April 7 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Martin Goillandeau and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 2:22 AM ET, Thu April 8, 2021
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11:50 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Go There: CNN reports from Los Angeles as California plans to fully reopen in June

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Cheri Mossburg and Madeline Holcombe

California, the first state to implement a mandatory lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic, said it plans to fully reopen activities and businesses beginning June 15.

Falling infection rates, low hospitalizations and rising vaccinations are reasons this can be done, state Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said.

California's mask mandate, however, would remain in place, at least "in the short run," Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

CNN correspondent Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles with the latest.

Watch:

12:19 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

UK regulator says under-30s should be offered alternative to AstraZeneca vaccine where available

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that adults below 30 years of age should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine in preference to an AstraZeneca one.

“Adults aged 18-29 who do not have an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk from serious Covid-19 disease, should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine in preference to an AstraZeneca vaccine where such an alternative vaccine is available,” the Chair of the JCVI said at a briefing on Wednesday.

Here's why: This comes after a review by Britain’s drug regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed there is a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots,” maintaining the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.

"The evidence is firming up and our review has concluded that, while it’s a strong possibility, more work is needed to establish beyond all doubt that the vaccine has caused these side effects," Chief Executive of the MHRA, Dr June Raine, said at a briefing Wednesday.

“Based on the current evidence, the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca, against Covid-19 and its associated risks, hospitalization and death, continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.” 

Raine explained that the MHRA had detected 79 cases out of more than 20 million doses administered in the UK up until March 30. 

“Our review has reinforced that the risk of this severe side effect remains extremely small,” she added.

Of those 79 cases, 19 people died and among those, three were under 30s.

“The balance of benefits and risks is very favourable for older people but it is more finely balanced for the younger people,” Raine said. “We at the MHRA are advising that this evolving evidence should be taken into account, when considering how the vaccine is used.”

For the under 30s: Despite advising that an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine be offered to adults aged 18-29, Britain’s JCVI did say that those who have already received the first jab, should receive the second one. 

JCVI Chair Wei Shen Lim said people on the limit of the age recommendation should make “their own decision” about vaccination. 

“For somebody who's 31 and 32, I think they have to make their own decision as to what they want to do about vaccination,” he said. “We would still say that the balance is in favour of being vaccinated because of the risks from Covid-19 and the protection that the vaccine offers.”

12:16 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

UK variant is now the dominant coronavirus strain in the US, CDC director says

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

A healthcare worker places a vial containing a Covid-19 test swab into a box at a testing site in San Francisco, California, on January 9.
A healthcare worker places a vial containing a Covid-19 test swab into a box at a testing site in San Francisco, California, on January 9. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the United States, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.

“Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” Walensky said at the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing.

Asked for clarity by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Walensky said, “It is the most common lineage, period. So there are many different lineages. Of the many different potential variants, there are several different kinds – of sort of wild type variants – and this is, in fact, the most common lineage right now.”

Studies have suggested that the UK variant is more contagious than the original strain, and is possibly more dangerous associated with a higher risk of death.

There are currently 16,275 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the United States, identified in 52 states/jurisdictions, according to the CDC.

11:07 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

White House expanding US community health center vaccinations to "advance equitable distribution" of shots

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House announced that it is expanding vaccinations at community health centers across the country, a move aimed at advancing the distribution of vaccines more equitably.

“To help meet our goal of ensuring Americans have a vaccine site within five miles of where they live and to advance equitable distribution of the vaccine, we're announcing today that we're expanding our Community Health Center vaccine program, so that the nearly 1,400 community health Centers can sign up to receive and administer doses to their patients,” White House senior Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said at Wednesday’s briefing.

This is an increase from the 950 community health centers currently distributing vaccines, which the administration announced during the March 26 Covid briefing.

Slavitt added, “Many community health centers are located in underserved communities, and serve patients that are predominantly either uninsured or underinsured.”

The administration has been directly sending vaccines to community health centers to get vaccines to hard-to-reach communities since earlier this year.

10:24 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

EU regulator: AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh risks and specific risk factors have not confirmed

From Angela Dewan and Samantha Tapfumaneyi

A medical worker prepares to administer a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia, on March 23.
A medical worker prepares to administer a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia, on March 23. Darko Vojinovic/AP

The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee – known as PRAC – "has confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh the risk of side effects," EMA’s Executive Director Emer Cooke said Wednesday at a news conference in Amsterdam.  

"Based on the current available evidence, specific risk factors – such as age, gender or previous medical history" – have not been confirmed as cases are seen in all ages, including men and women, Cooke added.

