January 27 coronavirus news

By Zahid Mahmood, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 28, 2021
4 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:13 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

US consumers may be about to get the first standards for face masks

From CNN's Keri Enriquez and Sandee LaMotte

N95 masks are regulated for fit, filtration efficiency, flammability and other qualities.
N95 masks are regulated for fit, filtration efficiency, flammability and other qualities. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A draft of the first national mask evaluation standard for consumer masks obtained by CNN shows proposed guidance would call for two tiers of certification.

  • A level one mask would require the product to filter 20% of particles -- something that would make the mask easy to breathe through, but that would provide minimal protection.
  • A level two mask would require "high performance" filtration of at least 50% of particles, but would provide less breathability.

The standards are currently in development with ASTM International and the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, which is an arm of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The current standards: Currently, only medical-grade masks and respirators must meet standards. These include N95 masks, which are regulated for fit, filtration efficiency, flammability and other qualities.

The new standards: The proposed standards will outline specific fit, design, performance and testing requirements for face masks and coverings, according to a draft of the standards provided to CNN by ASTM International. 

The draft evaluates both single use and reusable masks, and outlines specific requirements. For instance, the standards would prohibit the use of vents, valves or any feature that allows air flow to bypass filtration -- though there are exceptions to this that reflect current CDC guidance.

The review process is ongoing, and these guidelines are subject to further review and change. The drafted guidelines will be further reviewed next week.

International standards: The ASTM draft standard currently is far different from standards required for masks in several European countries. Germany, Austria and France are now requiring people wear masks with a minimum filtration efficacy of 80-90% while on public transport, shopping or in public areas. 

7:42 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Covid-19 has killed 100,000 people in the UK. Experts say the government is still getting it wrong

From CNN's Angela Dewan

In March last year, the UK government said it was hopeful the country could cap its coronavirus deaths at 20,000. It was a bleak target to set, but one the nation came to begrudgingly accept.

Ten months on, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a somber public briefing Tuesday, in which he announced the country could now count more than 100,000 people as its Covid-19 dead, in what he called a "grim statistic."

Of the worst-affected nations, the UK has earned the dishonor of having the highest number of confirmed deaths in the world, proportionate to population.

A surge in case numbers that began in December has pushed hospitals to the brink. ICU workers say they have been forced to "dilute" their care and describe mental health struggles under unprecedented pressure. 

Schools are shut and have moved online, disrupting the lives of students and working parents alike. All but essential shops are closed. In England, socializing, even outdoors, is banned, except in pairs for exercise. 

There are few differences from the spring, when Britons suffered a devastating first wave and were put under a draconian lockdown. They are now asking themselves how they got here. Yet again.

When asked that very thing, Johnson has repeatedly pointed to a new and more contagious variant of the virus, now infamously known around the world as the "UK variant." Health Secretary Matt Hancock too has claimed the country's response was working until the new variant hit.

But it's not that simple. Like in the first wave, the government has been slow to respond to rising case and death numbers with restrictions. It has failed to get an adequate contact-tracing and isolation system running. And it has, again, been slow on border controls, only closing "travel corridors" with more than 60 countries or territories in mid-January amid record-breaking daily death tolls.

Read the full story:

2:38 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Johnson & Johnson says it’s "optimistic" about vaccine trial results, which may be available early next week

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Johnson & Johnson told investors it expects to share further details on its Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine study results by early next week.

“Stay tuned,” said Alex Gorsky, chief executive officer and chair of Johnson & Johnson’s board of directors, during the company’s earnings call Tuesday.

Gorsky said that the company is “hopeful” that the efficacy and safety data from the earlier trials is a “good precursor” to the kind of data in the larger population in its Phase 3 trial. 

“We won’t know for certain, but we remain optimistic,” Gorsky said.

Results from J&J's Phase 1/2a trials showed that a single dose of the vaccine induced a strong immune response in nearly all the people who got the shot. The immune response was similar across the age groups, according to the company.

If J&J’s trial shows its vaccine is effective, it could help speed up the slow US vaccine rollout. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose, while the authorized vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses three to four weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson is also testing a dual dose in a separate trial and said it should have data on that toward the end of the year. 

The company also said it’s watching closely how its vaccine protects against variants.

Joseph Wolk, J&J’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said that the company is currently “on track” to meet its manufacturing commitments to the US, EU and to developing countries. 

“There’s still some fluidity with respect to timelines,” Wolk said. 

Earlier, J&J committed to producing and deploying at least a billion doses of vaccine during the calendar year, including at least 100 million doses to the US.

Because the company doesn’t have the results yet, it said it was “premature to speculate” on the financial impact from the potential distribution of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

“I'm proud of the progress of our Covid-19 vaccine candidate. And the fact that we move so quickly while maintaining the highest level of science and safety standards,” said Gorsky. “Johnson & Johnson was built for times like these.” 
7:37 p.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Global tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpasses 100 million

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark

The world has now surpassed 100 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It's a figure that seemed almost unimaginable 12 months ago, when the first case had only just been confirmed on US soil.

A year later, the pandemic shows little sign of loosening its stranglehold on billions of people's everyday lives. Cases continue to rise sharply in some parts of the world, and every day the losses mount, as more people lose loved ones to Covid-19, lose a business or lose their livelihood.

On January 15, the official global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

While the 2 million figure is horrifying, experts say the real death toll is likely much higher. Only confirmed Covid-19 deaths are included in the tally, which means that people who die without a firm diagnosis may not be included.

Similarly, many people will have been infected with the coronavirus without having a positive test to confirm it. In the early stages of the pandemic fewer tests were available, and testing remains inadequate in many countries now.

Nonetheless, with a world population of some 7.67 billion, according to the latest World Bank figures, the global case tally suggests that about one in every 76 people has now had the virus.

Read the full story: