February 10 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Christopher Johnson and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 6:34 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021
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11:58 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Double masking can block over 92% of potentially infectious particles from escaping, CDC study says

From CNN Health’s Keri Enriquez

A man wears two masks as he visits Times Square in New York on December 10.
A man wears two masks as he visits Times Square in New York on December 10. Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that double masking -- using a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, like a disposable blue surgical mask -- can significantly improve protection from Covid-19. 

Researchers found that the combination of the two masks can block 92.5% of potentially infectious particles from escaping by creating a tighter fit around the face.

They also found that overall performance of medical procedure masks alone can be improved by folding mask edges inward and knotting ear loop strings where they meet mask fabric to reduce gaps.

A knotted medical mask can block 63% of aerosols that may contain coronavirus, a significant improvement from blocking only 42% of particles when unknotted. The findings were published Wednesday in the CDC’S Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Beginning in January 2021, the CDC tested the double masking and knotting methods to evaluate mask performance protection. Researchers found the effectiveness of cloth and medical procedure masks can be improved by ensuring they are well fitted to the contours of the face to prevent air and particles from escaping from gaps around the mask’s edges.

The study found that when both a source of infection and uninfected source were both fitted with double masks, the uninfected person’s exposure to potentially infectious particles was reduced by 96.4%.

When both people wore knotted and tucked masks alone, the uninfected person’s cumulative exposure to potentially infectious particles was reduced by 95.9%.

Both findings highlight the importance of a good fit to maximize mask performance to reduce exposure.

“This observation suggests that amendments to improve fit might result in equivalent improvements, regardless of the masks baseline filtration efficiency,” the researchers wrote. 

It is unclear how or if the CDC will incorporate these new findings into its mask recommendations.

The CDC team used a medical procedure mask, like blue surgical masks, and a three-layered cloth mask for a total of twelve different mask combinations. They performed tests using various combinations of no mask, double masks, and unknotted or knotted and tucked medical procedure masks.

When studying ‘double masking’ these experiments utilized one cloth over one medical mask. The researchers did not include any other combinations of masks, such as cloth over cloth, medical procedure mask over medical procedure mask, or medical procedure mask over cloth.

The study also did not provide any guidance on mask fitting. 

“The data in this report underscore the finding that good fit can increase filtration efficiency. Multiple simple ways to achieve better fit have been demonstrated to be effective,” the analysis reads.  

“Until vaccine-induced population immunity is achieved, universal masking is a highly effective means to slow the spread," it added.

11:27 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

CDC issues recommendations for the safest way to celebrate Valentine's Day during the pandemic

From CNN Health’s Ashley Ahn

Pike Place Flowers in Seattle on February 9. Workers at the shop are preparing for Valentine's Day.
Pike Place Flowers in Seattle on February 9. Workers at the shop are preparing for Valentine's Day. Ted S. Warren/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released recommendations Monday for the safest way to celebrate Valentine’s Day during the pandemic, suggesting people gather virtually unless they live together. 

The agency advised Americans to drop off Valentine cards or decorations. Activities for Valentines to do together included taking a walk, preparing a special meal or dessert, planning a special movie or game night and having a picnic outside.

The CDC said celebrating outdoors is safer than indoors if a person is meeting someone who does not live with them. 

1:06 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

71% of Americans are now willing to get Covid-19 vaccines, Gallup poll finds

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

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

Seventy-one percent of Americans are now willing to get Covid-19 vaccines, up from 65% in late December and the highest number on record since July, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Of those unwilling to get a vaccine:

  • 25% said they were concerned about the rushed development of the vaccines
  • 22% said they want to wait and see that it's a safe for others
  • 16% said they did not trust vaccines in general
  • 9% said they wanted to see how effective it is

The number of both Republicans and Democrats willing to be vaccinated, 51% and 91% respectively, is the highest percentage for each group to date. Since late December, willingness is up six percentage points among Republicans and eight percentage points among Democrats.

The poll, which had a margin of error of ±2% pts., also found that two-thirds of Americans were not satisfied with how vaccination is going in the US -- including 21% who are “very dissatisfied.” Thirty-four percent of Americans are satisfied, including 4% who are “very satisfied.”

The poll was conducted January 25-31 and included a random sample of 4,098 Americans age 18 and over.

11:33 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Denmark registers over 1,600 case numbers of UK coronavirus variant

From CNN's James Frater and Sharon Braithwaite

Denmark is recording increasing case numbers of the UK coronavirus variant, the State Serum Institute (SSI) said Wednesday in a report.

The coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the UK on September 20, "has been found among 1,690 people in Denmark in the period from 14 November to 2 February," the SSI said.

In the first week of February, 27.1% of positive cases analyzed for their genetic material were carrying the B.1.1.7 variant, up from 20% the week before, according to the SSI.

"Based on these tests, the group now estimates the reproductive number for the virus variant B.1.1.7 to be 0.99," the SSI report said.

A reproduction rate (or R number) of 1 would mean each person with coronavirus will infect an average of one other person.

The SSI report added that coronavirus restrictions currently in place might have led to a decrease in the R number over the last week, however that development "must be interpreted with caution, as there may be variation over time, and it is too early to assess whether there is a stable trend."

