February 25 coronavirus news

By Eoin McSweeney, Hannah Strange and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 1:42 AM ET, Fri February 26, 2021
20 Posts
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10:51 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

European Health Commissioner says EU's goal is to vaccinate 70% of adults by summer

From CNN's James Frater

Europe's Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on February 17.
Europe's Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on February 17. Aris Oikonomou/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union's goal is to vaccinate 70% of adults in each member state "by the summer," Europe's Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said during a virtual summit on Thursday. 

“We are seeing more and more people being vaccinated every day and we are taking decisive action to increase the production, delivery and the rollout of vaccines across the EU. But we are also very aware that we need to vaccinate as quickly as possible," Kyriakides said.

“We set an overall target for member states that they should vaccinate a minimum of 70% of their adult population by the summer, it is an ambitious goal, but it is reachable," she added. “Predictability around the deliveries are essential though for an efficient rollout, and together with the member states we are really working 24/7 and doing everything we can to ensure that companies deliver on our agreements."

“We stand ready to update or to conclude new advanced purchase agreements and are working very closely with manufacturers to address any bottlenecks in production as they appear,” Kyriakides added. 

10:55 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

Bahrain approves single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Hamdi Alkhshali

An investigational pharmacy technician prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for a clinical trial in Aurora, Colorado, in December 2020.
An investigational pharmacy technician prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for a clinical trial in Aurora, Colorado, in December 2020. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Bahrain approved the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine, making it the fifth vaccine authorized for emergency use in the tiny Gulf nation, according to the Bahrain News Agency. 

The vaccine will be available for the elderly, people with chronic diseases and other at-risk groups, the statement said. 

“An in-depth study has been conducted on all documents provided by the producing company on the clinical results of the vaccine, in light of the studies conducted in many countries,” the statement added, quoting the head of the National Health Regulatory Authority Mariam Adhbi Al Jalahma. 

The country of 1.6 million people had previously approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Sinopharm vaccine and the Sputnik V vaccine. 

10:47 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

UK Covid-19 cases fall nearly 80% in 6 weeks of lockdown

From CNN’s Eoin McSweeney

Covid-19 cases in England have fallen 78% since the government imposed a national lockdown on Jan. 4, according to weekly statistics from the National Health Service Test and Trace.

Some 84,310 people tested positive for the virus between Feb. 11 and Feb. 17, the lowest weekly figure recorded since September. 

That’s out of a total of out of a total of 2,580,210 people who were tested that week, a 14% decrease from the previous week.

Thursday’s figure was a large decrease from the 388,037 recorded between New Year’s Eve and Jan. 6, the week UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed harsh measures to curb the spread of a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 first discovered in southeast England.

Johnson set out a four-step roadmap on Monday to take England out of its Covid-19 lockdown, declaring that the nation was on a "one-way road to freedom."

The UK has the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe, with more than 120,000 fatalities, and remains under strict pandemic restrictions.

It has administered nearly 19 million first vaccine doses, with 642,788 fully vaccinated, according to data from John Hopkins University.

11:01 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

Guatemala authorizes emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

From CNN's Jaide Timm-Garcia

Vials of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine are at a vaccination center in Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport on February 19.
Vials of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine are at a vaccination center in Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport on February 19. Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Guatemala's Health Ministry approved the emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19, according to a statement from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) released Thursday. 

Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF said, “Guatemala is the third country of Central America to approve the use of Sputnik V," and the 37th country worldwide.

Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19 over the course of taking two shots, the RDIF statement says. 

To date, Guatemala has registered at least 172,764 cases of Covid-19 with a death toll of 6,327, according to John Hopkins University. 

10:26 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

UK lowers Covid alert level from 5 to 4 due to numbers "consistently declining"

From CNN’s Lauren Kent

The United Kingdom lowered its Covid alert level from five to four, the Department of Health and Social Care announced Thursday.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded," it said in a statement.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines," the statement continued.

10:01 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

Syria to administer first Covid-19 vaccines to frontline workers next week

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem, Hamdi Alkhshali and Eyad Kourdi

Syria will start administering vaccines the country has received “from a friendly country” to frontlines workers treating coronavirus patients next week, the health minister Hassan al-Ghobash said Thursday, according to state news agency SANA. 

The name and quantities of the vaccines were not mentioned in the statement. 

“Al-Ghobash stated that the vaccination will begin to be given to the most vulnerable group, who are the workers at the isolation centers, with a priority for the older age group and the nature of their work,” SANA added. 

