January 26 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021
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7:03 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Several hundred White House officials have been vaccinated

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Kaitlan Collins

Several hundred White House employees have now been vaccinated, two administration officials tell CNN, with more expected in the coming weeks.

Most officials who have received vaccinations work for the Executive Office of the President, meaning they operate inside the White House complex, either in the West Wing or Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door. Dozens of staffers are still working remotely but the White House is prioritizing vaccinations for people who work on site and aims to eventually vaccinate all in-person staff, an official told CNN.

Even with the vaccinations, White House officials are still wearing masks when on the grounds and many are working from home or participating in virtual meetings from their offices. 

The staffers, including those who have been working remotely, came to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building today for their first vaccinations.

6:53 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Pfizer says it's "laying the groundwork" for vaccine booster against variants

From CNN's Amanda Sealy

Pfizer said Tuesday it’s “laying the groundwork” to create a vaccine booster that could respond to coronavirus variants. 

“We should not be frightened, but I think we need to be prepared,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during the Bloomberg The Year Ahead event Tuesday. “Once we discover something that it is not as effective, we will very, very quickly produce a booster dose that will be a small variation to the current one.” 

Bourla said the company had discussed variants in the past and created a process to help it adapt quickly.

“We were working on a process that will allow us to do the development very fast,” Bourla said. “Now already we have started implementing this process.” 

In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, Pfizer emphasized that the process is to respond, “if a variant of SARS-CoV-2 shows evidence of escaping immunity by our vaccine.” 

“However, the studies needed to evaluate a vaccine that encodes an updated viral antigen have yet to be determined, in agreement with regulators. We will need to generate data that gives confidence that any updated vaccine is safe and effective. The updated vaccine to be administered as a booster would be subject to regulatory approval or authorization,” the statement said.

Last week, Ugur Sahin, who helped invent the BioNTech vaccine being made and distributed by Pfizer, tested his vaccine against the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the UK. The team found “no biologically significant difference in neutralization activity,” they reported in a pre-print report. But they said it would be “prudent” to start tweaking the vaccine, just in case.

Vaccine maker Moderna announced on Monday two doses of its vaccine are expected to be protective against emerging strains of coronavirus detected so far, but out of an abundance of caution, it planned to test booster shots.

6:24 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

New York governor blames Trump for vaccine shortage

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

CNN
CNN

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded with relief today to President Biden's announcement that he would purchase 200 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccines, welcoming a "competent" federal response.

"You have a competent, professional, federal government that tells the truth," said the New York Democrat. "That's the truth and that's competence and that's taking responsibility."

Cuomo went on to argue that a number of missteps by the Trump administration had lead to confusion in the Empire State and the general mishandling of the federal response had cost lives. 

"By the federal guidelines 7 million people [in New York] are eligible for the vaccine, but I only get 250,000 dosages," Cuomo told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "So they told 7 million New Yorkers, 'you're eligible, but it would take seven months for you to get the vaccine.'" 

"That's just madness," continued Cuomo. "...Look, incompetent government can kill people. This is not a joke. And more people died here than needed to."

6:17 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

AstraZeneca will speak Wednesday at emergency meeting of CDC advisers 

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

 A staff member holds a dose of the Oxford/Astrazeneca coronavirus vaccine at a coronavirus vaccination clinic at the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East in Sunderland, England, on Tuesday, January 26.
A staff member holds a dose of the Oxford/Astrazeneca coronavirus vaccine at a coronavirus vaccination clinic at the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East in Sunderland, England, on Tuesday, January 26. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/AP Images

Vaccine maker AstraZeneca has confirmed to CNN that a representative of the company will speak Wednesday at an emergency meeting of advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN previously reported the upcoming meeting agenda lists an unspecified “COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturer” in attendance.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson did not share further details on what its representative plans to discuss.

The CDC advisory group — known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — will address a number of topics over the daylong meeting, including progress in administering vaccine doses, safety of the vaccines, testing of the vaccines in children and studies on the effectiveness of the vaccine.

ACIP members are not expected to vote during the meeting, said a CDC spokesperson previously.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has not been authorized for emergency use in the United States, but it has in other countries such as the UK and India. In September, its trial was put on pause in the US after a trial volunteer in the UK developed neurological symptoms. The trial resumed in the US about six weeks later, after a review by the US Food and Drug Administration concluded it was safe to do so.

5:08 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Biden announces purchase of 200 million more doses of Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden announced Tuesday that the US is buying 200 million more doses of coronavirus vaccines, and hopes to have them by summer as part of a package of measures aimed at speeding up and increasing vaccine supply for the US.

The US plans to buy 100 million more doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 million more from Moderna, he said.

That’s a 50% increase in the order for each vaccine, increasing the planned supply from 400 million to 600 million, Biden said.

Pfizer and Moderna are working to step up production.

Biden added the additional vaccine supply will be enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans by end of the summer and beginning of the fall.

4:58 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Biden administration announces increase in coronavirus vaccine supply to states

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Aclinical pharmacist with Seattle Indian Health Board prepares to administer a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on December 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
Aclinical pharmacist with Seattle Indian Health Board prepares to administer a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on December 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Karen Ducey/Getty Images/FILE

The Biden administration announced Tuesday an increase in vaccine supply to states.

