February 9 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Christopher Johnson and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 6:29 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021
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8:30 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Covid-19 transmission is low in daycare centers that take the right precautions, study suggests

From CNN Health’s Christopher Rios

The first multicenter study to investigate the spread of Covid-19 in daycare centers suggests that preschool-age children are not superspreaders of Covid-19.

When the right public health measures are implemented, daycare centers are safe for both children and staff members, the researchers say. 

The study was published Monday in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal and conducted in the French cities of Paris, Rouen and Annecy between June 4 and July 3, 2020 — up to two months after France’s national lockdown. 

The researchers collected serology data on 327 children and 197 daycare staff across 22 daycare centers and a comparison group of 164 “hospital staff who kept working during the lockdown, were not occupationally exposed to infants, and were not directly exposed to patients with COVID-19,” according to the researchers. 

The study used data from rapid antibody tests and found the prevalence of antibodies for children at daycare centers was only 3.7%, well below the national rate of 10% found in adults in the same time period. 

The 14 children that were found to have antibodies came from 13 different centers, and the two children from the same center never had contact.

This suggests that with the right protocols in place, transmission between children is uncommon, the researchers say. 

At these daycare centers, face masks were worn by staff, enrollment and staffing were reduced, children who became symptomatic were excluded, staff conducted regular temperature checks and reinforced hand hygiene and everyone practiced physical distancing. 

Additionally, the researchers found that daycare staff were no more likely to contract Covid-19 than the general population.

Dr. Camille Aupiais, a pediatrician who contributed research to the study, said:

Our results suggest that daycare centers are not focus points of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection and that young children are not spreading the virus widely in these environments.
“These findings should be reassuring for parents and staff at daycare centers, especially given that the children included in the study have parents who are keyworkers and are thought to be at higher risk during the first wave of the epidemic.”

The researchers say one limitation to the study is that data was collected before the emergence of coronavirus variants that some experts suggest may be more transmissible in children. 

7:19 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

1 in 3 Covid-19 patients put on a ventilator experience "extensive” PTSD symptoms, UK research shows

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

A ventilator, left, is set up beside a hospital bed at the NHS Nightingale North East hospital on May 4, 2020, in Sunderland, England.
A ventilator, left, is set up beside a hospital bed at the NHS Nightingale North East hospital on May 4, 2020, in Sunderland, England. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

New research in the UK shows around 1 in 3 (35%) of Covid-19 patients put on a ventilator experience "extensive symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)" after treatment. 

The research, conducted in the UK by Imperial College London and the University of Southampton, also found that extensive symptoms of PTSD, such as "intrusive images" of the ICU environment, were also found in 18% of patients hospitalized without requiring a ventilator.

The results of the study were published Tuesday in the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists’ BJPsych Open journal.

The study was conducted in May 2020, when researchers surveyed symptoms of PTSD in over 13,000 British patients with experience of confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

The study also found:

  • Lower levels of extensive symptoms of PTSD for patients given medical help at home (16%) and patients who required no help at home but experienced breathing problems (11%).
  • The most common PTSD symptom experienced by Covid-19 patients was intrusive images, sometimes known as "flashbacks." For example, this could be intrusive images of the ICU environment, ICU doctors wearing full PPE or other patients in the ICU.

The authors highlight the importance of following-up with Covid-19 survivors after treatment and access to mental health treatment.

Dr. Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

Over 400,000 patients have been hospitalized from Covid in the UK and sadly there will be more to come. Many of those fortunate enough to survive their ordeal will experience a significant impact on their mental health.
“Effective and joined up follow-up care must be provided after discharge and mental health services must be adequately expanded to treat increasing numbers of people with PTSD symptoms."
7:34 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Vaccinations begin in Iran, with the health minister's son the first Iranian to receive the shot

Parsa Namaki, son of Iran's Health Minister Saeed Namaki, receives a Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday, February 9.
Parsa Namaki, son of Iran's Health Minister Saeed Namaki, receives a Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday, February 9. Vahid Salemi/AP

On Tuesday, Iran began its rollout of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, according to a live broadcast on state television.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said the top priority groups to receive the vaccination are doctors and nurses working at intensive care units across the country's hospitals.

The health minister's son, Parsa Namaki, was the first Iranian to receive a shot. Namaki, a science and engineering student at Sharif University, was identified on Iran's English-language service Press TV while getting the vaccine.

