coronavirus cases have been reported in the first two weeks of 2021, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Earlier this week, Ohio National Guard Maj. Gen. John Harris expressed his concern for deploying the National Guard in his state.

“I’ll just remind you that these National Guard folks that we’re bringing on duty were doing something else just a couple days ago and had no idea they’d be coming here,” Harris said during a news conference. “Bringing these folks together collectively – it is a real concern for us.”

Research center to immediately deliver 6 million CoronaVac doses to Brazil's health ministry 

Staff prepare CoronaVac vaccines at the Butantan biomedical production center, in São Paulo, Brazil, on January 14.

The Butantan health research institute in São Paulo will immediately deliver 6 million doses of the imported CoronaVac vaccine to the federal government following an urgent request from the Brazilian health ministry, according to a document signed by Butantan leadership and shared by the research institute with CNN.

The health ministry underscored the “urgency” of immediately providing the vaccine – which has yet to be approved by Brazilian regulators – for use in the country’s vaccination program, according to reporting first published in CNN Brasil, which posted the official health ministry document requesting the vaccines.

On Thursday, Health Minister Gen. Eduardo Pazuello said the program will start on January 20.  

Regulatory agency directors will vote this Sunday on whether to approve emergency use of CoronaVac, which was developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and tested in Brazil in partnership with the Butantan Institute.  

The Butantan Institute on Tuesday released general results of tests carried out in the country that indicate a vaccine efficacy of a 50.38%.

New pandemic model predicts 567,000 Covid-19 deaths by May 1

The influential coronavirus model at the University of Washington is projecting 192,000 people will die from coronavirus in the US between now and May 1, bringing the total to 566,720 deaths by May 1.

That’s the same number the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected in its last estimate, released December 23. The group says more rapid vaccination efforts can bring the number down to 553,000 and universal mask use would take it down even further to 535,000.

The forecast offers some hope for the spring.

“We expect the death toll will reach 567,000 by May 1, with a likely peak at the beginning of February,” IHME said in a statement.

“Daily deaths are expected to decline steadily after the peak, reaching below 500 a day sometime in April due to seasonality and the scale-up of vaccination. By May 1, some states may be close to herd immunity.”

The model assumes that 22% of the US population has been infected with the virus.

“Despite huge reporting lags around the holidays leading to false declines in the last week of December and subsequent overestimated increases, it appears that there are two distinct groups of states. In most of the coastal states, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing, while the epidemic is trending down in much of the Midwest,” the IHME said.

But new variants could change projections. Earlier Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned a new variant called B. 1.1.7, first seen in Britain, could worsen the pandemic.

“If more transmissible variants spread in the US in the coming weeks, the peak could be delayed by weeks and the death toll substantially increased,” IHME said.

Either way, the worst is yet to come.

“Hospitals in many states will be under severe stress in the next four weeks. Expanding mask use, timely reintroduction of some social distancing mandates, and more rapid scale-up of vaccination remain the best options for reducing the death toll.”

The IHME team estimates 76% of Americans always wear a mask when leaving home. 

“We expect that 141 million people will be vaccinated by May 1. With faster scale-up, the number vaccinated could reach 179 million people,” the IHME said.

“Daily deaths will peak at 3,680 on February 1, 2021,” IHME said. “Daily deaths are estimated to be well below 500 a day in the month of April. By May 1, 2021, we project that 37,800 lives will be saved by the projected vaccine rollout.”

Pfizer says it has second doses of coronavirus vaccines for Americans, even if there's no stockpile

A pharmacist prepares to administer the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020.

Vaccine maker Pfizer says it has second doses of coronavirus vaccines ready to ship as needed – something that should reassure governors infuriated by the federal government’s announcement that it does not have a reserve stockpile of vaccine doses. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday there was no reserve stockpile, even though the Trump administration has been telling states for weeks it is holding onto second doses of vaccine to make sure people who get one dose can get the second shot on time.

Pfizer says it’s holding the vaccine doses.

“Operation Warp Speed (OWS) has asked us to start shipping second doses only recently. As a result, we have on hand all the second doses of the previous shipments to the US. We are working around the clock to produce millions more each day,” Pfizer said in a statement sent to CNN.

“We have and are continuing to work closely with OWS on our production, release and shipping schedules – to ensure Americans receive their first and second doses of the vaccine on time. We have provided OWS with a specific schedule and we foresee no issues in delivering on the commitments we have made,” the company added.

“Our facility in Kalamazoo, MI, is the primary manufacturing site of our COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. and we have shipped more than 15 million doses to destinations across the country as of today. We anticipate no interruptions in shipments at this facility, as we look to scale up our production of the vaccine to produce 2 billion doses worldwide by the end of 2021 (up from the previously communicated approximately 1.3 billion).”

Pfizer is contracted to supply the US with 200 million doses.

There is no "reserve stockpile" of Covid-19 vaccine doses left to release, HHS secretary says

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference on January 12 in Washington, DC.

There is no “reserve stockpile” of Covid-19 vaccine doses left to release, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt Friday. 

Though the Trump administration announced this week that it would release all available Covid-19 vaccine doses instead of holding second doses in reserve, a senior administration official told CNN Friday that many of those reserves were already released last year.

 When asked whether there is in fact a reserve of second doses left to release, Azar said, “No. There’s not a reserve stockpile.”

“We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we’re not sitting on a reserve anymore,” he added. “We’ve made that available to the states to order.”

Pfizer has told CNN it has the vaccine doses on hand to ship when the US asks for them.

“We have on hand all the second doses of the previous shipments to the US. We are working around the clock to produce millions more each day,” Pfizer said in a statement.

Pfizer CEO supports Biden vaccination plan

President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to administer Covid-19 vaccines at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on January 15.

Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said Friday he supports President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to try to speed up coronavirus vaccination in the US.

Biden laid out a broad outline Friday for vaccinating more people, saying he would try to get Congress to hire more public health professionals, would try to expand vaccination sites and would broaden the type of personnel approved to administer vaccines.

Bourla, whose company makes the first coronavirus vaccine to be authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration, applauded Biden’s words.

“This comprehensive federal plan utilizes as many doses as possible, opens up eligibility to a broader set of Americans, and ensures equity by focusing on the hardest hit communities,” Bourla said in a statement. “We are particularly aligned with the ideas of federally assisted vaccination centers, financial support to the States, mobile clinics to reach underserved urban areas and rural communities, vaccine availability in pharmacies and qualified health centers and an expanded public health workforce.”

The US is contracted to buy 200 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine.

North Dakota governor says statewide mask mandate will be allowed to expire Monday

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum in 2017.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday announced the state health officer’s statewide mask mandate will be allowed to expire on Monday. 

Speaking during a news briefing, Burgum said that while officials are seeing lower Covid-19 numbers across the state, “we must remain vigilant.” The governor encouraged the public to keep wearing masks “as part of the important work that we need to do to contain this virus and to maintain the strong position that we’re in.” 

The mask order initially took effect Nov. 14 and was extended from Dec. 14 until Jan. 18, when it will expire, according to a news release from the governor’s office. “The extension to Jan. 18 allowed for a 14-day incubation period to pass after Christmas and New Year’s to ensure the state wouldn’t see a surge in cases,” according to the release. 

Burgum also announced the executive order that limits capacities at bars, restaurants, and event venues will be modified from requirements to recommendations. This change will also take effect Monday.  

Biden plans to ask Congress for 100,000 coronavirus jobs 

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 15 in Wilmington, Delaware.

President-elect Joe Biden promised to help vaccinate more Americans against coronavirus by approving a wider range of professionals who can administer vaccines. He also said he would ask Congress to hire 100,000 more public health professionals.

In a fact sheet released before Biden addressed the nation to lay out his coronavirus vaccination plans, the Biden transition team promised to “surge the public health workforce.”

“President-elect Biden has asked Congress to make an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce, funding 100,000 public health workers to nearly triple​ the country’s community health roles,” the fact sheet reads.

“These individuals will be​ hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity ​that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.” 

State and local public health officials have said their services have lost many staff over the past 15 years and say they don’t have the personnel needed to effectively manage the pandemic. 

Biden also said he’d work to immediately expand those who are OK’d to give vaccines.

