February 16 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brad Lendon, Zamira Rahim, Mary Ilyushina and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 10:49 p.m. ET, February 17, 2021
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12:44 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Biden administration increasing weekly Covid-19 vaccine supply to 13.5 million doses

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is again increasing its weekly Covid-19 vaccine supply being sent to states, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Tuesday.

During a call with governors, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients informed the officials that the administration is “increasing the vaccine supply to 13.5 million doses per week to states," Psaki said at Tuesday’s briefing, a 57% increase from inauguration levels.

Additionally, Psaki said, the administration will be “doubling the supply to our pharmacy program.” This week, there will be 2 million doses sent to pharmacies across the country, she said, which is expected to expand in the coming weeks. 

“Eventually,” Psaki said, more than 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide will be providing vaccines.

This news comes as the administration is working to rapidly scale vaccinations nearly four weeks after taking office amid some confusion and feedback from governors.

Some more context: CNN’s Kevin Liptak reported Monday that a bipartisan group of governors expressed concern at the Biden administration's vaccine rollout, writing in a letter to the White House that better coordination is needed between the federal government and states on distributing doses to prevent confusion and duplicative efforts.

The executive committee of the National Governors Association, comprised of Democrats and Republicans, raised alarm over two areas of confusion: first, the numbers publicly reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccine distribution; and second, the separate federal distribution systems — including a recently launched program sending vaccines directly to retail pharmacies — they say have caused inefficiencies.

12:26 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

More than 3 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic

From CNN's Jen Christensen

More than 3.03 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 as of February 11, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Last week alone, about 99,000 new child cases were identified through testing, the report said. That’s an 8% increase in child Covid-19 cases over the course of two weeks. Children represent 13% of all cases in the US.

Children made up between 6% and 18.3% of those who were tested for Covid-19, and 5.2% to 29.6% of children tested were positive for the coronavirus, depending on the state.

Children are still considered much less likely than adults to develop severe symptoms of Covid-19 or to die from the disease. Children represented 1.2% to 2.9% of total reported hospitalizations for Covid-19, based on the information provided by 24 states and New York City. Only 0.1% to 2.3% of all cases of Covid-19 in children required hospitalization. 

Ten states reported zero child deaths among the 43 states that provided data on Covid-19 mortality. The states that did report having a fatal case saw no more than 0.05% of deaths in children among all confirmed cases of Covid-19. 

1:40 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Fauci says timeline for mass vaccinations could shift "maybe into mid-to-late May and early June"

 From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto Tuesday he thinks the process of widespread vaccinations will likely start in the spring and large portions of the public will be able to be vaccinated by the end of the summer.

Fauci acknowledged that previous estimates had placed vaccine availability for the general public closer to the end of April. He said vaccine availability to large parts of the public could depend on the Johnson & Johnson candidate, which has not yet been given emergency use authorization but is in the process.

“If you start talking about when vaccine would be more widely available to the general population, I was hoping that that would be by the end of April, namely, have gone through all the priorities and now say, OK anyone can get it,” Fauci said. “That was predicated on J&J, the Johnson product, having considerably more doses than now we know they’re going to have.” 

“So, that timeline will probably be prolonged, maybe into mid-to-late May and early June, that’s fine,” Fauci said.

Johnson & Johnson will have fewer than 10 million vaccine doses available if the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes it for emergency use in the coming weeks, a federal health official told CNN earlier this month. 

The official said the number of doses available would be in the single-digit millions, but that number would ramp up to 20 or 30 million doses by April. 

The FDA has scheduled its meeting of independent experts to evaluate the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and make a recommendation on Feb. 26.

WATCH:

11:04 a.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Moderna has supplied 45.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to US

From CNN's John Bonifield

A medical worker prepares a vial of the Moderna vaccine to be administered at Bible-Based Fellowship Church on February 13, in Tampa, Florida.
A medical worker prepares a vial of the Moderna vaccine to be administered at Bible-Based Fellowship Church on February 13, in Tampa, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Moderna has supplied 45.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the United States, the company announced Tuesday.

The company said data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows about 25.5 million doses of its vaccine have been administered across the nation.

An additional 33.2 million doses have been filled into vials and are going through final production and testing before being released to the government, according to the company's latest supply update. 

Some of the doses have not been released due to delays.

"Short term delays in the final stages of production and release of filled vials at Moderna’s fill and finish contractor Catalent have recently delayed the release of some doses, but these delays are expected to be resolved in the near term and are not expected to impact monthly delivery targets," the company said in a press release.

Moderna said it expects to deliver 100 million doses by the end of March, followed by an additional 100 million doses by the end of May and another 100 million doses by the end of July.