Iran received its first delivery of the Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia on February 4, according to Iran's state-run news agency IRNA.

The health minister said in addition to the Russian Sputnik vaccine, Iran has also bought some 16.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX to vaccinate 8.4 million people. 

Iran reported 7,640 new daily coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 1,481,396.

The new numbers were announced by Iran’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadaat Lari in a news conference on state TV.

The country also reported 89 new deaths from Covid-19 bringing the country's death toll to 58,625. The health ministry said 3,762 patients are hospitalized in ICU.

Iran is the Middle East country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in total cases and deaths.

6:54 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

WHO says an "intermediary host species" is most likely how Covid-19 was introduced to humans

From CNN's Chandler Thornton in Hong Kong

Peter Ben Embarek of the World Health Organization holds up a chart showing possible pathways of transmission of the coronavirus to humans, during a press conference in Wuhan, China, on February 9.
Peter Ben Embarek of the World Health Organization holds up a chart showing possible pathways of transmission of the coronavirus to humans, during a press conference in Wuhan, China, on February 9. Ng Han Guan/AP

World Health Organization expert Peter Ben Embarek said that the team investigating the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan have identified two scenarios that most likely caused the transmission of Covid-19 to the human population.

"Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one way that will require more studies and more specific targeted research," Embarek said during a press conference on Tuesday.

He added that the possibility of transmission through the trade of frozen products was also likely.

Embarek also noted two other hypotheses the team had probed while investigating the origin of the virus.

One hypothesis was a "direct zoonotic spillover," meaning, direct transmission from an animal reservoir to a human. 

"The hypothesis of a direct spillover from an original animal source into the human population is also a possible pathway and is also generating recommendation for future studies," he said.

The fourth hypothesis was the possibility of a laboratory-related incident, but that this was the least likely of the four to be the cause of the virus' introduction to humans.

"Findings suggest that the laboratory hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population," Embarek said.

6:57 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

WHO expert says first Covid-19 cases from Huanan seafood market were likely infected around early December or late November 2019

From CNN's Chandler Thornton in Hong Kong 

World Health Organization expert Peter Ben Embarek said the first Covid-19 cases from the Huanan seafood market outbreak were probably infected in early December 2019 or late November 2019.

"In terms of time and place, what we know is that some of the first cases that could be linked to the market were detected or had their onset of symptoms in the first two weeks of December -- that indicating that they were probably infected around the start of December or late November," Embarek said in a press conference following the WHO team's investigation in Wuhan on Tuesday.

"But we can't go into more details with the information we have looked at," Embarek added.

Embarek also said his team found evidence of wider circulation of Covid-19 outside of the Huanan seafood market outbreak in December 2019.

"It was not just only the cluster outbreak in Huanan market, but the virus was also circulated outside the market," he said.

Embarek added that the team's picture of the virus' origins prior to the investigation had not changed dramatically, but that they had gleaned more information.

"Did we change dramatically the picture we had beforehand? I don't think so. Did we add details? Absolutely," Embarek said.

7:24 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

China Health official says that experts failed to identify SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife in China 

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu

Liang Wannian speaks during a joint press conference with the World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday, February 9.
Liang Wannian speaks during a joint press conference with the World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday, February 9. Ng Han Guan/AP

Viruses genetically related to SARS-CoV-2 have not been identified in different animals including horseshoe bats and pangolins, and all animals tested in Wuhan tested negative for the virus, China's leading health official said Tuesday.

At a joint World Health Organization-China press conference in Wuhan on Tuesday, Liang Wannian, Head of Expert Panel of COVID-19 Response of China National Health Commission (NHC) said that the studies and research have "failed to identify evidence of SARS-CoV-2 related viruses in samples of wildlife in Wuhan and different places in China."

"All animals were negative," Liang said of the animals tested in Wuhan.

Liang said that sampling from the Huanan seafood market indicated that there was "widespread contamination of surfaces" with SARS-CoV-2 at the point that it closed.

He said that the finding was "compatible with the introduction of the virus from infected people or related cold chain products, animals and animal products" and that research into related cold chain products needed further research. 

"According to this research, all of the samples related to animal products or animals were all negative. For the cold chain products and relevant testing, the research is at the ongoing stage," Liang said.

He explained that the virus can "persist in conditions found in frozen food, packaging and cold chain products," and that "recent outbreaks in China have been linked to the cold chain."

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated Liang’s findings on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in animals.