“President-elect Biden will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow additional qualified professionals to administer vaccines and strongly encourage states to use their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate,” the statement reads.

“The federal government, in partnership with states, will provide appropriate training, including thorough use of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.”

The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a little-known branch of the US military that includes medical professionals. Many Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff are members of the Public Health Service corps.

“The president-elect will also act swiftly to amend the current COVID-19 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declaration to permit certain qualified professionals, including retired medical professionals, that are not licensed under state law to administer vaccines to be able to do so with appropriate training in order to expand the number of qualified professionals able to administer the vaccine,” the statement added.

Biden on the state of the pandemic in the US: "We remain in a very dark winter"

President-elect Joe Biden discussed the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, saying the country remains in “a very dark winter.”

“Truthfully, we remain in a very dark winter. Infection rates are up we’re up to 3,000 to 4,000 deaths a day as we approach a grim milestone of 400,000 deaths in America. That’s staggering, to state the obvious,” Biden said this afternoon in Wilmington, Delaware, during a Covid-19 news conference. “[T]he vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far.”

Some context: The official global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 2 million on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The tragic milestone came just over a year after the first Covid-19 death was reported in Wuhan, China.

The US has recorded by far the highest total death toll in the world, followed by Brazil, India and Mexico. But the pandemic has reached every corner of the globe, and only a few tiny, isolated nations have reported no deaths.

Watch:

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Better communication with states about Covid-19 vaccine allocation is needed, Biden says

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 15 in Wilmington, Delaware.

President-elect Joe Biden pledged to better communicate with states about vaccine distribution, in the hopes of having a little less confusion about how many doses are coming and when.

In a fact sheet released as Biden relayed his vaccine plan Friday, the Biden transition team pledged to make sure as many doses of vaccine are made available as possible and as fast as possible. But clear communication is also needed.

It’s an especially important promise after states discovered Friday that the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed was not holding millions of vaccine doses in reserve, as had been widely assumed.

Governors, immunization managers and other officials expressed anger and dismay when they learned the Trump’s administration’s comments about holding back doses to ensure everyone who got a first dose would get a second one did not mean those second doses actually existed.

States were also confused about their initial allocations of vaccines in December.

“To effectively plan and scale distribution, states and localities rely on both advanced understanding of their allocations and timely delivery of their ordered doses,” the transition team said in the fact sheet. “Under President-elect Biden’s plan, the federal government will provide regular projections of the allocations states and localities will receive. The federal government will build on the operational plans in place to ensure the effective distribution, storage, and transit of vaccines to states, including support for maintaining or augmenting the vaccine-specific required cold chain.” 

The Biden team did not abandon the idea of holding some doses back in reserve.

“President-elect Biden’s plan will release the ​vast majority​ of the vaccines when they are available, so ​more​ people can get vaccinated quickly​, while still retaining a ​small reserve​ for any ​unforeseen​ shortages or delays,” the fact sheet read.

Biden plans to encourage vaccinating all Americans 65 and older to speed Covid-19 vaccination

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listens as President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 15 in Wilmington, Delaware.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to encourage states to vaccinate all Americans 65 and older in an effort to speed up the vaccination process. Biden is set to speak soon from Delaware on his plan to administer the vaccine.

“The process of establishing priority groups was driven by science, but the implementation has been too rigid and confusing. We now see doses of vaccines sitting in freezers unused while people who want the vaccine cannot get it,” the Biden transition team said in a fact sheet released Friday afternoon.

The current Operation Warp Speed team under President Trump has also encouraged states to broaden their vaccination guidelines beyond what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended. Only about 40% of doses of vaccine distributed have made it into people’s arms, according to the latest CDC data released Friday.

On Friday, the CDC reported 31 million doses of vaccine have been distributed and 12 million doses have been given to people.

Biden also said his administration would support the establishment of new, federally supported community vaccination centers across the country; pay states back for any use of the National Guard to roll out vaccines; set up mobile vaccination clinics; help make more vaccines available in pharmacies and work more closely with federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which provide health care to 30 million people.

“Given the critical role that these providers play in their communities, Biden will launch a new program to ensure that FQHCs can directly access vaccine supply where needed,” the transition team said.

