January 27 coronavirus news

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

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 28, 2021
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11:46 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Risks of contracting Covid-19 are "much higher" than mild risks of vaccines, CDC director says

From CNN's Elise Hammond and Maegan Vazquez

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. White House

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, saying the risk of getting sick with the virus is higher than having an anaphylaxis reaction.

"I want to take a moment here to emphasize that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and they work. And this is backed up with data," Walensky said at the White House Covid-19 Response Team's first press briefing on Wednesday.

She said that based on recent data, there were 2.1 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses administered of the Moderna vaccine. For the Pfizer vaccine, data showed 6.2 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses.

"Let me be clear, these are rare, treatable outcomes and the Covid-19 vaccines are safe. It's also important to put this into context. The risk with getting sick with Covid-19 are much higher than the risk of allergy or anaphylaxis from the vaccine," she said.

"While anaphylaxis can be scary, there are effective treatments, and patients generally do quite well," she added.

Walensky also said it is important to remember that there may be some side effects with the vaccine, including things like feeling feverish or having muscle aches.

"These are all normal and expected part of getting a vaccine, especially the second dose. These symptoms mean your immune system is revving up and the vaccine is actually working," she said.

Some background: President Joe Biden announced a plan to buy 200 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna to fully vaccinate the American population by the end of summer or early fall of 2021.

Biden said on Monday that he expects that the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day, raising the bar by roughly 500,000 more vaccinations than its target of one million per day in his first 100 days in office. He said that the US could surpass that initial target in about three weeks.

Hear from the CDC director:

11:46 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

CDC director: "The emergence of variants underscores the need for public health action"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on January 27.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on January 27. White House

The US has confirmed 308 cases of the Covid-19 variant that originated in the UK in 26 US states as of Jan. 26, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House coronavirus response team briefing on Wednesday.

In addition, the US has also identified its first case of the P1 variant first detected in Brazil, in Minnesota, she said. However, there are no cases yet in the US of the variant first detected in South Africa.

"The emergence of variants underscores the need for public health action," Walensky said.

"Viruses mutate and we have always expected that variants would emerge and we have been looking for them. The variants [that] have been identified recently seem to spread more easily, they're more transmissible, which can lead to increased number of cases and increased stress on our already-taxed health care system," the CDC director added.

Walensky emphasized that at this time, people should not travel unless necessary, continue to observe coronavirus safety measures like social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing, and getting vaccinated when they can.

"Get vaccinated when it's your turn. Also, some people may need help getting vaccinated. Please consider helping your neighbors and loved ones schedule or travel to their appointments," she said.

11:38 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

CDC stresses people should try to get second coronavirus vaccine dose on time

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on January 27.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on January 27. White House

There is some wiggle room on getting vaccinated against coronavirus, but people should try to get their second dose of vaccine on time, and they should try to make sure they get two doses of the same vaccine, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.

“The CDC still recommends that people get their second dose as close to the recommended interval as possible. That would be three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine,” Walensky said during a White House coronavirus response team briefing.

“However, we also know that life can get in the way, and that some of those doses may be missed in the best time window. And in those circumstances, the second dose may be given up to six weeks, or 42 days, after the first,” Walensky added.

“Second, the CDC has reiterated that the Covid-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. However, it's also true that in extremely rare circumstances, people may not simply remember, or have documentation of, which first dose they received. In these extremely rare situations, we have said that any available mRNA Covid-19 vaccine may be administered as the second dose," she continued.

 

11:26 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

CDC projects up to 514,000 US Covid-19 deaths by February 20

From CNN’s Ben Tinker

Embalmer and funeral director Kristy Oliver, right, and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of someone said to have died after contracting Covid-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary in El Cajon, California, on January 15.
Embalmer and funeral director Kristy Oliver, right, and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of someone said to have died after contracting Covid-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary in El Cajon, California, on January 15. Mario Tama/Getty Images

An ensemble forecast from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 479,000 to 514,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by February 20, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Walensky shared the updated forecast during a White House coronavirus response team briefing on Wednesday; the numbers have not yet updated on the CDC’s website. 

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published January 20, projected up to 508,000 coronavirus deaths by February 13.

The latest numbers: At least 425,406 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

11:35 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Happening now: Biden's Covid-19 team gives its first briefing

The White House Covid-19 Response Team during a briefing on January 27.
The White House Covid-19 Response Team during a briefing on January 27. White House

The White House Covid-19 Response Team and federal public health officials are giving an update on the government's pandemic response.

This will be the first of regular briefings from the team. The Biden Administration has said they will prioritize sharing information about Covid-19 on a regular basis.

Here's who is participating:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the president
  • Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair
  • Andy Slavitt, Senior Advisor to the White House Covid-19 Response Team
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator

This briefing comes as many states' governors are frustrated with vaccine roll out and supply delays. Biden has made clear that slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and getting 100 million vaccine shots into Americans' arms in his first 100 days in office are of utmost priority – goals that will shape whether Biden's first years in office are ultimately deemed successful.

While cases seem to be trending downward after the holiday surge, experts are saying don't let down your guard yet. January is already the deadliest month for the pandemic and health departments are discovering more cases of more contagious Covid-19 variants.

11:08 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Walmart says it has thousands of stores ready to administer Covid vaccines

From CNN’s Alison Kosik

Walmart says it has more than 5,000 stores and Sam’s Club locations “that are operationally and clinically ready to administer vaccines in our facilities and in communities through vaccination events.”

In a statement Wednesday, Walmart says it is preparing this week “to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines in Maryland, Texas, Delaware, Indiana and the District of Columbia to eligible populations as determined by each district and state.” 

The world’s biggest retailer has previously said that it has been preparing for a vaccine rollout for a year and that with 150 million people passing through its doors each week, “we’re in a unique position to reach people where they already shop.”

Walmart also said that “at full capacity, we expect we will be able to deliver 10-13 million doses per month when supply and allocations allow.”

11:14 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

British Home Secretary says people need to explain reasons for travel under new border regulations

From CNN's Lauren Kent

British Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks during a media briefing in London on January 21.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks during a media briefing in London on January 21. Matt Dunham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Under new UK border regulations, people exiting Britain must explain their reasons for travelling, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Wednesday.

Whilst announcing the new measures to reduce travel in Parliament, Patel said the "rules are clear" and people should stay at home unless they have a valid reason to leave.

"We will introduce a new requirement so that people wishing to travel must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel. This reason to travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure," Patel said.

She added that the government would heighten police enforcement of coronavirus travel restrictions and anyone found not to have a valid reason for travel would either be "directed home" or "face a fine."

Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government was set to introduce accommodations (for example hotels) for a 10 day quarantine for those who cannot be refused entry into the UK from high-risk countries.

The Home Secretary reiterated that the travelers would be people who can't be turned away but added that they will be arriving from red list countries where the UK has already imposed international travel bans. 

"They will be required to isolate for ten days without exception," Patel said, adding that the Department for Health and Social Care will set out further details on the hotel quarantine process next week. 

"We will continue to refuse entry to non-UK residents from red list countries which are already subject to the UK travel ban," she said.

11:08 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

NYC to receive 30% more doses of Moderna vaccine as a result of Biden plan

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Queens, New York, on January 11.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Queens, New York, on January 11. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York City will be getting 30% more doses of the Moderna vaccine, starting next week, resulting in 17,000 more doses each week, as a result of the Biden administration's most recent vaccine announcement.

“We’re going to need a lot more than that, but I’m also really happy,” to get those doses, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

De Blasio lauded the decision citing “real efforts in Washington, DC, to help us,” and praising President Joe Biden for “owning the mission.”

The city has to date administered 673,405 doses, de Blasio said – more people than in the entire city of Detroit Michigan.

He continues to call for the use of the defense production act, and for other pharmaceutical companies to produce the vaccines in formulas already approved.

Last week, de Blasio said the city was set to run out of vaccines soon if the state doesn’t receive more doses.

10:38 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

AstraZeneca has completed enrollment in its US Covid-19 vaccine trial

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

Vaccine maker AstraZeneca has completed enrollment in its Phase 3 clinical trial in the US, according to slides posted to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website Wednesday ahead of a presentation by a company representative. 

The slides clarify the ongoing trial, which includes more than 32,000 participants, will serve as “the primary basis” for the company’s application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, “with supporting data” from trials abroad.

Of the 32,459 participants enrolled, 26,327 received their second dose by Jan. 21, the slides say. About two-thirds of participants in the US trial receive the vaccine, and the remaining third receive placebo.

Some background: On Sept. 6, AstraZeneca’s US trial was put on pause in the US after a trial volunteer in the UK developed neurological symptoms. The trial resumed in the US on Oct. 28, after a review by the US Food and Drug Administration concluded it was safe to do so.

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.

Earlier this month, Operation Warp Speed’s Moncef Slaoui projected AstraZeneca’s vaccine could be authorized in the US by the end of March. The US has contracted to purchase 300 million doses of the company’s vaccine.