Live Updates

February 7 coronavirus news

More Covid-19 vaccination sites opening across the US
02:44

What you need to know

  • US states aim to help vulnerable communities as vaccine distribution ramps up. The nation averaged 1.3 million new shots a day over the past week.
  • Officials are pleading with people to avoid Super Bowl parties on Sunday, to cut chances for the virus to spread.
  • AstraZeneca says its Covid-19 vaccine shows limited protection against the variant first identified in South Africa, and a new version of its vaccine to tackle this will be available in autumn.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has ended for the day.

33 Posts

Covid-19 has infected nearly 27 million people in the US

Site tester Pamela Deemie administers a Covid-19 test at Echo Park Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Parker, Colorado.

Covid-19 has killed at least 462,992 people and infected 26,974,579 in the US, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

On a per capita basis, North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island have reported the most cases while New Jersey and New York are leading the country in deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.  

Read more here about how Covid-19 is being tracked as it spreads in the US.

Covid-19 mitigation measures, not teacher vaccinations, are a must for safe school reopening, experts say

Stools are stacked on desks inside an empty classroom at Collins Elementary School in Pinole, California, on December 30, 2020.

As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release guidelines this week on how to open schools safely during the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Scott Gottlieb said it’s important to vaccinate teachers, but not a prerequisite to open schools. Mitigation measures, however, are a must, they said.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that reopening schools safely is,

Getting K-8 schools open in the next 100 days is a priority of the Biden administration, Fauci said, but “they’re going to need some help” so that schools can have “the capability with masks, with the ability to get better ventilation, all the things you want to do.”

“It would be great to get all the teachers vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can,” Fauci said, explaining why teachers are among the essential worker group prioritized to receive vaccines.

Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday that when it comes to opening schools, “I think the prerequisite is putting in place mitigation steps in the schools.” 

Gottlieb noted research that showed that when people wore masks, stayed distanced and took precautions, “there’s very little transmission within the classroom, the schools are not a vector of transmission.” Gottlieb said that this was especially the case with children under the age of 14, who were less likely to get infected and transmit infection. 

Gottlieb added that while it would be good to prioritize teachers for vaccination, “I don’t think it’s necessarily a prerequisite. I think schools have demonstrated that they can open safely if they’ve taken precautions in the classroom.” 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week that the agency would soon release guidance on school reopenings, and had noted that teacher vaccination “is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”

More contagious Covid-19 variant identified in UK is spreading rapidly throughout the US, study says

A new study finds that cases of a more contagious coronavirus variant are rapidly increasing in the United States, and significant community transmission may already be occurring. 

Although the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK is currently at a relatively low frequency in the United States, the paper says it’s doubling every week and a half, similar to what was observed in other countries. The report estimates this variant is 35% to 45% more transmissible than strains that appeared earlier in the United States.

Last month, CDC modeling predicted the B.1.1.7 variant could become the predominant strain in the United States by March. It estimates the virus is about 50% more transmissible.

“Our study shows that the U.S. is on a similar trajectory as other countries where B.1.1.7 rapidly became the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant, requiring immediate and decisive action to minimize COVID-19 morbidity and mortality,” researchers wrote in the preprint, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published. 

The new study, posted Sunday on the preprint server MedRxiv, is a collaboration of researchers from several institutions and the company Helix, which is one of several labs that shares information on variants with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to groups of cases in California, Florida and Georgia, many B.1.1.7 cases in the United States did not report recent international travel, the report said, suggesting “significant community transmission of the B.1.1.7 variant is already ongoing across the U.S.”

US labs are still sequencing only a small subset of coronavirus samples, the papers said, so it’s not clear what variants are circulating in the United States. Without “decisive and immediate public health action,” new, more transmissible variants “will likely have devastating consequences to COVID-19 mortality and morbidity in the U.S. in a few months,” the researchers warn.

Some more context: More than 610 cases of this variant have been found in 33 states, according to the CDC. Most are in Florida and California. The first US case was announced Dec. 29, but the earliest known cases stretch back earlier. Analysis in the new study suggests the B.1.1.7 variant arrived in the United States as early as late November 2020.