“At the same time, the Administration will encourage jurisdictions to engage and work closely with health centers in their community vaccination planning. And to ensure that health centers have the resources they need to successfully launch vaccination programs, President-elect Biden has called on Congress to provide additional funds to support community health centers, and HHS will launch a new program to provide guidance, technical assistance, and other resources to prepare and engage these providers nationwide,” the statement continued.

Biden Covid-19 adviser: "We want to open the floodgates on vaccination"

Dr. Rick Bright testifies on May 14, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Rick Bright, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, said the administration plans to “push harder” on vaccinations as quickly as possible.

“We want to open the floodgates on vaccination and make sure everyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so as quickly as possible,” Bright told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “It’s going to take a lot of effort, a lot of hard work, and we’re going to do as much as we can as fast as we can.”

Bright said the Biden administration plans to partner with states and strive for equity in vaccinations.

Bright was ousted from his role leading the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and filed an extensive whistleblower complaint alleging that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored.

Operation Warp Speed under the Trump administration has “been very chaotic, very disruptive, and certainly not transparent and not in a coordinated fashion from the federal to state level,” Bright added. “President-elect Biden is going to improve those coordination[s], improve that communication so we can improve the efficiency by which we’re going to vaccinate Americans.”

US has administered more than 12 million doses to 10.6 million people, CDC says

People wait in line in a Disneyland parking lot to receive Covid-19 vaccines on January 13 in Anaheim, California.

The US has given more than 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 10.6 million people, according to data posted Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This breaks down to roughly 7 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 5 million from Moderna.

More than 1.6 million people have already received both doses of a vaccine, CDC said. The numbers indicate 900,000 more people have received a first dose of vaccine in the past day, and that just over 39% of vaccines distributed have gone into arms.

The data, which are current as of 6 a.m. Friday, shows 31,161,075 doses distributed, 12,279,180 doses administered; 10,595,866 people who have gotten at least one dose; and 1,610,524 people who have gotten both doses. The total doses administered comprise 7,153,268 from Pfizer/BioNTech, 5,122,662 doses from Moderna, and 3,250 that are not identified.

New, more contagious coronavirus variants mean US must double down on mitigation, vaccination, CDC says

The threat of new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus means the US must double down on efforts to protect people until a large number can be vaccinated, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. 

A variant first identified in Britain known as B.1.1.7 is being found in the US as well, and modeling indicates it could worsen the already terrible spread of the virus across the country, the CDC researchers said.

“Multiple lines of evidence indicate that B.1.1.7 is more efficiently transmitted than are other SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the CDC team wrote in the agency’s weekly report, the MMWR.

That means people need to do more to make sure everyone uses masks, tries harder to maintain social distancing and takes other measures known to reduce the risk of transmission. “Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public,” the researchers added. 

Plus, the CDC needs to do more to keep an eye out for new variants, and for the appearance of this one. 

“CDC has also contracted with several large commercial clinical laboratories to rapidly sequence tens of thousands of SARS-CoV-2– positive specimens each month and has funded seven academic institutions to conduct genomic surveillance in partnership with public health agencies, thereby adding substantially to the availability of timely genomic surveillance data from across the United States,” the team wrote.

“In addition to these national initiatives, many state and local public health agencies are sequencing SARS-CoV-2 to better understand local epidemiology and support public health response to the pandemic.” 

It’s not clear just how much more contagious any of the new variants are, the CDC noted. One variant first identified in South Africa and another one found in Japan among travelers from Brazil have yet to show up in US surveillance, the team said.

B.1.1.7 has been found in at least 50 countries and in a dozen US states.

UN secretary general calls on nations to share vaccines as world surpasses 2 million Covid-19 deaths

UN Secretary General António Guterres speaks in a video message on January 15.

In wake of the Covid-19 pandemic claiming 2 million lives, the head of the United Nations has called for countries to “commit now” to share excess doses of vaccines.

“The world’s leading economies have a special responsibility. Yet today we are seeing a vaccine vacuum. Vaccines are reaching high income countries quickly, while the world’s poorest have none at all,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a video message on Thursday. 

