February 7 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Brad Lendon, Amy Woodyatt, Melissa Mahtani and Michael Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:55 PM ET, Sun February 7, 2021
21 Posts
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11:47 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

There may not be enough time to study the efficacy of receiving one Covid vaccine dose, Dr. Fauci says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a news conference at the White House on January 21.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a news conference at the White House on January 21. Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there may not be enough time to study the efficacy of receiving one vaccine dose and people should stick to the available data. 

Some experts have supported the idea of delaying second doses of Covid-19 vaccines in order to get as many people as possible vaccinated with at least a first dose.  

Speaking to NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday, Fauci said: “From a theoretical standpoint, it would be nice to know if you just get one dose, how long the durability lasts and what is the level of effect... But, what we have right now and what we must go with is the scientific data that we’ve accumulated and it’s really very solid.” 

The current data say people should get a booster dose 21 days after their first Pfizer shot and 28 days after the first Moderna shot. 

“You can do both. You can get as many people in their first dose, at the same time as adhering within reason to the timetable of the second dose,” Fauci said. “So it would be great to have the study, but I don’t think we could do it in time.” 

10:28 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

Bernie Sanders defends $15 minimum wage, says it's "not a radical idea"

Sen. Bernie Sanders on February 7.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on February 7. CNN

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, defended Democrats' push to pass a $15 minimum wage telling CNN's Jake Tapper that it isn't a radical idea.

"A $15 an hour minimum wage is not a radical idea. Making $600 a week in the United States of America, given the high costs of rent and other living expenses people have to pay, that's not a lot of money," Sanders said on CNN's State of the Union.

"In America, people should not be working 40 or 50 hours a week and living in poverty. We've got to raise that minimum wage which, Jake, has not been raised, unbelievably, since 2007," he added.

In an excerpt of an interview released Friday, President Biden conceded that he does not believe he will be able to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour through his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal.

"I put it in, but I don't think it's going to survive," Biden told "CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell." The interview with CBS is his first for network television since taking office and the full interview will air on Sunday.

The President, who campaigned on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, said he was prepared "on a separate negotiation on minimum wage, to work my way up."

Addressing Biden's comments, Sanders told Tapper he hoped the President "is wrong," adding that he has a roomful of lawyers working as hard as they can to make the case for raising the minimum wage to lawmakers.

Sanders also addressed criticism that stimulus checks need to be more targeted, saying:

"What we need to do is have a strong cliff so it doesn't kind of spill over to people making $300,000. And that's what I support and that's what I think most people understand. But to say to a worker in Vermont or California or anyplace else that if you're making $52,000 a year, you are too rich to get this help, the full benefit, I think that that's absurd, and it's also, from a political point of view, a little bit of absurd that you would have, under Trump, these folks getting the benefit, but under Biden, who is fighting hard for the working class of this country, they would not get that full benefit." 

Watch:

10:16 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

US transportation secretary defends Covid relief bill

From CNN's Allie Malloy

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at Union Station in Washington, DC, on February 5.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at Union Station in Washington, DC, on February 5. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg discussed the Covid relief bill on ABC’s This Week and defended it against criticism that it's “too big”, telling George Stephanopoulos that the greatest risk is “doing too little.”

Buttigieg would not get into negotiations on whether the administration would lower the income amount required to qualify for a stimulus check, saying “I think it’s really important that we’re taking care of working families. That’s obviously something that’s being discussed going back and forth with Congress and there needs to be robust support.”

When asked about criticism from both Republicans and moderate Democrats on the size of the package, including former Obama adviser Larry Summers, Buttigieg pointed to support from economic advisers from the last four administrations and said the administration has the ability to do “many things at once.” 

Buttigieg was also asked specifically whether it was a mistake not to include the airline payroll protection extension next month as airlines warn of massive furloughs. He said he's been speaking with airlines and if that relief is not in the final stimulus bill, it will be looked at outside of the bill.

Buttigieg also stressed the need for a bipartisan effort on infrastructure saying it is “a classic example of the kind of investment that will pay for itself” arguing that the country “can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

10:19 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

US Treasury Secretary suggests full employment could return next year if Biden's Covid relief bill is passed

From CNN's Jasmine Wright 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on February 7.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on February 7. CNN

In her first interview on CNN since her confirmation, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the benefits of the Biden administration's Covid-19 relief bill would outweigh the risks — adding that if the bill did pass, the US could get back to full employment next year.

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper for a timeline, Yellen said, “Well I would expect that if this package is passed that we’d go back to full employment next year.”

