January 21 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Sharon Braithwaite, Eliza Mackintosh, Ed Upright, Zamira Rahim and Caitlin Hu, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 22, 2021
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9:15 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

It may be OK to mix and match Covid-19 vaccines in "exceptional situations," CDC says

From CNN Health's Michael Nedelman

While the two authorized Covid-19 vaccines are “not interchangeable,” it may be acceptable to get one dose of each in order to complete both doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance updated Thursday.

The guidance, which comes amid concerns surrounding vaccine supply and distribution, applies to Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines. Both use genetic material called mRNA as the basis for their vaccines.

“In exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum interval of 28 days between doses,” the CDC says.
“If two doses of different mRNA COVID-19 vaccine products are administered in these situations (or inadvertently), no additional doses of either product are recommended at this time.”

CDC says the safety and efficacy of switching vaccines hasn’t been evaluated. “Every effort should be made” to keep track of which vaccine people received and ensure they get the same one for their second dose several weeks later, the recommendations say.

The agency says its guidance may be updated as new information and new types of Covid-19 vaccines become available.

8:53 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Portugal bans UK flights due to Covid-19 variant

From CNN's Hira Humayun in Atlanta

Portugal will suspend flights with the UK starting Saturday, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a series of tweets late on Thursday.

The decision was made in order to “reduce the risk of contagion” based on the new coronavirus variant originally found in the UK.

“Close coordination in the response to the pandemic is essential,” he tweeted.

Costa said all 27 EU member states expressed concern about the variant at the EU Council on Thursday.

8:34 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Fauci forecasts "a degree of normality" this fall if enough Americans get vaccinated

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The United States can look forward to getting back to some semblance of normality by fall if enough of the population gets vaccinated this summer, top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.

“If we get 70% to 85% of the country vaccinated, let's say by the end of the summer, middle of the summer, I believe by the time we get to the fall we will be approaching a degree of normality,” Fauci said at a White House news briefing.

It was Fauci’s first appearance at a news briefing held by the new Biden administration, held on its first full day.

It won’t be perfectly normal by then, he said, but it will take the pressure off if three-quarters or more of the population gets vaccinated.

"The concern I have, something we're working on, is getting people who have vaccine hesitancy who don't want to get vaccinated because many people are skeptical about that,” Fauci added.

7:57 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

UK bans travelers from Tanzania and DRC over coronavirus variant concerns

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

The British Government is banning all arrivals from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo as of 4 am local time on Friday, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa.  

“To help to stop the spread of the COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa, we are banning all arrivals from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo from 4 am tomorrow,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted Thursday. 

“All passengers from these countries except British & Irish Nationals and third-country nationals with residents rights will be denied entry,” he added. 

The move comes just days after the government announced its decision to close all travel corridors as of Monday 18 January. 

Speaking during a press briefing last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said passengers wishing to travel to the UK “must have proof of a negative Covid test” no more than 72 hours before travel.

“You must then quarantine for 10 days, not leaving your home for any reason at all,” he added, stressing that the government will be “stepping up” enforcement of border controls.

UK announces closure of all travel corridors starting Monday

UK announces closure of all travel corridors starting Monday

By Amy Cassidy, Duarte Mendonca and Marnie Hunter, CNN

7:36 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Don't get a flu shot and coronavirus shot together, CDC tells Americans

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

People should not get a flu shot and a coronavirus vaccine at the same time, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminded Americans Thursday.

"Because of a lack of data on getting COVID-19 & other vaccines together, CDC recommends a 14-day interval before or after getting any other vaccines, including a flu vaccine,” the CDC tweeted.

 “As more information becomes available, this recommendation may change. Your healthcare provider can help you decide the best vaccination schedule for you and your family,” the CDC added on its website.


7:36 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Colombia surpasses 50k deaths from Covid-19 

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota and Heather Yamour in Atlanta

Colombia surpassed 50,000 Covid-19 related deaths on Thursday, as the country struggles to contain a dramatic spike in Covid-19 cases.

The country's Health Ministry reported 395 new deaths due to coronavirus, bringing the total number of lives lost to 50,187. 

The total number of cases in the country since the start of the pandemic is 1,972,345.

Colombia's largest urban areas have been enforcing strict social distancing measures since the beginning of the year in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Intensive care units in Colombia’s capital Bogota have been over 90% capacity for the last 10 days.

Colombia expects to commence vaccinations in mid-February, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz told CNN.

6:53 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

For the second time, US reports more than 1 million new Covid-19 shots in a day

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman and Deidre McPhillips

The US has reported more than a million new Covid-19 shots in a day, according to data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday.

This is an increase from the 16.5 million administered doses reported Wednesday, marking the second time a reported single-day increase has surpassed one million. 

More than 17.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, of the 38 million that have been distributed, according to data published by the CDC. 

The last time this happened was Friday when 1.1 million new doses were reported. Over the past seven days, an average of 914,000 doses have been administered per day. 

About 2.4 million people have received both doses, according to the CDC.


6:43 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

EU leaders consider tougher border restrictions as coronavirus cases surge

From CNN’s James Frater in London

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a video conference meeting of the members of the European Council focused on the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, in Brussels, on January 21.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a video conference meeting of the members of the European Council focused on the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, in Brussels, on January 21. Olivier Hoslet/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission has proposed tougher restrictions on travel both within and to the European Union to limit non-essential travel as cases of coronavirus surge across the continent.

“In view of the very serious health situation, all non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged, both within the country and of course across borders,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday following a video summit with EU leaders.
“With regard to the external borders, we will also propose to have additional safety measures. For those traveling from third countries on essential travel to Europe we would, for example, require testing before departure,” she added.

During the summit, Member States agreed “unanimously” to recommend a common framework for the use of rapid antigen tests and the mutual recognition of coronavirus test results across the EU.

“The mutual recognition of test results for SARS-CoV2 infection carried by certified health bodies is essential in order to facilitate cross-border movement, cross-border contact tracing, and treatment,” the European Council said in a statement. 

“This is a central tool to help mitigate the spread of the virus and contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market,” the statement added.

The European Commission is expected to assess and consider the details of the proposed measures on Monday.

6:26 p.m. ET, January 21, 2021

Former Brazilian President Lula says he has recovered from Covid-19

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta and Patrick Oppmann in Havana

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, tweeted a statement Thursday that said he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was in "excellent recovery."

Lula, his fiancée, and seven members of his entourage had been tested for Covid-19 last month in Brazil before departing for a trip to Cuba, and again upon arrival on Dec. 21.

But a third test in Cuba on Dec 26 revealed positive results for him and other members of his team, according to the statement, “confirming that they were imported cases through epidemiological investigation.”

Lula said he had been diagnosed with lung lesions but did not require hospitalization.

“I and my entire team are grateful for the dedication of the health professionals and the Cuban public health system who were with us in daily care," he said, adding that he was eager to be vaccinated and taking precautions:

“I am prepared to get the vaccine, as soon as we have a vaccine for everyone. I keep waiting for my turn in line, with my arm at my disposal to take as soon as I can. And while everyone is not vaccinated, I will continue with a mask, avoiding crowds and using a lot of sanitizer gel.”