10:26 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

EU regulator finds "possible link" between AstraZeneca vaccine and "very rare" blood clot cases

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

A nurse prepares a vial of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine at a doctor's office in Deisenhofen, Germany, on March 31.
A nurse prepares a vial of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine at a doctor's office in Deisenhofen, Germany, on March 31. Lennart Preiss/AFP/Getty Images

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Wednesday that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots” but said the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.

“EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) has concluded today that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria (formerly COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca),” the statement said.

“In reaching its conclusion, the committee took into consideration all currently available evidence, including the advice from an ad hoc expert group,” it added.

It continued:

“EMA is reminding healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within 2 weeks of vaccination. So far, most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 years of age within 2 weeks of vaccination. Based on the currently available evidence, specific risk factors have not been confirmed.”
“People who have received the vaccine should seek medical assistance immediately if they develop symptoms of this combination of blood clots and low blood platelets.”
“The PRAC noted that the blood clots occurred in veins in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, CVST) and the abdomen (splanchnic vein thrombosis) and in arteries, together with low levels of blood platelets and sometimes bleeding.”
"The Committee carried out an in-depth review of 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis reported in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of 22 March 2021, 18 of which were fatal.1 The cases came mainly from spontaneous reporting systems of the EEA and the UK, where around 25 million people had received the vaccine.”
10:45 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Experts warn the pandemic is not over despite ramp up of vaccinations. Here's the latest US Covid-19 news.

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A White House official said on Wednesday that the US will be approaching having nearly half of all adults with their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of this weekend.

This comes after White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response Andy Slavitt gave an ambitious timeline to CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night.

"We're on track that by the weekend, half the adults in the country will have had their first shot,” Slavitt said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 41.7% of the population over 18 has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Slavitt warned that "100 million-plus adults still haven't been vaccinated.” 

"They're not there yet, and you don't win the war until you bring everybody over with you,” he added.

President Biden, meanwhile, has moved the deadline for all US adults to be eligible for Covid vaccine to April 19. Speaking at the White House yesterday, Biden said that 150 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered within his first 75 days in office, in line with a stated goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.

Despite those improvements and positive vaccine numbers, the US has a long way to go before reaching herd immunity. Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated 70-85% of the population needs to become immune. And the pace for vaccinating all willing adults varies greatly among states, according to a CNN analysis of federal data.

And though health experts caution the battle against Covid-19 is not yet won, many states have already reopened and others are planning to soon as well.

California plans to fully reopen activities and businesses beginning June 15, as infection rates are failing, hospitalizations are low and vaccinations rising in the state. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott laid out a 90 day reopening plan leading up to July 4. Officials anticipate roughly 70% of Vermont residents will have received at least one vaccine dose by that time.

Meanwhile, the daily rate of new cases has been on the rise over the last four weeks as highly transmissible variants like B.1.1.7. have spread, according to the CDC. In the past week, five states have accounted for about 44% of new Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

There were about 453,000 new cases in the country in the past seven days, New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey reported nearly 198,000 of those cases.

Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Michael Osterholm said that although the states are vaccinating quickly, enough people still haven't been vaccinated to outpace the spread.

I wish we had another 3 or 4 months before this B.1.1.7.variant surge started to occur," Osterholm added.

What will life looks life following vaccination? Experts and officials are debating how to monitor vaccinations once life in the US regains a sense of normalcy.

Read more:

10:00 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

CDC’s ensemble forecast predicts slight slowing of US Covid-19 death rate over next 3 and a half weeks

From CNN's Ben Tinker

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 568,000 to 588,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by May 1.

This represents a slight slowing of the death rate over the next three and a half weeks.

The previous ensemble forecast, published March 31, projected up to 585,000 coronavirus deaths by April 24.

At least 556,548 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

10:31 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Fauci expects some local businesses and institutions will implement vaccine requirements

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on March 18.
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on March 18. Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

While vaccine requirements won’t come from federal government mandates, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would be very surprised if there weren’t local level requirements. 

“I don’t think I could come out and officially say I support it because that’s going to be taken, I think, out of context in some cases,” Fauci said, asked by CBS’s Tony Dokoupil if, from a public health perspective, he supported vaccine requirements for businesses and organizations.

“I can tell you one thing, that there are almost certainly going to be what you just predicted, namely that there are going to be organizations – they could be universities, they could be commercial organizations – which are going to do just what you indicated. They’re going to say we’re not going to have you come in, unless you get vaccinated,” he added.

Fauci made clear that, “You’re not going to see that from a federal government mandate,” but said he would be "surprised if we did not see that at the local level.”