"First, after review of the current vaccine supply and manufacturing plants, I can announce that we will increase overall weekly vaccination distributions of states, tribes and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses," President Biden said in remarks Tuesday.

"Starting next week. That's an increase of 1.4 million doses per week... You all know that vaccines were distributed to states based on population, based on population. The smaller the state, the less vaccine. The bigger the state, the more they get. And so this is going to allow millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated. We've got a long way to go, though," he added.

States have been saying they don’t have enough vaccine, and many have also said they have been getting confusing information about how much vaccine they are getting and when from the federal government.

The official said the government plans to try to fix this. “And to give state and local leaders the transparency of supply they’ve been asking for, HHS will provide allocation estimates three weeks in advance and the estimates will be updated on a running basis so every state has at least three weeks’ notice to help them plan for their vaccination distribution and administrations,” a senior administration official said.

This does not include any extra vaccines that might win emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has granted EUA to two vaccines – one made by Moderna and one by Pfizer with its partner BioNTech. Johnson & Johnson is working on a vaccine and expects to report its results from clinical trials within weeks.

“We are obviously hopeful that there will be an additional source of supply. If that is the case, you can be sure we will be taking advantage of that,” the official said.

4:55 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Ohio governor wants every kid back in school by March 1

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Ohio Channel
Ohio Channel

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wants every kid to be back in school by March 1, he announced in a news conference today.

DeWine says his goal is to have anyone who works at a school receive their first dose of the vaccine in the month of February at the very least. School employees in Cincinnati will start receiving their vaccine next week.

Ohio is averaging 146,000 first doses of the vaccine being administered a week, DeWine added. Currently, people older than 75 and those with certain medical conditions are able to receive vaccines. On Feb. 1, those 70 and older and employees of K-12 schools will be eligible for the vaccine. Beginning Feb. 8, vaccines will be taken directly to affordable senior housing.

DeWine said the state will have an additional 77,000 doses to distribute over the next two weeks, because several nursing home residents and staff opted not to receive the vaccine. 

DeWine also said that in light of hospitalizations going down in the state, he is considering lessening the current curfew. If hospitalizations in Ohio stay below 3,500 for seven days straight, the curfew will move to 11p.m. – this could happen as early as this Thursday and will stay in place for at least two weeks. If hospitalizations go below 3,000 for seven days straight, the curfew will move to midnight for at least two weeks, and if hospitalizations go below 2,500 for 7 days straight, the curfew will be completely lifted.

Ohio is reporting 4,262 new cases of Covid-19, 88 deaths from Covid-19 and 295 additional hospitalization for a total of 2,964 people currently hospitalized with Covid-19.

Note: These numbers were released by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:45 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

California's regional stay-at-home order "lifted at the right time," says top health official

From CNN's Sarah Moon

As some elected officials continue to question the timing of the state lifting its stay-at-home order, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a news conference Tuesday that he believes it was lifted “at the right time.” 

“This was not a regional stay-at-home order based on community transmission rates only, it was really focused on what we would see in the hospitals a few weeks out,” Ghaly explained.

The state lifted its regional stay-at-home order for all five regions on Monday as health officials now expect the intensive care unit bed capacity to meet the 15% threshold in four weeks.

Since health officials look at a four-week projection, Ghaly said that he has previously mentioned that the stay-at-home order can be lifted when hospitals still have a high census of coronavirus patients.

“We know today’s cases become hospital cases in about two weeks, ICU cases three to four weeks later, so we want to really determine what the impact is of our current case numbers, our current transmission rates, our current test positivity on where we’re going to be in the hospitals,” Ghaly said. “We have to look about four weeks out.”

What the numbers show: The state continues to see a downward trend in its cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

California on Tuesday reported 17,028 new cases of the virus and 409 additional deaths, both numbers well below the 14-day average of 28,993 cases and 501 deaths.

The 14-day test positivity rate has also dropped to 9%, a 33% decrease since the state reported its highest percentage earlier this month, according to Ghaly.

In the past two weeks, hospitalizations have decreased over 20%.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of when the first two cases of the virus were reported to the California Department of Public Health, one case in Los Angeles County and another in Orange County. In one year, over 37,500 Californians have lost their lives to the virus, which Ghaly called an “immeasurable loss.”

To date, California has a total of 3,153,186 coronavirus cases and 37,527 deaths.

Note: These numbers were released by the California Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

4:36 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Biden administration promises to have enough coronavirus vaccine for all Americans by the end of summer

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

The Biden administration promised on Tuesday to have enough coronavirus vaccine for the entire US population by the end of summer.

“Today, the President is announcing bold steps that will help meet the goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days, and ramp up vaccine supply as fast as possible. As a result of these actions, the federal government will have enough vaccine supply for the entire US population by the end of the summer,” the administration said in a fact sheet. 

Among the promised actions: a 50% increase in purchased vaccines from makers Moderna and Pfizer, with 200 million extra doses to be delivered by the end of summer, plus an increase in deliveries to states now from 8.6 million doses a week to 10 million doses a week.

We wish we could say today that every American who wants a vaccine could get one. That’s clearly not the case,” a senior administration official told reporters.

“It’s not the level of supply we found when we arrived. It’s going to take a number of months before we can say to American it’s open season, as (Dr. Anthony) Fauci calls it. But with the announcement today, we’ve purchased enough today to vaccinate 300 million Americans.”