April 8 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Martin Goillandeau, Luke McGee, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 3:19 AM ET, Fri April 9, 2021
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2:14 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Allocations of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine expected to drop 84% next week, data shows

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A medical worker with Northwell Health holds up doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the Northwell Health pop-up coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Staten Island on April 08, 2021 in New York City. 
A medical worker with Northwell Health holds up doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the Northwell Health pop-up coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Staten Island on April 08, 2021 in New York City.  Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The number of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine shots allocated to states and other jurisdictions by the federal government is expected to drop 84% next week, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This week, nearly 5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were allocated to states and other jurisdictions, but only about 785,000 are slated for next week.

Allocations of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for next week, however, will remain steady compared to this week. About 4.7 million first doses of Pfizer and 3.5 million first doses of Moderna have been allocated for next week, along with corresponding second doses.

Allocations of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been largely consistent week to week. However, weekly allocations of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have varied widely. 

According to data from the CDC, the first allocation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – for the week of March 1 – included more than 2.8 million doses. There are no allocations of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine logged for the week of March 8, and allocations dropped to less than 500,000 doses for the two following weeks. Then, for the week of March 29, allocations jumped to nearly 2 million, before more than doubling for this week.

Here are the total allocations for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to states and other jurisdictions each week, according to data from the CDC: 

  • Week of March 1: 2,833,400
  • Week of March 8: none
  • Week of March 15: 493,700
  • Week of March 22: 389,900
  • Week of March 29: 1,911,200
  • Week of April 5: 4,947,500
  • Week of April 12: 785,500

About 4.5 million people have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, accounting for about 7% of people who are fully vaccinated in the US, according to the latest data from the CDC.

2:06 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

African Union drops plans to buy additional AstraZeneca vaccine from India's Serum Institute

From CNN's James Frater

Vials of AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at a filling lab at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
Vials of AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at a filling lab at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Rafiq Maqbool/AP

The African Union has announced it is dropping plans to buy additional doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine directly from the Serum Institute of India and will instead focus on securing further vaccines from Johnson & Johnson. 

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC), said the decision was not related to recent safety concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine but “because we work very closely with COVAX,” the vaccine-sharing facility for the world’s poorest countries.

Addressing a virtual news briefing from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia Thursday, Nkengasong explained the pivot to Johnson & Johnson was to ensure, the “Indian Serum Institute was enabled to be able to supply doses to the COVAX mechanism.”  

“It was just a clear understanding of how not to duplicate efforts with the Serum Institute, so that we complement each other rather than duplicate efforts,” he added.

Last week, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) signed an Advance Purchase Agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 220 million doses on behalf of the 55 member states of the African Union (AU).

Nkengasong said he hoped the vaccines would “begin to be available at the beginning of the third quarter.”

The AU will now explore options of securing an additional 180 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said.

“Given that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single dose, that means we have the ability – if those vaccines are picked up by countries – to immunize 400 million people on the continent,” he said. 

The AU's decision comes a day after EU regulator European Medicines Agency (EMA) found that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots.”

However Nkengasong said, “this (AstraZeneca) vaccine continues to be safe. We will still recommend that the vaccines be used.” He also reiterated the findings of the EMA saying, “the recommendation still stands that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweighs the risk of the unusual and rare side effects of the vaccine.”

Nkengasong confirmed that “a total 33.8 million vaccine doses have been acquired by Member States, with approximately 12.9 million doses administered” so far.  

He welcomed the news that “Seychelles and Mauritius have received enough COVID vaccine doses to reach 20% target vaccination benchmark, which was what the COVAX facility promised.”

“I think every little step and progress that we observe in the continent is good progress” and “it's always good to highlight those success stories,” he added.