The vaccines will be administered in two doses within 21 days of one another and have been administered in other countries with a “demonstrated efficacy," the statement said. 

“The next stage, citizens will be vaccinated voluntarily, and those over the age of 55, taking into consideration those who have chronic diseases,” the statement explained. “Al-Ghobash added that the ministry was able, despite the harsh conditions, the unjust siege and the limited capabilities, to contain the health damages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

Human Rights Watch called on authorities to provide equitable access to all the different areas in Syria, including areas controlled by different groups. 

“Although the Syrian government bears primary responsibility for providing health care to everyone in its territory, it has repeatedly withheld vital food, medicine, and aid from political opponents and civilians. The UN Security Council’s failure to maintain a cross-border aid system for northeast Syria also means there is no guaranteed channel for vaccine distribution for two million people living there,” Human Rights Watch said. 

9:48 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

Finland to enter a 3 week lockdown on March 8 

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite 

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives at the European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2020.
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives at the European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2020. Johanna Geron/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Finland will go into a three-week lockdown starting March 8 and is prepared to declare a state of emergency, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Thursday.

Marin was speaking during a news conference as the country faces a "significant" increase in the number of coronavirus cases and a rise in hospitalizations. 

The strictest restrictions will be introduced Thursday in seven hospital districts, including the capital Helsinki. Such measures include distance working, the recommended use of face masks, protection of high-risk groups, distance schooling in higher education, lockdown of public areas, closure of adult leisure activities and a ban on gatherings. 

The lockdown will not include a curfew but will involve the closing of restaurants and ordering school students that are 13 or older to shift to remote learning, the government said. 

The incidence of cases across the country was 62 infections per 100,000 population in the week of Feb. 15, compared to 46 infections per 100,000 population in the previous week, the Health Ministry said in a statement Thursday.  

The coronavirus situation has “deteriorated in recent weeks, especially in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital districts,” the ministry added. 

Hospital workload has been increasing over the past week across the country. The need for intensive care has also increased in the last couple of weeks, but the intensive care unit capacity nationwide has not been threatened, according to the ministry.

To date, at least 690 cases of coronavirus variants have been reported in Finland. Of these, 660 are cases related to the variant first detected in the UK.

11:05 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

Covid-19 vaccine shots administered as second doses outpace first doses in US, CDC data shows

From CNN's Michael Nedelman and Deidre McPhillips

A registered nurse administers the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a health care worker in Hartford, Connecticut, on January 4.
A registered nurse administers the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a health care worker in Hartford, Connecticut, on January 4. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

The number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US as second doses outpaced first doses for the first time over the past week, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past seven days, the number of doses administered has jumped by nearly 10.2 million doses. Of those, just over half – 5.1 million – were second doses.

The week before that added over 11.5 million newly administered doses to the total. Five million, or 43%, were second doses.

To date, about 14% of the population – more than 45 million people – have received at least one dose of vaccine. More than 6% of the population – about 20.6 million people – have been fully vaccinated with both shots. 

Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.

More on where US vaccines stand: Both vaccines currently authorized for emergency use in the US, from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, require two shots several weeks apart.

A single-dose vaccine by Johnson & Johnson may receive the same authorization within the coming days.

Amid low vaccine supply, a number of experts have advocated delaying second doses in favor of getting more people their first. Some research has suggested a high degree of temporary protection from just one dose.

However, US officials have pushed back on this, saying it’s unclear how long that protection lasts, and arguing we need to stick with the evidence from clinical trials.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of doses added in the week before last. It was 11.5 million.

8:43 a.m. ET, February 25, 2021

Moderna completed enrollment for Phase 2/3 trial for Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Moderna has completed enrollment for a Phase 2/3 trial studying their vaccine in adolescents and will start the Phase 2 study in younger children soon, the company said in a press release Thursday. 

“TeenCOVE,” the study of mRNA-1273 in adolescents ages 12 to 17, completed Phase 2/3 enrollment of 3,000 US participants.

Phase 2 “KidCOVE,” Moderna’s study of the vaccine in younger children, ages 6 months to 11 years, will start in the near term, the release said.

The release also updated on a next-generation vaccine against Covid-19, called mRNA-1283, which is being developed as a “potential refrigerator stable mRNA vaccine that will facilitate easier distribution and administration.”

This next generation vaccine is intended to be evaluated for use as a booster dose for those who have previously been vaccinated or infected as well as a primary series for those who are have not had Covid-19 and have yet to be vaccinated.

Moderna is one of two companies with Covid-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States.