The strain has also been found in at least 80 countries and territories around the globe, the World Health Organization said last week. 

Biden supports $15 minimum wage and efforts to keep it in Covid relief bill, senior adviser says

President Joe Biden in Washington, DC, on February 4.

Senior adviser to the President Cedric Richmond said the administration still supports $15 dollar minimum wage and that it backs Sen. Bernie Sanders efforts to keep that in the $1.9 trillion dollar Covid-19 relief plan Biden has proposed. 

Richmond’s remarks come days after President Biden conceded that he does not believe he will be able to raise the minimum wage as a part of the American Rescue Plan due to the Senate’s rules. 

Richmond said that statement from Biden “was merely his prediction of what he thought the Senate would do,” but said they still hope they can get the minimum wage increase into the relief package. 

“Senator Sanders has assembled a team to make a very compelling argument that it should stay in the bill under the Senate rules. All of that gets into the minutia of whether it impacts the budget or not. Senator Sanders and his lawyers articulate that it does and so I think you’re going to see a fight in the Senate about whether the minimum wage stays in at $15 an hour in incremental progression up to that,” Richmond said in an interview on MSNBC on Sunday. 

Richmond said Biden has been clear, as a candidate and as President, that he wants the minimum wage to be increased to $15 dollars an hour.

Richmond also defended the administration’s call for $1,400 dollar direct payments to Americans, as some Democrats are now saying the checks should be increased. Richmond said President Biden “will not leave the middle class behind in this pandemic.” There has been talk of making the stimulus checks more targeted to the Americans who need them most in order to increase Republican support of the package, however the administration has been sticking by the $1,400 number. 

Discussing GOP support of the administration’s relief plan, Richmond criticized the $600 billion dollar proposal from 10 GOP Senators as too small and lacking important funding for veterans and state and local governments.

“So the question becomes, you know, is it a good-faith bargaining position and we come with good faith saying we want to do a bipartisan process, but we cannot afford to do too little too late,” he said. “So we do want a bipartisan deal. But, again, we won’t do too little too late and we won’t leave the American people stranded without government helping.”

AstraZeneca vaccine offers “minimal protection” against mild infection of South Africa variant, study says

Early data suggest two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine provide “minimal protection” against mild and moderate infection from the variant first identified in South Africa, the University of Oxford said Sunday. 

Viral neutralization against the B.1.351 variant was “substantially reduced” when compared to the earlier coronavirus strain, according to a news release Sunday from the University of Oxford. The study, which has not been released, included about 2,000 volunteers who were an average of 31 years old; about half received the vaccine and half received a placebo, which does nothing. The vaccine’s efficacy against severe Covid-19, hospitalization and death were not assessed.

Details of the study by researchers from South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand and others and the University of Oxford were shared in a press release. The results have been submitted for peer-review and a preprint will be released soon, Oxford said. 

After the study was reported Saturday by the Financial Times, AstraZeneca said in a statement it believes the vaccine could provide protection against severe disease, and said it has started to adapt the vaccine against the variant “so that it is ready for Autumn delivery should it be needed.”

“Efforts are underway to develop a new generation of vaccines that will allow protection to be redirected to emerging variants as booster jabs, if it turns out that it is necessary to do so,” Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said in Sunday’s statement, noting that this issue faces all vaccine developers. “We are working with AstraZeneca to optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary.”

In the Oxford statement, Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccinology at University of Witwatersrand who led the study, noted recent data in South Africa from Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine arm, found some protection against moderate and severe Covid-19 disease with a similar vaccine. 

“These findings recalibrate thinking about how to approach the pandemic virus and shift the focus from the goal of herd immunity against transmission to the protection of all at risk individuals in population against severe disease,” Madhi said. 

San Francisco public schools and unions reach tentative agreement on school reopening, unions say

The unions representing workers at the San Francisco Unified School District announced they have reached a tentative agreement with the school district to reopen schools for in-person learning amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a news release Sunday, the unions said the tentative agreement “outlines the baseline health and safety standards and vaccine access to physically reopen public schools.”