“Some countries are pursuing side deals, even procuring beyond need. Governments have a responsibility to protect their populations, but ‘vaccinationalism’ is self-defeating and will delay a global recovery,” Guterres said. “We need manufacturers to step up their commitment to work with the COVAX facility and countries around the world to ensure enough supply and fair distribution. We need countries to commit now to sharing excess doses of vaccines.”

Guterres specifically referred to COVAX, a World Health Organization global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for all countries. 

“Sadly, the deadly impact of the pandemic has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort. In the memory of those two million souls, the world must act with far greater solidarity,” Guterres said in his video message. 

“Safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out — and the UN is supporting countries to mobilize the largest global immunization effort in history. We are committed to making sure that vaccines are seen as global public goods — people’s vaccines.”

Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 2 million

More than two million people across the world have now lost their lives due to coronavirus.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 2,000,905 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

The US leads with the most deaths followed by Brazil and India.

Despite administration pledge, there appear to be no more "reserve" second vaccine doses to release

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine distribution on January 12 in Washington, DC.

Hopes of a surge in Covid-19 vaccine shipments under a new policy to release second doses held in reserve appear to be evaporating — with the revelation that those doses have already been distributed.

A senior Trump administration official told CNN Friday that when the administration announced that it would be releasing reserved doses last week, many of those reserves had already been released into the system starting last year as production was ramping up. 

The revelation seems to contradict what US Health and Human Services secretary announced on Jan. 12 at an Operation Warp Speed briefing, where he said the administration would be “releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve.”

The official who spoke with CNN pushed back on a report that the second-dose supply was “exhausted,” instead characterizing the reserve as a rolling and replenished supply with new production.

The source emphasized that the supply would still benefit from those extra doses already in circulation — but acknowledged that this means there will not be a sudden surge in distribution numbers, as many had been led to believe. 

Michael J. Pratt, the chief communications officer for Operation Warp Speed, also denied the notion the reserve was “exhausted” in a statement to CNN. 

“This week, nearly 13 million total doses have been provided to states to order, millions more than other weeks, as the reserve of second doses is completely made available to order against, Pratt said. “States have yet to fully order against their ordering caps. As stated this week, we have now moved to the phase where the full amount released to OWS is being made available to order, first to cover second doses, second to provide additional first doses.” 

The news shocked and angered officials in at least one state.

“I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration. I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted Friday. “This is a deception on a national scale. Oregon’s seniors, teachers, all of us, were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us.”

Oregon’s health director wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Thursday, demanding he reconcile his statement last week about “releasing the entire supply” with this revelation.

CNN obtained a letter written by Oregon Health Director Patrick Allen, in which he recounted a call with Brown and Operation Warp Speed Chief Operating Officer Gen. Gustave Perna on Thursday. 

“During that call, he informed us there is no reserve of doses, and we are already receiving the full allocation of vaccines,” Allen wrote. “If true, this is extremely disturbing, and puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk. Those plans were made on the basis of reliance on your statement about ‘releasing the entire supply’ you have in reserve. If this information is accurate, we will be unable to begin vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on January 23rd, as planned.”

CNN also contacted vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, as well as Moderna’s distribution partner McKesson and did not get a response. 

The revelation that second doses weren’t strictly held in reserve was first reported by The Washington Post, which also reported that the Trump administration shifted its strategy to begin tapping into second doses late last year.

“We are hearing there is not a stockpile of vaccine for second dose but that it was more of a ‘paper exercise,’” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “The stockpile appears to be all on paper, they were tracking anticipated need but not actually holding back product.”

The bottom line, Plescia said, is vaccine will remain scare for at least a few more weeks. 

“I think the original message got lost in a lot of overpromising,” Plescia said. “Until there is a more robust supply we need to be clear with the public that opportunity to get the vaccine is limited.”

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Nadia Kounang and John Bonifield contributed to this report.

UK announces closure of all travel corridors starting Monday

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference at 10 Downing Street in London on January 15.

The United Kingdom will close all travel corridors from 4 a.m. local time Monday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday.

Speaking at a news conference, Johnson stressed the only way to get into the country is by having a negative coronavirus test result.

“This means that if you come to this country, you must have proof of a negative Covid test that you’ve taken in the 72 hours before leaving. And you must have filled in your passenger locator form, and your airline will ask for proof of both before you take off,” Johnson said.