12:26 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Fauci says Brazil should "seriously think and consider" new restrictive measures amid Covid-19 surge

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso and Radina Gigova

A hospital worker prays as health workers from the Portuguese charity hospital in Belem, Para State, Brazil, sing and pray for colleagues and COVID-19 patients inside the hospital wards and ICU areas as part of Easter celebrations, on April 4, 2021.
A hospital worker prays as health workers from the Portuguese charity hospital in Belem, Para State, Brazil, sing and pray for colleagues and COVID-19 patients inside the hospital wards and ICU areas as part of Easter celebrations, on April 4, 2021. Tarso Sarraf/AFP/Getty Images

As coronavirus cases in Brazil continue to surge at alarming rates and vaccine rollout has been slow at best, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the adoption of restrictive measures against the virus could help curb its spread. 

“You don't have to do a lockdown without a date to finish, but if you restrict circulation and ensure that everyone wears a mask, you won't have people meeting in closed environments like in restaurants and bars, and that reduces the number of cases,” Fauci said in a BBC Brasil interview. 

Fauci's comments come as Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro continues to oppose lockdowns and restrictive measures, and criticizes governors and mayors with insulting language for implementing them.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro once again told supporters that a national lockdown is out of the question, although the country registered a record 4,195 Covid-19 deaths the previous day. 

"Public health restrictions are crucial to gain control over epidemics,” Fauci said.

“We have seen in many other countries where there have been a large number of cases that, when public health measures were implemented, the number of cases has dropped dramatically," he continued. "So, this is one of the things that Brazil should seriously think about and consider given the very difficult period that it is going through.”

Why Fauci is making those remarks: The Covid-19 P1 variant, first founded in Brazil, is causing a rise in cases in neighboring countries, including Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, and Argentina. It's also causing a sharp rise in hospitalizations. Intensive care occupancy rates in most Brazilian states are at or above 80% and some local healthcare systems have already collapsed. 

Fauci said he preferrers not to refer to Brazil as a “global threat,” a term used by foreign and Brazilian media to describe the ongoing crisis in the country, but said “there is no doubt that severe public health measures, including lockdowns, have been very successful.”

“I am not going to make a statement that Brazil is a threat, because that could be taken out of context and would be an unfortunate phrase. What I am saying is that Brazil is in a serious situation that is spreading to other countries in South America, which is unfortunate.” Vaccinations, especially in Brazil, should be conducted "as soon as possible," he added. 

12:01 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Man held in custody after failed bomb attempt on Netherlands vaccine center

From CNN’s Chloe Adams and Vasco Cotovio

A man is being held in custody in the Netherlands after plotting to blow up a vaccine center, a spokesperson for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) told CNN on Thursday. 

Police arrested the 37-year-old man on March 18 on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack on the former town hall of Den Helder on the Drs. F. Bijlweg. The building has been in use as a coronavirus vaccination center since March 8.

The police investigation so far has revealed the suspect, from Den Helder in North Holland, intended to cause an explosion with a firework bomb, according to the Public Prosecution Service, which classified the actions as an act of terror.

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, OM said the suspect tried to sabotage a crucial government process, namely the nationally coordinated vaccination program, in an "extremely violent way." 

"This has also put public health at risk, the fewer people that can be vaccinated, the more victims the virus will make."
"With his actions, the suspect intended to terrify the population and to disrupt the economic and social structures of the country." OM said, adding “To sabotage the country’s coordinated vaccination program is a very severe crime.” 

The man has been detained since his arrest and will be remanded in custody for at least 90 days while police gathered more information, the spokesperson said. He will appear later for trial.

An investigation is also being carried out into possible co-suspects.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated the man had been found guilty. A verdict has not yet been made in the case.

12:26 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

EU on track for herd immunity by mid-July, EU vaccine chief says

From CNN's Rob North

The European Union's vaccine chief Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on March 17.
The European Union's vaccine chief Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on March 17. John Thys/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union is on track for herd immunity by mid-July, the EU’s vaccine chief Thierry Breton told CNN.

“We now have 53 factories, seven days a week, and I will tell you today, that we will deliver the number of doses which will be necessary to achieve 70% of the population being vaccinated by mid-July.”

