March 18 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Brett McKeehan and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 3:48 AM ET, Fri March 19, 2021
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4:01 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Covid-19 reinfections are rare, but more common in people 65 and older, study finds

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Coronavirus reinfections are relatively rare, but it's more common for people 65 and older to get infected more than once, according to a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal.

A team of scientists, including some from Denmark's Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, noted that most people who have had Covid-19 seemed to have protection from reinfection that remained stable for more than six months. In the follow-up after six months, the study didn't find evidence that protection was waning.

But a check of the demographics of who was getting infected again showed it was mostly people age 65 and older.

Researchers looked at the reinfection rate among 4 million people during the second surge of Covid-19 from September through December 31, and compared this to the infection rate during the first surge between March and May. Of the 11,068 people who tested positive during the first surge, only 72 tested positive again during the second.

The older age group had only about 47% protection against repeat infection, compared to younger people who seemed to have about 80% protection from reinfection, the team wrote.

The finding is not completely unexpected, since immune systems weaken as people age.

"Given what is at stake, the results emphasize how important it is that people adhere to measures implemented to keep themselves and others safe, even if they have already had Covid-19," study co-author Dr. Steen Ethelberg of the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark said in a statement.

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3:56 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Brazil reports its highest daily surge in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of Emilio Ribas Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 17.
Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of Emilio Ribas Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 17. Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil reported 90,303 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday -- its highest daily surge in infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country's total caseload now stands at 11,693,838, according to its health ministry. Brazil has registered a total of 284,775 virus-related deaths, with 2,648 new fatalities reported Wednesday.

The new high in daily infections came after Brazil reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll of 2,841 on Tuesday, with ICU occupancy rates surging past 80% in 25 of the country's 26 states and its federal district.

On Tuesday, Brazilian research institute Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FioCruz) warned the coronavirus crisis in the country is "the greatest health and hospital collapse in the history of Brazil."

3:52 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Biden administration is considering sending some AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The Biden administration is considering sending some AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses stockpiled and waiting for official usage approval in the US over the border to Mexico and Canada, according to a senior administration official.

Intense discussions are taking place following a request for doses from both countries and, for Mexico at least, an agreement could be announced as soon as Friday, according to Mexican officials.

"I'd say we've made good progress, but the details, figures, provisions, won't be known until Friday," Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters on Tuesday morning, according to Reuters. "We requested as many (AstraZeneca doses) as possible."

The Biden administration has committed to having enough vaccines for all Americans before sharing doses, and if this agreement comes together it would be the first time the US has shared vaccines directly with another country. It would also likely give a major boost to vaccination efforts in Canada and Mexico, which are struggling with their vaccine rollouts in comparison to the US.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed requests have been received from both Mexico and Canada, and they are being considered carefully. She provided no details on when a decision would be reached.

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