“You may also be checked when you land and face substantial fines for refusing to comply, and upon arrival, you must then quarantine for 10 days, not leaving your home for any reason at all. Or take another test on day five and wait for proof of another negative result and we will be stepping up our enforcement, both at the border and in the country,” Johnson added.

Pfizer reassures European commission that all guaranteed doses "will be delivered in the first quarter"

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement in Brussels on December 21, 2020.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has been briefed and reassured by Pfizer’s CEO that “all guaranteed doses of the first quarter will be delivered in the first quarter,” she said Friday.

In a statement released to CNN, Leyen said she “immediately called the CEO of Pfizer, and he explained that there is a production delay in the next weeks,” but reiterated that Pfizer would deliver the vaccines as agreed.

“He’s personally on the case in reducing the delay period, and to make sure that they will catch up as soon as possible. That was very important to convey the message to him that we urgently need the guaranteed doses within the first quarter,” Leyen concluded.

Earlier Friday Pfizer announced shipments from its vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, will be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021. 

The company said that in order to increase capacity to reach two billion, changes are needed to the process and facility, and additional regulatory approvals will be required. 

Canada responds to Pfizer vaccine shipping delays

Canada’s procurement minister called it “unfortunate” that Pfizer vaccine shipments would be delayed noting, “such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits.”

This comes as CNN reports Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine shipments will be temporarily reduced outside the US as manufacturing scales up.

Specifically Pfizer said on Friday that shipments from its vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, will be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021.  

Canadian procurement minister Anita Anand says that she believes Canada, by the end of March, “will be able to catch up such that we will be on track with the total committed doses for Q1.”

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Anand said:

“I understand from my discussions with Pfizer that all countries that are receiving doses from Pfizer’s European facility will be equitably treated in terms of the reductions.” 
“Pfizer believes that by the end of March we will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track with the total committed doses for Q1. This is unfortunate, however such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits.”

Anand said Pfizer will have some “temporary” delays at some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, so that they could further expand manufacturing capacity.

Pfizer will temporarily reduce Covid-19 vaccine shipments as manufacturing scales up

Workers unload containers carrying a shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on December 26, 2020.

Pfizer said shipments from its vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, will be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021. 

The company said that in order to increase capacity to reach two billion, changes are needed to the process and facility, and additional regulatory approvals will be required. 

There will be fluctuations in orders and shipping scheduled from Pfizer’s facility in Puurs, Belgium, in late January and early February. The facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which supplies the United States, will not be impacted. 

“As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility that will require additional regulatory approvals. Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January to early February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March,” the company said in a statement released Friday. 

On Tuesday Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he was confident the company would be able to produce two billion doses in 2021, but noted the manufacturing challenges.

“You know, it’s almost equally difficult to scale up manufacturing at that level so fast as it was to develop the vaccine and both teams can to rise to the occasion,” Bourla said. 

The company also said previously that because each vial can yield six doses rather than the expected five, it provides an additional 20% capacity. 

Biden administration will retire "Operation Warp Speed" moniker

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks before announcing his team tasked with dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 8, 2020.

The incoming Biden administration plans to retire the name for the coronavirus vaccine effort under President Trump – Operation Warp Speed – with a transition official for the incoming president telling CNN they are “moving to a new phase” of the coronavirus response.

“Operation Warp Speed was the Trump administration’s name for their response. We are structuring it differently and ours will have a new name,” said an official, who added that many of the “people who are working for Warp Speed who were critical to that operation will be critical to our response, too.”

Newly-appointed Dr. David Kessler will be part of that response, working as the chief scientific officer of the Covid-19 response out of the US Department of Health and Human Services under secretary-designee Xavier Becerra, the official said. His role will focus primarily on maximizing the supply of vaccines that are authorized or approved, and getting other vaccines online.

The process of getting shots in arms will be run out of the White House and the team led by Jeff Zients, the official said.

Gen. Gustave Perna, who is currently the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, will stay on in the Biden administration, the official said, but under its “new structure.”

Germany, Norway and Denmark react to Pfizer announcement temporarily limiting Covid-19 vaccine deliveries

Medical staff in Magdeburg, Germany, check a delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on January 8.