10:59 a.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Dr. Fauci: Decline in Covid-19 cases should not make Americans complacent

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

As Covid-19 cases continue to decline in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s still important to remain careful.

“We’ve just got to be careful about getting too excited about that because we do have the challenge of variants,” he told CNN. “One of the things that we need to make sure we do is we don't get complacent when we see those numbers go down.”

Americans must continue with public health measures until the case count is “so low that it is no longer a threat,” he urged.

The decline in cases, continued public health measures and ongoing vaccinations could together help the US go in the right direction, he added.

While experts watch out for the variants, Fauci said the variant originating from the UK is likely to get dominant in the United States by the end of March but the vaccines being administered protect against that, which is “good news.”

The process of widespread vaccinations will likely start in the spring and large portions of the public will be able to be vaccinated by the end of the summer, he told CNN.

Watch the interview here:

10:08 a.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Severe Covid-19 infection may also be linked to eye damage, study suggests 

From CNN's Christopher Rios

A new study suggests that Covid-19 may cause damage to the eyes in critically ill patients.  

For the study, published in the journal Radiology, researchers reviewed magnetic resonance imaging of 129 patients presenting with severe Covid-19 in France between March 4 and May 1. 

Advanced imaging tests showed nine of the 129 (7%) patients had one or several irregularities at the back of the eyes. The irregularities could indicate possible damage or blockage of blood vessels, small bleeds in the eye or disruption of nerve fibers. 

All but one of the affected patients had damage in both eyes. 

But due to the lack of “systematic ophthalmological examination” of patients in the ICU, researchers were limited by data and unable to correlate their radiographic findings with vision changes. 

Researchers think these findings may be caused by widespread blood clotting in small vessels and disruption of an enzyme that protects the eye from damage. They also suggest the finding could be linked to increased pressure in the eyes caused by positioning ICU patients face-down (prone position) when on mechanical ventilation. 

Further research is needed to determine exactly what is causing damage to the eye in these critically ill patients and how this damage changes with time, the researchers said.

But the current study suggests that doctors should consider screening patients with severe Covid-19 for ocular problems.  

“Our data support the need for screening and follow-up of patients to provide appropriate treatment and improve the management of potentially severe ophiological manifestations,” the authors said.

9:55 a.m. ET, February 16, 2021

White House Covid-19 adviser says drop in US cases could be "misleading" in face of variants

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Andy Slavitt, White House Covid-19 senior adviser, said on MSNBC Monday the drop in Covid-19 cases could be “misleading,” and the virus could have “a lot of surprises in store for us.”

Among those surprises are the variants, he said, noting that the variant first identified in the UK – or B.1.1.7 – is more virulent. 

“I think we should be assuming that the next wave of case growth, to the extent that we have it, is going to be with B.1.1.7, and that’s something that I think everybody has to be even more cautious about,” he said. “It’s nice to see the numbers of cases drop, but it could be misleading.” 

Increases in cases aren’t inevitable if people protect themselves, he said, urging people to continue to wear masks and follow guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ultimately, science will win here, ultimately, we will beat this,” Slavitt said. “But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to out of the woods.”

 

9:48 a.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Connecticut identifies first case of Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has detected its first positive case of the B.1.351 variant of Covid-19, according to a Monday DPH release.

The strain, first identified in South Africa, was detected “in a Connecticut patient who is currently hospitalized out of state with the virus,” the release said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed in a Monday press conference that a New York hospital was treating a Connecticut-based patient who had contracted the variant.

The patient is between 60 and 70 years old and has not traveled recently, according to the DPH release, but it did not identify the patient’s sex or whether that individual has any underlying health conditions.

Connecticut DPH and local health officials are “coordinating with officials in New York” and all contact tracing efforts have been completed, the release said. 

The state has already confirmed 42 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, the release stated, which is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom.

9:20 a.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Chile has vaccinated more than 2 million people

From CNN's Florencia Trucco and Mitchell McCluskey

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac to a teacher at a vaccination center in Santiago, Chile, on February 15, 2021.
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac to a teacher at a vaccination center in Santiago, Chile, on February 15, 2021. Martin Bernetti/Getty Images

Chile has vaccinated more than 2 million people, the ministry of health announced on Monday.

A total of 2,092,453 people received at least the first dose, the ministry said. 

Chile's mass vaccination campaign began on Feb. 4, with the country distributing the Pfizer/BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines to healthcare workers, the elderly and educational personnel.

The first vaccine doses arrived in the country in December and were given to medical workers beginning Dec. 24. 

"We will not lower our arms until we vaccinate them all. Together we will make 2021 the year of hope and the recovery of our dreams and life projects," President Sebastián Piñera said on Twitter. 

Chile has recorded 779,541 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 19,624 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.