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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12:57 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

UK government says AstraZeneca vaccine is "safe" and encourages people to get their second dose

From Natasha Maguder

The UK government said Wednesday that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives” and people who have received a first dose of the vaccine should receive a second dose from the same brand.

Earlier Wednesday, the European and British medicines regulators announced a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of blood clots, with the UK announcing it would offer people under 30 an alternative vaccine.

“As the MHRA – the UK’s independent regulator – and the JCVI have said, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.

“Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their first vaccination,” the spokesperson added.

“The government will follow today’s updated advice, which sets out that, as a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 30 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are eligible.”

12:27 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

CDC director believes decreasing number of daily US Covid-19 deaths is "an impact of vaccination"

From CNN's Ben Tinker

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky speaks during a White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, April 7.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky speaks during a White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, April 7. White House

In response to a question about when the United States can reopen more broadly, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlined the conditions she believes are needed to reach that point alongside the vaccination of the population.

“In the context of vaccination, we still need to have our case counts be really low to stop circulating virus, to stop the emergence of variants, to stop hospitalizations, and ultimately to stop deaths," she said.

“I’m really encouraged about these decreased numbers of deaths that I believe to be an impact of vaccination, especially the vaccination of our elderly communities,” Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing. But, she added, current case counts are “way too high to be thinking that we’ve won this race.”

According to the latest CDC data, 19% of the total US population is now fully vaccinated, with 56% of people age 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

The US is currently averaging 785 daily deaths over the last seven days – down 21% since last week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The country is now averaging 64,766 daily cases over the last seven days – down 3% since last week.

“What we will almost certainly see, as we get more and more proportion of the population vaccinated, is that those case count numbers will come down,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the White House briefing. “But we would not recommend doing anything different until we get well below the level where we are right now.”

12:03 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Study: Pandemic stay-at-home orders caused increased well-being risk to US Black and Hispanic communities

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

The decrease in personal mobility caused by Covid-19 stay-at-home orders was connected to increased well-being risks, particularly in Black and Hispanic communities, new data published Tuesday show. 

For every 10% reduction in mobility through implemented Covid-19 measure, the odds of an individual experiencing unemployment, food insufficiency, mental health problems, and class cancellations increased, according to the research published in the JAMA Network Open. 

Researchers collected data using the Household Pulse Survey, and participants self-reported their experience of different well-being factors in relation to the pandemic. Over one million respondents participated in the study. 

When compared to the risk experienced by high-income White men, low-income Black people faced the greatest risk of these adverse outcomes. Hispanic people and low-income women across all ethnicities also had a higher risk. 

Low-income people overall were at the greatest risk of experiencing all well-being risks, while low-income Black people were at the greatest risk of experiencing almost any of the adverse outcomes. 

Researchers also looked at the risk of defaulting on rent or mortgage, and of inaccessible medical care.

Overall risk of these outcomes did not show the sharp increase observed in other outcomes, but low-income, non-Hispanic White women did experience the largest risk of inaccessible medical care when compared to other groups.

  

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.”