6:03 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Chief Investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial says the South Africa study not surprising

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, receives the AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, on January 4.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, receives the AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, on January 4. Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The results of the South African study, which suggest the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers reduced protection from the Covid-19 variant first identified there, are in many ways “exactly what we would have expected," Chief Investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial Professor Andrew Pollard said Tuesday.

I think that is perhaps the clue to the future here: That we are going to see new variants arise and they will spread in the population -- like most of the viruses that cause colds every winter -- but as long as we have enough immunity to prevent the severe disease, hospitalizations and death then we are going to be fine in the future in the pandemic,” Pollard told BBC Radio 4.  

Early data released Sunday suggest two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine provided only "minimal protection" against mild and moderate Covid-19 from the variant first identified in South Africa. The full 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.

Pollard said the study in South Africa “absolutely confirms what we know about the biology of the virus, it has to transmit between people to survive and it has to mutate to do that and it's done that in South Africa already and that will affect mild disease in people that have been vaccinated."

"The really important point though is that all vaccines - everywhere in the world where they've been tested - are still preventing severe disease and death,” Pollard stressed.

He said the "jury is out" on whether the world needs need new vaccines to counter variants, but that developers are preparing them in case we do.

South African health officials said Sunday they have paused the start of a mass rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to gather data on hospitalization rates and to see how effective the vaccine is in preventing severe disease in people infected with the South African variant.

Pollard said the South African government has "correctly" rethought how it will deploy the vaccine after originally aiming it first at health care workers.

He also highlighted that the South Africa study was a small study that looked at young adults who only get mild infections.

What we anticipated in that setting is the virus would still be able to cause infections that are very mild and that's exactly what we've seen in that study,” Pollard said.

“We are the only people so far who have a study that looks at that variant in a population of young people and it’s telling us about the future of this virus -- that it will find ways to transmit and cause mild infections, colds and so on, in the population,” Pollard said. 

"The really important question is about severe infection and we didn't study that in South Africa because that wasn't the point of the study," he added, noting that "we were specifically asking questions about young adults."

Commenting on the scrutiny the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has received, Pollard said that "it's a bit perplexing to find ourselves in the middle of political debate... we've made a huge effort here at the University of Oxford to be transparent in everything that we do.”

6:49 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

"No substantial circulation of Covid in Wuhan before the late 2019 outbreak," Chinese health official says

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu

A WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference is held at the end of a WHO mission to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday, February 9.
A WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference is held at the end of a WHO mission to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday, February 9. Ng Han Guan/AP

WHO's international team of experts investigating the origins of Covid-19 have concluded their four-week mission to Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

They presented a summary of their findings during a joint press conference with Chinese authorities at a hotel in Wuhan on Tuesday, prior to their departure from China.

Liang Wannian, Head of the Expert Panel of COVID-19 Response of China National Health Commission (NHC) said at the "WHO-China Joint Study" press conference that "the findings indicated that there was no substantial unrecognized circulation of #SARScov2 in Wuhan during the latter part of 2019."

He said that the "first part," or the "Chinese part" of the global tracing research has been completed. 

The international team visited the Huanan seafood market that was linked to early case clusters and the hospital where the first cases were detected. 

They visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology and probed data provided by Chinese authorities from Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control.

The field visits concluded on February 6, and the team have been poring over data with Chinese counterparts.

WHO investigators spent fourteen days in quarantine collaborating with Chinese scientists, reviewing data on Zoom calls and conducted field visits in Wuhan to understand more about the origins of the Covid-19 virus.

The WHO team members are expected to depart from China on Tuesday and Wednesday.

4:22 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

40 hospitals across Washington state may have received counterfeit N95 masks, officials say

From CNN's Deanna Hackney and Amir Vera

Hospitals across Washington state thought they were receiving authentic N95 masks -- but it turns out that hundreds of thousands may be counterfeit, officials say.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a fraud alert Friday to the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), stating that 40 hospitals across the state may have received fake masks as part of a shipment of 2 million masks that arrived in December.

The hospital association alerted the 40 hospitals, but many of the masks had already been used, WSHA President and CEO Cassie Sauer told CNN Monday.

"They look and feel and fit and smell just like a 3M Mask," Sauer said.

The masks were purchased by hospitals and by WSHA to distribute to its members, according to the association. More than $1 million was spent on the purchase.

N95 masks are considered the gold standard in personal protective equipment because they block 95% of large and small particles utilizing a unique electrostatic filter.

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