February 22 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Eoin McSweeney and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 1:45 AM ET, Tue February 23, 2021
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2:05 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Biden to mark upcoming 500,000 Covid deaths with candle lighting ceremony

From CNN's Arlette Saenz 

With the United States approaching half a million Covid-19 deaths, plans are underway for President Joe Biden to mark the moment this week.

The President is planning to deliver remarks and hold a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House around sundown as soon as Monday if the threshold is crossed, a White House official said.

First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also participate. 

At least 498,897 people have died in the US from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The nation has reported more than 28.1 million total cases.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was working on plans so the President could use his “own voice and platform to take a moment to remember the people whose lives have been lost, the families who are still suffering.” 

One day before taking office, Biden, Harris and their spouses held a somber ceremony on the National Mall to commemorate the more than 400,000 lives lost to Covid-19. “To heal we must remember,” Biden said at the time.

2:36 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Australia kicks off vaccination program for frontline workers

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

A health worker receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, February 22. 
A health worker receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, February 22.  Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Australia began its Covid-19 vaccination rollout for frontline workers on Monday with about 60,000 Pfizer/BioNTech doses, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will begin rolling out in March, said Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt in a news release.

Aged care resident Jane Malysiak, 84, from Marayong, New South Wales, was the first person in Australia to receive a Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday ahead of Monday's official rollout.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on as Jane Malysiak becomes the first person in the country to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Sydney on February 21.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on as Jane Malysiak becomes the first person in the country to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Sydney on February 21. Steven Saphore/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Morrison also received his vaccine on Sunday.

"Pleased to get my #COVID19 vaccine today along with Australia’s CMO Professor Paul Kelly to give further confidence to Australians these vaccines, which have been tested and approved by our medical experts, are safe & effective," Morrison tweeted afterward.

The Australian government has secured more than 150 million vaccine doses. Over 50 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine ordered by the government will be manufactured in Melbourne.