February 22 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Eoin McSweeney and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 1:45 AM ET, Tue February 23, 2021
18 Posts
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9:47 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Fauci explains comments about wearing masks into 2022 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a visit at the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Bethesda, Md.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a visit at the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Bethesda, Md. Evan VucciAP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said again on Monday that Americans might be wearing masks into 2022, and although there may be far less spread of the coronavirus, people must be prepared for the possibility of another surge of cases. 

On Sunday, Fauci told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union that it was possible that people could be wearing masks into 2022. 

“The point I was trying to make is that people ask you to make a projection when there are so many variables in there that are unpredictable,” Fauci told Gayle King on CBS This Morning on Monday.

“So, when I said we might be, I didn’t say we absolutely are going to be wearing them, I’m saying it is quite conceivable that if we actually go into the fall and the winter and there is still a degree of virus in the community, despite the fact that many people have been vaccinated – we certainly will likely, very likely be much better off then than we are now – but it is conceivable that there will be enough virus in the community that in order to be extra safe, we may have to be wearing masks under certain circumstances," he continued.

“That’s the only point that I was making, I was not trying to scare people. I’m saying we’ve got to be prepared, that variables are there and we can get another surge,” Fauci added.

While he said that he doesn’t think there will be another surge, and he hopes there won’t be, the United States has to be prepared for one. 

“That’s what I meant by don’t just give up on public health measures, because we’re going in the right direction,” Fauci said. 

 

9:41 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Vaccine rollout is linked to a "substantial" drop in risk of Covid-19 hospitalization in Scotland

From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Chloe Adams

A military doctor administers a Covid-19 vaccine to an Edinburgh resident on February 4.
A military doctor administers a Covid-19 vaccine to an Edinburgh resident on February 4. Andrew Milligan/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccination rollout has been linked to a substantial fall in the risk of admission to hospitals from the disease in Scotland, according to early data from a study on the effect of the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca shots in the community. 

Researchers compared hospital admissions among those who have had their first dose and those who have not.  

By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85%. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by up to 94%.

The preliminary study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, is the first to look at the two vaccines’ effect on preventing severe illness resulting in hospitalization across an entire country, with previous efficacy results coming from clinical trials.

The EAVE II project, carried out by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrew’s and Public Health Scotland (PHS), analyzed a dataset covering almost the entire Scottish population of 5.4 million.  

Researchers analyzed data for every week between December 8 and February 15. During this period 1.14 million vaccines were administered (some 650,000 people got the Pfizer shot and some 490,000 had Oxford-AstraZeneca) with 21% of the Scottish population receiving a first dose, according to a University of Edinburgh press release. 

Among those aged 80 years and over -- one of the highest risk groups -- vaccination was associated with an 81% reduction in hospitalization risk from Covid-19 in the fourth week, when the results for both vaccines were combined, according to the press release. 

“These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future. We now have national evidence -- across an entire country -- that vaccination provides protection against Covid-19 hospitalizations,” lead researcher Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said in the release.

Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease.”

The researchers say the findings are applicable to other countries that are using the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines but caution that the data does not allow for comparisons between the two vaccines. “We haven't done a direct comparison between the two,” Sheikh said during a Monday news press conference.

Dr. Jim McMenamin, national Covid-19 incident director for PHS, stressed that the results are from a single dose, rather than a complete course of the vaccine. He said the bottom line is the team are “very encouraged” by the national data that shows the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines “are providing substantial protection against the risk of hospital admissions.

“No matter which of the two vaccines that any of our population are receiving, on the basis of the information that we're presenting ... there's encouragement, about the effect of both vaccines,” he added.

8:53 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

This may be the most crucial week yet on US Covid-19 relief. Here's what we expect in Congress. 

From CNN's Lauren Fox 

Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This week is President Biden's first big test, as his massive relief Covid-19 relief bill comes together on the Hill, with very little bipartisan support.   