Yellen also responded to criticism from Larry Summers, a former Obama official, that this bill could create more inflation in the country, saying that’s something the administration can manage. 

“My predecessor, you know, has indicated that there's a chance that this will cause inflation to rise. And that's also a risk that we have to consider,” she said. Yellen said she’s spent many years studying inflation and that the country has the tools to deal with it if “that risk materializes.”

“The economic challenge and tremendous suffering in the country, we’ve got to address that, that’s the biggest risk,” she added.

On the money she’s made giving speeches — some at the hedge funds that bailed out some Gamestop short stock sellers — Yellen said she will abide by her own ethics agreement. 

“Well, I have an agreement that I signed, carefully considered whether or not there could be conflicts of interests. I will religious adhere to that agreement,” she said, adding that she has and will continue to consult with ethics lawyers at the Treasury Department every step of the way.

The Treasury Secretary would not outright answer a question from Tapper on whether Biden is prepared to sign a bill that has no bipartisan support, but she did make a case against lowering who qualifies for the direct payments too low, saying both she and Biden believe middle class families deserve help.

“But if you think about an elementary school teacher or policeman making $60,000 a year and faced with children who are out of school and people who may have had to withdraw from the labor force in order to take care of them and many extra burdens, he thinks, and I certainly agree, that it's appropriate for people there to get support,” she said. “So, the exact details of how it should be targeted are to be determined, but struggling middle class families need help, too.”

And on equal pay, Yellen said she hopes after she’s done, women will be paid equally for equal work.

Watch:

9:17 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

France starts distributing AstraZeneca vaccine amid warning UK variant could dominate by March

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

A health worker is administered a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Édouard Herriot hospital in Lyon, France, on February 6.
A health worker is administered a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Édouard Herriot hospital in Lyon, France, on February 6. Olivier Chassignole/Pool/AP

France started distributing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday as epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet warned the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 — first identified in the UK – could be dominant in the country by March.

In an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche published Sunday, Fontanet, who is also a member of the Scientific Council advising the French government on the pandemic, said: “Between 7-8 January, [the B.1.1.7 Variant] accounted for 3.3% of new contaminations; on January 27, it was 14% according to preliminary results from the second flash study.”

“This progression confirms it is 50 to 60% more transmissible than the 2020 virus. If we continue on this trajectory, with a R number of 1.5 for the English variant, we’ll reach 30-35% by mid-February and the number of hospital admissions will be around 2,000 a day. This variant will become dominant around March 1st,” he added.

The warning comes after an announcement by the French Ministry of Health on Saturday that the first shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been delivered to healthcare professionals. In a statement, the Ministry said the first doses will be given to healthcare staff under the age of 65.

The first shipment concerns 273,600 doses, the statement read. A second shipment of 304,800 doses will take place “next week.”

The statement also said the country had administered two million vaccines so far. According to the latest update from the country's health agency Santé Publique France, 1,843,763 people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Friday.

France has so far authorized the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for use against Covid-19.

8:15 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

No plans for a Covid-19 vaccine passport in the UK, minister says

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau

Nadhim Zahawi, the UK's Covid-19 vaccine deployment minister, rejected the idea of introducing a vaccine passport.
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK's Covid-19 vaccine deployment minister, rejected the idea of introducing a vaccine passport. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

The United Kingdom will not introduce Covid-19 vaccine passports, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday.

However, he said people could seek proof of vaccination from their doctor if needed for travel to other countries.

“We have, as of yesterday given the first dose to 11.5 million people, and what they get is a card from the NHS with their name on it, and the day they've been vaccinated with the first dose and then the date for their second dose,” Zahawi told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge.

The vaccine deployment minister rejected the idea of introducing a vaccine passport: “One, we don't know the impact of the vaccines on transmission. Two, it would be discriminatory,” he said. “I think the right thing to do is to make sure that people come forward to be vaccinated, because they want to, rather than it being made in some way mandatory through a passport or others,” Zahawi added.

Here's some background: Some destinations – including the Seychelles, Cyprus and Romania – have already lifted quarantine requirements to visitors able to prove they're vaccinated. Others, such as Iceland and Hungary, have opened up to people who've recovered from Covid-19.

“If other countries, obviously, require some form of proof, then you can ask your GP because your GP will hold the record. And of course, that will then be able to be used as your proof that you've had the vaccine. But we are not planning to have a passport in the UK,” the vaccine minister said.