The agreement would allow teachers and workers to return to school in the red tier of California’s reopening criteria if Covid-19 vaccines are made available, according to the release. Return to in-person instruction can happen without vaccine availability in the orange tier. 

The district would also provide personal protective equipment for students and staff, socially distanced classrooms and workspaces, and regular testing, among other safety protocols.

“This is a major step forward toward a goal that we share with so many parents: safe reopening of school buildings for students and staff,” the unions say in the release.

San Francisco filed a lawsuit against its own school district Wednesday to get schools to physically open, CNN previously reported.

CNN has reached out to San Francisco Unified School District and the Mayor’s Office for comment.

Major snowstorm forces Netherlands to close Covid-19 vaccination centers

People travel in the snow on February 7 in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

The Dutch regional health agencies (GGD) said they closed all Covid-19 test sites and vaccination locations on Sunday, after the country’s national meteorological institute (KNMI) declared a rare “Code Red” warning for the whole territory.

“If you have an appointment for a test or vaccination on Sunday, do not come to the location,” a statement from GGD read, adding that 20,000 people with a testing appointment and 20,000 others with a vaccination appointment would be informed by telephone about the situation.

Called “Storm Darcy” by Dutch media, the first major snowstorm to hit the country in 10 years has disrupted rail and road traffic, according to reports from the country’s Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management. National train operator NS said in a statement that no trains would run on Sunday due to “adverse weather conditions.”

Democrats will introduce $3,000 per child benefit Monday as part of stimulus package

Rep. Richard Neal speaks at a press conference in Washington, DC, on July 24, 2020.

House Democratic leaders will unveil legislation Monday that would give families at least $3,000 per child, advancing a key provision in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package.

Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Rep. Richard Neal is leading the crafting of the legislation for the stimulus package and will introduce the enhanced Child Tax Credit bill tomorrow, according to a House Ways and Means Committee spokesperson.

“The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating. We are making the Child Tax Credit more generous, more accessible, and by paying it out monthly, this money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table,” Neal said in a statement provided to CNN.

The 22-page legislation would provide $3,600 per child under the age of six and $3,000 per child age six through 17 for a single year. The size of the benefit would phase out for single Americans earning more than $75,000 per year, as well as for couples jointly earning more than $150,000 per year.

Families would also be able to receive the Child Tax Credit payments on a monthly basis.

If this particular legislation is passed by Congress, the payments would begin in July for one year.

Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Suzan DelBene and Ritchie Torres are also set to introduce standalone legislation on Monday, known as the American Family Act, that would continue the benefit permanently.

Rep. DeLauro, who has been working on expanding the child tax credit since 2003, said in a statement to CNN:

“We cannot stop here. We must use this moment to pass the American Family Act and permanently expand and improve the child tax credit. One year is not enough for the children and families battling not just the coronavirus, but poverty, too.”

The Washington Post was the first to report details of the legislation and the fact that it would be unveiled Monday.

WHO Panel will meet Monday to discuss AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Vials of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in London on January 7.

The World Health Organization’s independent panel on vaccinations will meet on Monday to discuss the AstraZeneca vaccine and studies assessing how effective it is against the virus variant first identified in South Africa, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. 

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca told CNN on Saturday that a small trial found the company’s Covid-19 vaccine provides limited protection against mild disease in cases caused by the B.1.351 variant. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.

When asked if she was concerned about AstraZeneca’s vaccine and the variant, Van Kerkhove told CBS’s Margaret Brennan that there were a number of studies underway to look at immune responses. 

There are “some preliminary studies suggesting reduced efficacy. But again, those studies aren’t fully published yet,” Van Kerkhove said.

“Our independent panel group on vaccinations is meeting tomorrow to specifically discuss the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the results coming out of South Africa to determine what does this mean in terms of the vaccines going forward,” Van Kerkhove said. 