On the cusp of 500,000 Covid-19 deaths and nearly one year into the pandemic that devastated the economy, saw rising unemployment, shuttered businesses and shattered families, Democrats will try to remain united and pass one more massive $1.9 trillion relief bill testing the party’s ability to deliver for their new President and lead together.

Bottom line: The next three weeks will give an early glimpse into how the Democrats’ moderates and progressives work together, who is willing to make good on their threats to torpedo legislation and who is willing to set aside their political grievances in the name of the bigger picture. The goal is to pass this bill and get it signed by March 14. Everything has to go smoothly for that to happen.

One party having the House, Senate and White House is never as easy as it looks, and that’s true even when talking about legislation that is overwhelmingly popular with the American public. When you ask members on the fence why they are voting for a bill that includes provisions they may not be so keen on their answer is simple: you cannot vote against Biden’s first big ask and you certainly can’t vote against it when it polls like this package does.

What you’ll see in the House this week: The House Budget Committee is going to meet at 1 p.m. ET today to mark-up their 591-page bill and work to pass it out of Committee. The mark-up will be an opportunity for Republicans to message against the bill, rail against the increase in health care subsidies, attack provisions that provide funding to humanities, the arts and the preservation of Native American languages – which they will argue have nothing to do with coronavirus– and rail against the overall price tag of the package.

They’ll offer amendments that we don’t expect to pass and then when everyone has had enough, there will be a vote to advance the bill out of committee and send it to the floor. 

The final vote on the package on the floor will be later this week likely Friday or Saturday.

8:19 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

US has "done worse than most any other country" on Covid-19 response, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Biden speak at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Biden speak at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

As the United States approaches half a million deaths from Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that the situation didn’t have to be this bad, the country needs to be unified and committed to fighting the virus together. 

“I believe that if you look back historically, we’ve done worse than most any other country, and we’re a highly developed rich country,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. “There were things back then that if you go back and think about what you might have done, the kind of disparate responses of different states, rather than having a unified approach.” 

“It’s so tough to just go back and try and, you know, do a metaphorical autopsy on how things went,” Fauci said. “It was just bad; it is bad now.” 

In late winter and early spring last year, when it was said that the numbers could get as high as 240,000, “people were thinking we were being hyperbolic about it, and now here we are with a half a million deaths, just a stunning figure.” 

Rather than looking back and saying “what the heck happened here?” Fauci said, he would encourage everyone “go forward and be completely committed as a unified country to just go at this together. This is a common enemy, we’ve all got to pitch in.” 

There’s good news on vaccines, he said, but it’s a race against the infections – and public health measures to limit spread must continue.

“That is the weapons that we have against this horrible disease,” he said. 

8:16 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Novavax says enrollment of its Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial in US and Mexico is complete

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Stephaun Wallace participates in the Novavax phase 3 trial at the UW Virology Research Clinic in Seattle, Washington, on February 12.
Dr. Stephaun Wallace participates in the Novavax phase 3 trial at the UW Virology Research Clinic in Seattle, Washington, on February 12. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

The biotechnology company Novavax announced on Monday that it has completed enrollment of its PREVENT-19 trial, a Phase 3 study of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Mexico. 

The trial has enrolled 30,000 volunteers across 118 locations, according to the announcement. 

In January, Novavax announced that early results from a Phase 3 trial in the UK show its coronavirus vaccine has an efficacy of 89.3%.

"The full enrollment of PREVENT-19 is another important step in building a body of evidence to demonstrate that NVX-CoV2373 will be safe and effective across diverse, representative populations," Gregory M. Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax, said in the company's announcement. 

The company's announcement also included the diversity breakdown of its trial participants, with 20% identifying as LatinX, 13% as Black, 6% as Native American, and 5% as Asian American. 

The announcement noted that 13% of volunteers are 65 and older.

8:10 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Mediterranean region imposes partial weekend lockdown

From CNN's Saskya Vandoorne

The Alpes-Maritimes police commissioner on Monday announced a partial lockdown in between the French coastal towns of Menton and Theoule over the next two weekends in an effort to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases and the spread of new variants.

