January 29 coronavirus news

By Zahid Mahmood, Hannah Strange, Julia Hollingsworth and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 12:14 AM ET, Sat January 30, 2021
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8:28 p.m. ET, January 28, 2021

Novavax says UK Phase 3 trial shows its coronavirus vaccine has 89% efficacy 

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A Phase 3 trial of biotechnology company Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine shows it has an efficacy of 89.3%, the company announced on Thursday. 

The company also highlighted the vaccine’s apparent efficacy against new variants of the virus that have alarmed both politicians and scientists.

The trial, conducted in the United Kingdom, included efficacy estimates by strain based on PCR tests performed on strains from 56 Covid-19 cases in the trial. The vaccine was found to have 95.6% efficacy against the original novel coronavirus and 85.6% against the variant first identified in the UK, known as B.1.1.7. 

The company also announced that a Phase 2b study conducted in South Africa, where another variant was first identified, showed 60% efficacy. 

"With today’s results from our UK Phase 3 and South Africa Phase 2b clinical trials, we have now reported data on our Covid-19 vaccine from Phase 1, 2 and 3 trials involving over 20,000 participants," Stanley Erck, Novavax president and CEO, said in the announcement. 

The company's vaccine, known as NVX-CoV2373, “is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against Covid-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly emerging UK and South Africa variants,” Erck said. 
“NVX-CoV2373 has the potential to play an important role in solving this global public health crisis."

Shabir Maddi, principal investigator in the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trial in South Africa, said the South Africa data underscored the "value of this vaccine to prevent illness from the highly worrisome variant currently circulating in South Africa, and which is spreading globally."

"This is the first Covid-19 vaccine for which we now have objective evidence that it protects against the variant dominating in South Africa,” Maddi said.
7:34 p.m. ET, January 28, 2021

South Carolina detects first US cases of coronavirus strain first seen in South Africa

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

South Carolina officials have announced the United States' first two confirmed cases of a more contagious coronavirus strain first spotted in South Africa.

There is no known travel history or connection between the cases, both adults, according to a release Thursday from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Both cases were originally tested in early January, according to Dr. Brannon Traxler, the health department's interim public health director.

Traxler told reporters that both cases were tested by PCR "very early in the month," are no longer contagious, and are doing well. 
"It does take a while for sequencing to be done," Traxler added.

One case was confirmed to the department late yesterday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the other was identified by the state's public health laboratory while testing samples over the past several days.

A spokeswoman for the state health department told CNN that no other cases have been linked to either one at this point.

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8:02 p.m. ET, January 28, 2021

German officials say AstraZeneca vaccine shouldn't be given to over-65s, citing lack of data

From CNN's Claudia Otto, Laura Smith-Spark and Nadine Schmidt

Germany's vaccine commission said the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine should not be given to people older than 65 years, amid a bitter dispute between the European Union and the drugmaker over delayed supplies.

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) at Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's main public health authority, found there is insufficient data on the effectiveness of the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, for this age group, according to a statement from the interior ministry on Thursday.

"Due to the small number of study participants in the age group ≥65 years, no conclusion can be made regarding efficacy and safety in the elderly. This vaccine is therefore currently recommended by STIKO only for persons aged 18-64 years," the panel said in its recommendation.

Responding to the announcement, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said "latest analyses of clinical trial data for the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine support efficacy in the over 65 years age group." The drugmaker is awaiting a regulatory decision by the European Union medicines regulator, the spokesperson added.

EU dispute: Thursday's announcement by the German Interior Ministry came amid an ongoing dispute between the European Union and AstraZeneca over delays to the delivery of its coronavirus vaccine to the bloc.

AstraZeneca has said it can't deliver as many doses as the EU expected, citing production challenges. But the European Commission, which ordered the vaccine on behalf of EU member states, says this is unacceptable, and the drugmaker must find a way to increase supply.

Vaccine shortages: The dispute comes as EU countries, including Germany, run low on vaccines, In Spain, the regional government of Madrid has paused administering first doses of the vaccine, to ensure there is enough to provide second doses for those who already got their first shots.

Concerns over expected shortages of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines means some French regions, including Paris, will push back or cancel appointments for first injections, the French Health Ministry said in a press statement on Thursday.

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7:44 p.m. ET, January 28, 2021

Only half of Covid-19 vaccines delivered to states have been used, CDC data shows. Here's one reason why

From CNN's John Bonifield

A possible explanation is emerging for why federal data shows only about half of the vaccine supply delivered in the US has been administered.

The nation's vaccine distribution figures have baffled observers for weeks, with states claiming they need more vaccine when the data indicates they still have many doses on hand.

Health officials for President Joe Biden sought to explain on Wednesday, at least in part.

Speaking at a media briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said not all vaccine that's been delivered to states is available for "inserting into people's arms."

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients took that explanation a step further.

"Some of what the states have right now is inventory to do the very, very important second shot," Zients said. "I think it's important that when you're looking at state's inventories that you recognize that some of that inventory is being held for the very important second shot."

Walensky, when asked by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday if it is the right approach for states to hold onto Covid-19 vaccine that is intended for second doses, declined to directly answer the question.

An administration official on Wednesday told CNN states should not be holding back second doses and that is not the Biden administration's guidance.

The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines currently available for emergency use in the US require two doses. A federal dashboard tracks the nation's distribution of these vaccines. The data shows how many doses of vaccine have been delivered to each state, but it does not differentiate between first and second doses.

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