She added that it’s critical to have more than one safe and effective vaccine: “We cannot rely on only one product.”

76 health care workers are going to the Super Bowl on the New England Patriots' plane

The Patriots posted this photo on Sunday morning of the 76 Super Bowl-bound vaccinated health care workers.

76 vaccinated health care workers from New England are traveling to Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, on the Patriots team plane today.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft and New England Patriots Captain Matthew Slater participated in the sendoff Sunday morning.

“I’m thrilled to be back here today because today the Kraft family and the Patriots and the NFL are saying thank you to so many of our health care workers who have carried a tremendous burden of serving and taking care of and saving the lives of so many people during this pandemic,” Baker said.

He continued: “And honestly when you think about some of those great Patriots slogans, “Do your job,” “no days off,” there’s probably no group over the course of this pandemic who’s demonstrated that more day after day after day than our health care workers, and I’m thrilled to be here today, to be able to say thank you to all of them for what they’ve done and who they’ve represented, and how they’ve represented the Commonwealth, here in Massachusetts and taken care of so many people who struggle with COVID and their families.”

WHO official praises UK's approach of spacing out second vaccines doses 

The British approach on having a bigger gap between the first and second Covid-19 vaccine dose has been “vindicated,” World Health Organization Special Envoy David Nabarro said on Sunday.

Speaking on Sky News, Nabarro said:

“I think the UK’s approach, so far at least, has been vindicated. And yes, I think this is a great lesson for the rest of the world. Thank you, thank you British scientists.” 

“Isn’t it wonderful that it has turned out that, as a result of the UK’s bravery, frankly, that this extended interval seems to be associated with even greater protection? That’s how we’re doing Covid at the moment, we’re all learning together, different countries approaching it in different ways,” he added.  

The UK currently prioritizes the first dose of a vaccine, with a second dose up to 12 weeks later, a bigger gap than originally planned. 

Nabarro explained that the WHO’s advice on intervals between vaccine doses has been “based on what the manufacturers did during the what we call Phase 3 trials of the vaccine. Then the WHO and its committees really has to work on the basis of what manufacturers told them.”

“That committee is meeting pretty often at the moment because there’s a lot of vaccines coming onstream, and the committee has to look at vaccines and it will indeed look again at the doses as a result of the British experience,” he added.

The WHO currently recommends second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines should be delivered up to 4 weeks after the first, and up to six weeks later in “exceptional circumstances.” It is currently in the process of evaluating the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.

However, speaking earlier on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US 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. 

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 Fauci was referring to says people should get a booster dose 21 days after their first Pfizer shot and 28 days after the first Moderna shot. 

Covid-19 vaccine demand is greater than current supply, Dr. Fauci says 

Drivers wait in line at a Covid-19 vaccination site in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on January 27.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that the number of vaccines doses available is improving, but demand was always going to going to be greater than the early supply.

“The demand clearly outstrips the supply right now,” Fauci said when asked what’s holding up US vaccine supply. “If you look at the escalation of availability of doses purely on the ability and the capability of manufacturing that, it’s going to escalate and will continue to escalate as we go from February to March to April and beyond.” 

He said that even though there’s a “clear, clear discrepancy” between the demand and the supply, it will get better as the year progresses.

“But that is the limiting factor, Chuck,” Fauci said. “It’s the supply/demand issue.” 

Manufacturing began even before vaccines were authorized for use, but health officials warned for months that not everyone would be able to get vaccinated immediately. 

When Todd asked if the US should have expanded manufacturing months ago, Fauci said this situation was a bit inevitable. 

“We certainly, I guess, could have contracted a little bit more aggressively with the companies to get more doses,” he said. “But right now, this is what we have, these are the contractual arrangements, they’re coming off the line as quickly as we can.” 

In addition to more doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines coming available, Fauci said, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be available soon. The company submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for the vaccine y last week .

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

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, 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.” 

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

Sen. Bernie Sanders on February 7.

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:

03:54

US transportation secretary defends Covid relief bill

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

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.”

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

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on February 7.