Bernard Gonzalez said controls at the France-Italy border would be tightened and that shopping centers larger than 5,000 square meters that do not sell food are to close starting Tuesday.

The Alpes-Maritimes region -- which includes the city of Nice -- has the highest incidence rate in France. The province is reporting 588 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days, according to the police commissioner, three times the national average. 

An additional 4,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been sent to the region on Monday for use in the 48 to 72 hours that follow.

The partial weekend lockdown announcement follows a visit from French Health Minister Olivier Véran to the province on Saturday during which he called for stricter restrictions.

French President Emmanuel Macron has done everything to avoid a third nationwide lockdown, implementing a 6 p.m. curfew and reinforcing border controls.

8:08 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Sanofi and GSK start Phase 2 trial of their vaccine, and Phase 3 could begin by April

From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht

The Sanofi campus in Paris, France.
The Sanofi campus in Paris, France. Nathan Laine/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said Monday they had begun a Phase 2 trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and if results are positive, a Phase 3 study could start in the second quarter of 2021.

The “protein subunit” vaccine uses Sanofi's recombinant antigen technology with a GlaxoSmithKline adjuvant, an immune booster. The Phase 2 study will include 720 volunteers age 18 and older in the United States, Honduras and Panama.

The trial will assess the dosage of the companies’ vaccine; three different antigen doses will be tested with a fixed adjuvant dose and the two injections will be given 21 days apart.

Phase 1/2 trials showed the vaccine candidate elicited an immune response in younger adults that's comparable to patients who recovered from Covid-19, but the vaccine did not produce the desired immune response in older adults. The Phase 2 trial will include equal numbers of adults ages 18 to 59 years, and 60 years and above.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine, based on learnings from our initial Phase 1/2 study,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement. “We are confident that our vaccine candidate has strong potential and we are very encouraged by the latest preclinical data."

The companies said the vaccine could be available in the fourth quarter if trial results are positive and the vaccine is authorized. In statements, the companies also said Sanofi has begun work against new coronavirus variants “which will be used to inform next stages of the Sanofi/GSK development program."

7:49 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

France rugby captain among team's 5 new Covid cases

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok

France rugby captain Charles Ollivon is among five new players to have tested positive for Covid-19, the French rugby federation (FFR) announced on Monday.

Ollivon, along with Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua and Brice Dulin, returned positive results following the latest round of testing on Sunday. The FFR added that two members of staff are also suspected to have contracted the virus.

It brings the total number of France players to have returned positive Covid-19 results to 10.

All five of the players who returned positive tests on Sunday have been replaced in France’s 31-man squad.

The FFR said the team is set to return to training at the National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis, on the outskirts of Paris, on Wednesday.

France, who currently top the Six Nations standings, are scheduled to face Scotland in Paris on Sunday.

7:30 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

There's still huge amounts we don't know about long-term Covid

From CNN's Theresa Waldrop

From Washington state to Florida, from California to Massachusetts, facilities are opening to help the growing number of Americans who suffer from Covid-19 symptoms many months after their diagnosis.

Just a little more than a year into the pandemic, it's not clear how many Covid-19 patients go on to develop what's called long-term Covid, or long Covid. A recent study that included mostly people who had just mild cases found 30% were reporting symptoms as long as nine months after contracting the virus. Other studies have found a higher percentage.

And almost every day that doctors work with these Covid long haulers brings new revelations about the syndrome, which manifests itself in a vast array of symptoms in patients of all ages and of every health status pre-Covid.

"We now realize it goes way beyond the standard post viral syndrome," said Dr. William Li, a physician of internal medicine and founder of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on the role of blood vessels in diseases.

"These symptoms can last for nine months. And we're going on to a year now, we're still seeing new symptoms unfold," said Li, a vascular biologist who has been researching Covid for almost a year.

Read the full story here: