February 4 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jo Shelley, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
4 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:26 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

US surpasses 450,000 total deaths from Covid-19

From CNN’s Haley Brink

There have been at least 450,680 reported deaths from Covid-19 in the United States since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 26,554,216 total coronavirus cases have been reported in the US, university data showed.

Johns Hopkins recorded the first death from Covid-19 on Feb. 29 in Washington state. Later in the spring, two earlier deaths in California were posthumously confirmed to be from Covid-19.

There are four other countries in the world that have reported over 100,000 total Covid-19 deaths, according to the university. Brazil has more than 200,000 total deaths while Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom have over 100,000.

11:24 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Here's the latest on the race to distribute Covid-19 vaccines across the world

From CNN's Diego Mendoza

RAF personnel load a batch of the Covid-19 vaccine onto a Voyager aircraft bound for the Falkland Islands at RAF Brize Norton on February 01, 2021 in Brize Norton, England.
RAF personnel load a batch of the Covid-19 vaccine onto a Voyager aircraft bound for the Falkland Islands at RAF Brize Norton on February 01, 2021 in Brize Norton, England. Leon Neal/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the world, and in the United States, January marked the deadliest month of the pandemic so far. At the same time, the worldwide race to distribute vaccines is on.

If you're just catching up now, here's a look at the latest vaccine news:

  • North Korea vaccines: COVAX says it will distribute nearly 2 million AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine doses to North Korea. The allocation is part of the initiative's first interim distribution forecast, in which it plans to send more than 330 million vaccine doses to countries most in need. 
  • Vaccines direct to your local pharmacy in the US: The Biden administration announced Tuesday that vaccine manufacturers can now ship vials directly to pharmacies starting Feb. 11, including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. The White House said that 1 million doses will be distributed to 6,500 stores. The plan to expand vaccine availability in pharmacies has long been in the works and was a key component in the former Trump administration's distribution plan as well.
  • Canada's vaccine challenges: Facing massive shortages, a Montreal facility will tentatively begin producing the Novavax vaccine candidate by the end of 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed at a news conference. Approval is not expected for several more weeks. Trudeau said it was important for Canada to be “self-sufficient” in their vaccine rollout.
  • Switzerland delays approval for one vaccine: The Oxford-developed candidate can significantly reduce the transmission of Covid, according to UK researchers. This is promising news for AstraZeneca, which has submitted its formula to the FDA for the final Phase 3 trials. However, Switzerland declined to authorize the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying "additional data from new studies are needed."
7:52 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Biden tells House Democrats to "stick together" in Covid-19 relief push

From CNN's Manu Raju

President Joe Biden told House Democrats on a conference call Wednesday he is open to narrowing the distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks in his Covid-19 relief proposal to focus on poor and middle-class people, according to audio of the call obtained by CNN

"I think we can better target the number," he said, according to the recording.

In the call, Biden also warned his party about the dangers of engaging in intraparty battles, contending their strength is in their unity with narrow majorities in both the House and the Senate.

"We hold a small majority in the House, and the barest majorities in the Senate, and we're gonna succeed or fail together," Biden said. "There have been three Democratic presidents in 28 years. Each one faced a tough midterm loss that cost a lot. It happened in '94 and it happened in 2010. We don't want to let that happen here. So, let's stick together."

Stimulus checks: Biden made clear he wasn't willing to dramatically drop the $1.9 trillion price tag for his plan, but also said he's willing to make the stimulus checks more narrowly targeted. Biden told House Democrats the additional $1,400 stimulus checks are a key component of the White House package, saying of the checks "people need it and frankly, they've been promised it."

"I think we can better target the number, I'm OK with that," Biden said of the distribution of stimulus checks. "But ... I'm not gonna start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people."

Read more:

8:11 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

AstraZeneca vaccine appears to substantially reduce coronavirus transmission, study shows

From CNN's Michael Nedelman and Laura Smith-Spark

The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine appears to substantially reduce transmission of the virus, rather than simply preventing symptomatic infections, UK researchers have suggested.

The rate of positive PCR tests declined by about half after two doses, according to preliminary results by researchers at the University of Oxford that have yet to be peer reviewed.

Their analysis, released as a preprint Tuesday, also supports spacing out doses and estimates good efficacy after just one shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The study did not measure transmission directly -- for example, by tracing contacts who were infected by study volunteers. But the researchers did collect regular nasal swabs from some participants and found that the rate of positive PCR tests fell by half after two doses of the vaccine. After one dose only, the rate of positive tests fell by 67%.

"While transmission studies per se were not included in the analysis, swabs were obtained from volunteers every week in the UK study, regardless of symptoms, to allow assessment of the overall impact of the vaccine on risk of infection and thus a surrogate for potential onward transmission," the authors write.

If the vaccine were simply making infections milder, PCR positivity would not change, the authors argued in the preprint analysis. "A measure of overall PCR positivity is appropriate to assess whether there is a reduction in the burden of infection."

Read the full story: