January 24 coronavirus news

By Jenni Marsh, Joshua Berlinger and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021
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2:45 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

FDA: “Modest delays” between Covid-19 vaccine doses aren’t expected to decrease protection

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A man receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a vaccination site in the Bronx, New York, on January 10.
A man receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a vaccination site in the Bronx, New York, on January 10. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

"Modest delays” between first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccine are not expected to decrease protection against the virus, the US Food and Drug Administration told CNN Saturday.

Previously, the agency had warned that changes to vaccine schedules without appropriate data could put public health at risk. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week updated its guidance to say second doses of Covid-19 vaccines may be scheduled up to six weeks after initial doses, if necessary. The CDC said that second doses should be administered as close as possible to the recommended interval -- three weeks after the first dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and four weeks after the first dose for the Moderna vaccine. 

In its statement on Saturday, the FDA said it “recognizes that getting as many people as possible across the country fully immunized will help to curtail the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19 and should be a priority."

“Modest delays in the administration of the second dose, if absolutely necessary, would not be expected to decrease the protection conferred by the second dose and are preferable to not completing the 2-dose series.”

Earlier this month, when concerns about the availability of vaccines prompted suggestions to extend the length of time between doses, FDA officials doubled down on initial recommendations.

 “At this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence,” FDA officials wrote on January 4. “Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from Covid-19.”

Clinical trials showed both vaccines are about 95% effective, when used according to recommended dosages and dosing intervals. The FDA noted that it has not evaluated data regarding the protection provided by the vaccines if there are longer delays in administering the second dose.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Friday that he didn’t think it would make a big difference if a person’s second dose took place two or three weeks after the recommended time. 

“I don’t see a big problem with that if the situation on the ground means the stress is such you can’t precisely do 28 days or 21 days,” Fauci said.
2:04 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Washington state reports its first 2 cases of the Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK

From CNN’s Carma Hassan

Two residents of Washington state have tested positive for the Covid-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, the Washington State Department of Health said.

As of Friday, at least 195 cases of the variant been identified in 22 US states, according to data posted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant has also been found in at least 60 countries worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

12:45 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

US President Joe Biden urges patience as frustration grows over vaccine supply

Analysis by CNN's Maeve Reston

While outlining his plan to halt the spread of the coronavirus last week, President Joe Biden tempered his ever-present optimism with a dose of realism about the potent staying power of this deadly pandemic and the fact that the nation's vaccine distribution system is a long way from becoming an efficient machine.

"Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better," the new President said, noting that the US is likely to cross a half-million deaths next month as cases continue to mount. "We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it's going to take months for us to turn things around."

For many Americans who feel trapped in a never-ending season of grief, isolation and disappointment, the start of a new year, a new administration and a new Congress seemed to offer hope -- however naïve it was -- that there would be some flip of a switch that could speed up the nation's lurching process for getting shots into arms.

But even as Biden announced a series of executive actions last week intended to curb the pandemic, the reality is sinking in that Americans may be stuck in this maddening purgatory for a while longer -- with their state governments finally in possession of vaccines that can protect them, but most people still finding them out of reach.

Read more:

12:35 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reviewing new data that suggests coronavirus variant identified in UK could be more deadly

From CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen

A sign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seen in Atlanta, on December 10.
A sign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seen in Atlanta, on December 10. Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection are speaking with UK health officials to learn more about British data that suggests a new coronavirus variant could be more deadly.

"The CDC has reached out to UK officials and is reviewing their new mortality data associated with variant B.1.1.7," a CDC official told CNN Saturday, using the scientific name for the variant first spotted in the UK in November.

UK report released Friday states there is "a realistic possibility" that the new variant has a higher death rate than other variants.

While the data is not conclusive, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "there is some evidence that the new variant ... may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."

While the data is not conclusive, Johnson said "there is some evidence that the new variant ... may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."

Read more:

12:35 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

About 10,000 people are locked down for the weekend in a dense Hong Kong district

From CNN's Pauline Lockwood

Police patrol the streets while wearing protective gear as authorities continue testing for the second day in the Jordan area of Hong Kong, on January 24.
Police patrol the streets while wearing protective gear as authorities continue testing for the second day in the Jordan area of Hong Kong, on January 24. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong has imposed a temporary lockdown on residents in coronavirus hotspots -- a first in the city’s battle against Covid-19.

In a statement released early Saturday, the Hong Kong government made a "restriction-testing declaration," which requires residents from parts of the bustling neighborhood of Jordan to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing arranged by the government. 

Jordan, in the Kowloon peninsula, is a dense and thriving urban area with high-rise apartments, businesses and restaurants. The lockdown area includes Temple Street, home to the iconic night market popular with tourists. 

About 10,000 residents are affected by the lockdown, the government’s information office told CNN on Saturday.

Residents from buildings in the designated area are prohibited from leaving their homes until testing has been completed. The government says the compulsory testing is expected to take 48 hours. 

Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sin, said in a news conference Saturday that water from the pipes of several buildings in the area was being tested to ascertain whether the coronavirus is spreading through sewage. 

In a separate statement Saturday, the Hong Kong government announced that roads in the “restricted area” would be closed to traffic. 

Hong Kong recorded 61 new Covid-19 on Friday, including 55 local transmissions. 

11:59 p.m. ET, January 23, 2021

The UK has the "highest death rate" in the world

From CNN’s Haley Brink and Rob Picheta

The United Kingdom currently tops the global list of highest deaths per 100,000 residents, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The country reported its highest��ever single day death toll on Wednesday with 1,820 daily new deaths reported, and has been averaging about 1,240 daily new deaths over the last seven days.

Country-by-country comparisons are imperfect, given that they rely on data from each individual nation.

But the UK's recorded death toll, from a population of 66 million, far outweighs the record tolls in other major countries, including the US, on a per capita basis.

So far the United Kingdom has tallied 96,166 total deaths since the pandemic began. 

Countries with the highest deaths per capita

  1. United Kingdom: 142.53
  2. Czech Republic: 140.91
  3. Italy: 139.34
  4. United States: 125.35
  5. Spain: 117.80

12:35 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Biden administration has set a "strikingly different" tone on pandemic response, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives for an event with President Joe Biden at the White House on January 21.
Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives for an event with President Joe Biden at the White House on January 21. Alex Brandon/AP

The Biden administration has set a “strikingly different” tone on coronavirus pandemic response than the Trump administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday.

During an MSNBC interview, Fauci said that after meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, it’s clear to him that “science will rule, and science will speak,” when it comes to coronavirus response.

Serving under the Trump administration, Fauci said he was often in the uncomfortable position of having to contradict Trump’s misinformation about Covid-19.

“I had to do it, because I felt that the only way that I could maintain, not only my own credibility, but the credibility of the scientific enterprise, was to speak the truth all the time,” he said. 

“There was the constant pressure that sometimes the truth would be upsetting to some people,” including Trump and those around him, said Fauci. 

He added that political appointees on the White House coronavirus task force were in an “even more difficult situation.”