12:03 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

WHO recommends use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as two-dose shot, 8 to 12 weeks apart

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

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

The World Health Organization on Wednesday released its interim recommendations for using the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in people 18 and older. The new guidance was developed based on advice issued by its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization.

WHO recommends the vaccine is administered eight to 12 weeks apart.

WHO's interim guidance states: "In light of the observation that two-dose efficacy and immunogenicity increase with a longer interdose interval, WHO recommends an interval of 8 to 12 weeks between the doses. If the second dose is inadvertently administered less than 4 weeks after the first, the dose does not need to be repeated. If administration of the second dose is inadvertently delayed beyond 12 weeks, it should be given at the earliest possible opportunity. It is recommended that all vaccinated individuals receive two doses."

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is administered as an intramuscular injection and has an efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic coronavirus infection, according to WHO's interim recommendations.

WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday that SAGE had already made recommendations on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and that in "in the coming weeks, you will see more recommendations coming out as we review the evidence from the different candidates."

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the time interval recommended by the WHO for doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

10:24 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

CNN's Omar Jimenez will answer your questions about schools and the Covid-19 pandemic

More schools across the US are returning to in-person learning as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the scene in Chicago, where teachers have voted to come back to classrooms. What questions about Covid-19 and schools do you have for him? 

11:09 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Dallas-Ft. Worth area drive-thru Covid-19 vaccines cancelled Thursday amid potentially icy conditions

From CNN’s Jennifer Hauser

Covid-19 drive-thru vaccine clinics will be closed on Thursday in Denton County, Texas -- which includes Dallas and Fort Worth -- due to wintry weather. Appointments will be rescheduled to Friday afternoon.

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) says they plan to administer approximately 3,000 second doses of Moderna's vaccine on Friday as well as 4,500 first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Texas Motor Speedway.

The health department said they will send out new appointment times via email or text on Wednesday afternoon.

“We do not want to bring our residents out on icy roads or have our crews and volunteers working in below-freezing weather,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said, according to a tweet from DCPH.

"While we know our community members are eager to be vaccinated, the health and safety of the attendees, staff, and volunteers is most important,” stated DCPH Director Dr. Matt Richardson. “We are hopeful the weather will be more cooperative Friday for a safer clinic.”

There are a total of 57,919 Covid-19 cases in Denton County as of Tuesday, according to the health department.

10:38 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Spain's patients recovering from Covid-19 must wait six months for vaccine, health ministry says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite, Vasco Cotovio and James Frater

A health worker prepares the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Madrid on January 12.
A health worker prepares the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Madrid on January 12. Oscar Del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Spain's health ministry said Wednesday that recovering Covid-19 patients who are under 55 and have no major health complications must wait six months from their diagnosis before receiving a vaccine.

The measure will apply to the three vaccines currently being distributed in Spain -- AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna -- and is provisional pending further research.

In a document outlining the national Covid-19 vaccination strategy published Wednesday, the health ministry said that "the availability of the three authorized vaccines is insufficient to achieve in the short term universal access to them."

"In addition, it is important to highlight that the current context of the vaccination against Covid-19 is conditioned by the serious epidemiological situation that we have been experiencing in the past few weeks, with an increase in infections and hospital admissions, with a increased risk for certain population groups, among whom we highlight the people with 80 or more years," it said.

The health ministry called for "solidarity and for confidence" in the vaccine strategy and asked for the public to understand that in the "current epidemiological context, all efforts must be focused on those who could see their health most affected, even losing their lives due to being infected by the virus and contracting the disease."

The statement also said that "current evidence indicates that reinfection is exceptional within six months of a SARSCoV-2 infection." 

In December however, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that "as the exact duration of natural immunity from COVID-19 infection is currently unknown, at this stage it is advisable not to exclude people with previous COVID-19 infection from vaccination."

"Nevertheless, these aspects need to be followed up and updated according to the emerging evidence," the ECDC said.

On January 27, the regional government of Madrid decided to stop administering first doses of their Covid-19 vaccines for the next two weeks due to growing uncertainty over its supply.

So far in Spain, the only people under 55 who are eligible to receive the vaccine are healthcare professionals.

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

Bahrain becomes latest country to approve Russian vaccine

From CNN's Kareem Khadder, Zahra Ullah and Mostafa Salem

A vial containing the Gam-COVID-Vak Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, is pictured at a clinic in Moscow in December 2020.
A vial containing the Gam-COVID-Vak Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, is pictured at a clinic in Moscow in December 2020. Vladimir Gerdo/TASS/Getty Images

Bahrain has approved the emergency use of the Russian produced vaccine, Sputnik V, state media and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said.

Bahrain has become the 24th country to use the Russian made vaccine, the RDIF said in a press release Wednesday. 

The country's Ministry of Health said that 759 new related Covid-19 infection cases were reported in a 24-hour period, which brings the total number of infections to 108,420 since the start of the pandemic. 

Four new deaths were reported in a 24-hour period bringing the total number of Covid-related deaths in Bahrain to 387.

The Sputnik V Vaccine is the fourth drug approved for emergency use in Bahrain; Sinopharm, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca are already available for use in the Persian Gulf country, reported Bahrain’s State News Agency.