Zahawi acknowledged that a number of startups working on apps related to the area had received funding from public agencies UK Research and Innovation and Innovate UK, but that the government was “certainly not looking to introduce it as part of the vaccine deployment program.”

7:16 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

New vaccine to tackle variant first identified in South Africa available "in the autumn," says Oxford lead researcher

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

A member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service prepares a dose of an AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center in Hampshire, southern England, on February 4.
A member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service prepares a dose of an AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center in Hampshire, southern England, on February 4. Andrew Matthews/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

A new version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to tackle the variant first identified in South Africa “will be available for the autumn,” professor of vaccinology at Oxford University Sarah Gilbert said on Sunday.

“It looks very much like [the new vaccine] will be available for the autumn. We’re already working on the first part of the manufacturing process in Oxford, that will be passed on to other members of the manufacturing supply chain as we go through the Spring, and it looks very much like that we can have a new version ready to use in the autumn,” Gilbert told the BBC.

Here's some background: On Saturday, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca told CNN that the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine currently being administered provides limited protection against mild disease in cases caused by the variant first identified in South Africa.

The Financial Times first reported Saturday that a study releasing Monday showed the vaccine does not appear to provide protection against mild and moderate disease caused by the virus variant. CNN has not obtained a copy of the study.

New vaccine not quite ready: Gilbert said the new version of the current Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “was in the works” but “not quite ready to vaccinate people yet.”

“This year we expect to show that the new version of the vaccine will generate antibodies that recognize the new variant. And then it will be very much like working on flu vaccines, so people will be familiar with the idea that we have to have new components, new strains in the flu vaccine every year to keep up with the new strains that are circulating (…),” she added.
6:50 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

Britain is under lockdown. But one year into the Covid crisis, many are unable to keep to the rules

From CNN's Zamira Rahim in London

Anna says she did not want to break the UK's Covid-19 lockdown rules. The 37-year-old has worked through the pandemic. Anna says she cleans an office building in London which is open but nearly empty, as most staff are working from home.

It's a job the Ecuadorean native has done for five years, after moving to the UK from Spain in 2013 while looking for work. CNN is not disclosing Anna's real name as she fears repercussions from her employer.

Anna's employer insisted that she continue to clean the building during the pandemic but cut her hours from five a day to four. She earns £10.75 ($14.77) per hour.

"I have been forced to go to work in a nonessential building," she told CNN. "There is no one at work, I'm alone."

Last month Anna caught Covid-19. She's unsure where she picked it up from but said it was likely "on the bus or on the Underground."

I had a lot of coughs, fever, fatigue... and dizziness," she said. "And I [am taking a long time to recover] because this disease is very painful [and] horrible."

But after staying home for a few days as she recovered from the disease, Anna decided to go into work, as she was only receiving partial pay.

UK government rules state that while recovering from Covid-19, patients should self-isolate for at least 10 full days.

"I only felt tired and [had] a headache," she said. "That is why I went to work -- I also couldn't afford to stay at home because I received very little salary.

I feel guilty that I went to work and infected more people, [but] I had no other option."

Breaches of self-isolation rules are rampant across the UK. Up to 20,000 people a day are failing to stay home when instructed to, according to Dido Harding, who is in charge of the country's coronavirus Test and Trace scheme.

For the British government, the lack of compliance is a significant worry.

Read the full story here:

5:49 a.m. ET, February 7, 2021

"There will be other Super Bowls." US officials warn against gatherings for Sunday's game to avoid Covid-19 spread

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

An aerial view of Raymond James Stadium is seen ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, on January 31.
An aerial view of Raymond James Stadium is seen ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, on January 31. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While Covid-19 numbers are trending in the right direction across much of the US, officials nationwide warned against Super Bowl gatherings to avoid another surge of infections.

"While the instinct may be to celebrate together, we cannot get cocky," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. "We must continue doing the things we know are effective at taming the virus: wear a mask, adhere to social distancing, and avoid gatherings.

"We can beat this thing, but we must stay smart," he added.

No time to relax: The warnings came from all corners of the country ahead of the big game Sunday, with local and state leaders reminding Americans that despite the hopeful signs in declining numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, now is not the time to let their guards down.

That's because experts have made clear that the US is still not out of the woods. Thousands of Americans continue to lose their lives to the virus every single day. And the detection of several Covid-19 variants now poses new challenges.

"When people get together in private residences in close proximity, that is one of the single most effective ways to spread this disease," Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said last week.

We can't afford to have the disease spread now, with these mutations and these variants."

Read the full story here.