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:

05:51

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

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

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.

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

Nadhim Zahawi, the UK's Covid-19 vaccine deployment minister, rejected the idea of introducing a vaccine passport.

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.”

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

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 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.

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

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.”

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.

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:

People walk past shops, temporarily closed down due to current coronavirus restrictions, in Leeds, northern England on January 6

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

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

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

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.

Read the full story here.

Analysis: Biden turns to skills that powered his 2020 victory to sell Covid-19 relief

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, DC, on February 5.

Nearly three weeks into office, US President Joe Biden is trying to do what he knows how to do best – connect with average Americans, letting them know he understands their suffering and offering words of comfort. But instead of doing so quietly on the campaign trail, he’s now using those skills to win a different kind of campaign – to sell his massive Covid-19 relief package to the American people.

In the first installment of a series of weekly addresses to the American people, released by the White House Saturday, Biden’s team filmed him calling Michele, a woman from Roseville, California, who lost her job because of the pandemic. He promised that his economic plan is intended to help restore the loss of dignity and purpose that she and so many others have felt over the past year.

Biden hasn’t made headway with his initial efforts to win bipartisan support for his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, so he is taking his case directly to the voters – connecting with Americans one at a time as he uses their stories to drive his policy agenda.

The clips of the conversation – which the White House framed as a modern-day version of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats – were brief, tightly edited and organized around Biden’s longstanding campaign theme that many Americans derive their dignity and self-worth from their jobs.

On the campaign trail last year and as Barack Obama’s running mate, Biden sought an emotional connection with voters by telling the story countless times of what he learned from his own father’s struggle to find steady work. He has often reflected on the isolation and self-doubt that can come from losing a job. As often, he has highlighted the lesson his father taught him – that success can also be measured by one’s resilience, getting back up after being knocked down.

Read the full analysis:

TOPSHOT - A painting of Abraham Lincoln is seen as US President Joe Biden speaks on Covid-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 26, 2021. - The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world on January 26 passed 100 million since the start of the pandemic, according to an AFP tally. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Analysis: Biden turns to skills that powered his 2020 victory to sell Covid-19 relief

Philadelphia health commissioner says it was a "mistake" to engage with embattled group in vaccine operations

Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley provides an update in Philadelphia on March 6.

More than a week after Philadelphia cut ties with a Covid-19 testing and vaccine provider, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley testified that it was a “mistake” to allow Philly Fighting Covid (PFC) to operate vaccine clinics.

“While this organization did successfully vaccinate some 6,900 people, in retrospect it was a mistake for the Department of Public Health to ask the organization to operate these clinics. As the person in charge of the Department of Public Health, I bear the ultimate responsibility for that mistake,” Farley said Friday in prepared remarks at a city council meeting.

The city severed its ties with PFC amid reports the non-profit shifted to a for-profit entity. There were also concerns over PFC’s patient data collection and protection practices.

PFC CEO Andrei Doroshin said shortly after the break with Philadelphia that he never hid the group’s intentions to transition to a for-profit business.

“Vaccinating large groups of people takes resources, manpower, and ultimately financial help…We have always intended on scaling up the number of clinics to eventually vaccinate more people (we have been working for months on plans to scale-up vaccinations and have shared them with the city) and money is needed to do that,” he said in a statement.

Read the full story:

Philadelphia Health commissioner Dr. Tom Farley speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Philadelphia Feb. 3. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia health commissioner says it was a 'mistake' to engage with embattled group in vaccine operations

US reports more than 102,000 new Covid-19 cases

The United States reported 102,420 new Covid-19 infections and 2,618 additional virus-related fatalities on Saturday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

That raises the national tally to at least 26,916,192 coronavirus cases and 462,173 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Vaccines: At least 59,304,600 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 39,037,964 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

See CNN’s live tracker here.

Disney World cancels Super Bowl Parade due to the pandemic

Super Bowl LIII winning quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots celebrates with Mickey Mouse in the Super Bowl victory parade in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on February 4, 2019.