He insisted the EU was working extremely hard to make this happen and said it was possible. Once the doses are produced, it is up to each member state to administer the vaccines, Breton said, adding that he was in contact with all EU countries who are “doing the right things” to make sure people will get vaccinated.

Breton said he had confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it is a “good vaccine,” adding, it’s “extremely important that all of our fellow citizens understand that we are extremely cautious…and when we give it (a vaccine) the green light, we can go.”

Asked whether the EU would use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, he said approval was in the hands of European medical regulators. But he said even if it was approved, it wouldn’t change the situation in Europe immediately.

“Our citizens believed maybe at the beginning that you order and you get, the following day, the vaccine. No it doesn’t happen like that, you need at least 10 to 12 months to transform the facility to adapt to the vaccine. When it will be approved, you will need maybe another 10 months,” he explained.

Watch Thierry Breton's full interview on CNN's First Move with Julia Chatterley here:

10:00 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Chile authorizes 1.8 million doses of CanSino vaccine 

From CNN's Florencia Trucco and Jaide Garcia

Chile's Institute of Public Health authorized the emergency use of the new CanSino Biologics vaccine on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Health Ministry.

President Sebastián Piñera highlighted the need for the acquisition of 1.8 million single doses from the Chinese-Canadian laboratory CanSino, and said the vaccinations would take place between April and May.   

"If we all give the best of ourselves and act with a united spirit, a willingness to collaborate and a sense of urgency, we can avoid this tragic dilemma," the President said. 

Chile already uses vaccines from Sinovac, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca. It has vaccinated 7,111,354 people so far, of which 4,192,320 have received the complete dosage.

There have been 1,043,022 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 23,796 deaths associated with the disease, according to the latest figures by Chilean health authorities. 

9:52 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

French government seeing "encouraging signs" after partial lockdown, but hospitalizations still on the rise

CNN’s Antonella Francini in Paris

A person walks through an empty street after curfew in Marseille, France, on April 2.
A person walks through an empty street after curfew in Marseille, France, on April 2. Daniel Cole/AP

France is beginning to see encouraging signs after the latest lockdown measures aimed at curbing the surge in Covid-19 infections, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Thursday during his weekly press conference.  

“We have encouraging signs in the 16 departments where we had imposed restrictive measures,” Attal said. “The measures seem to be working.”

The restrictions — extended to the rest of France since Saturday — allow individuals to go outdoors to walk or exercise, but they cannot go further than 10km from their home or travel between regions without a valid reason. There’s also a nationwide curfew at 7 p.m. CET.  

“The virus still circulates strongly”, Attal said. “There are 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the country”.
“More than 31,000 patients are currently hospitalized, including 5,746 in ICU units”, he added. “This figure should continue to increase in the coming days.”

The number of hospitalizations is still on the rise. On Wednesday, the number of people in intensive care units (ICU) with Covid-19 in France reached a new 2021 record of 5,729 people, according to official data. 

The last time France had seen a higher number of patients in ICUs was nearly a year ago on April 19, 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.

According to the Health Ministry, 3,362,472 people have been fully vaccinated in France and 9,797,957 have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

10:09 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar leaves hospital following Covid-19 treatment

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Sachin Tendulkar in Berlin in February 2020.
Sachin Tendulkar in Berlin in February 2020. Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar been released from hospital but will remain in isolation at home following treatment for Covid-19, according to a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Thursday.

In the tweet, Tendulkar wrote: “I have just come home from the hospital and will remain isolated while continuing to rest and recuperate."

 

The 47-year-old was admitted to hospital last week after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was previously quarantining at home after experiencing “mild” symptoms.

Tendulkar retired from professional cricket in 2013 but remains the highest run scorer in Test cricket history and the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries.

 

9:00 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Belgian health minister says "no doubt" AstraZenca is a "good vaccine"

From CNN's James Frater

Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke in Brussels, Belgium, on February 26.
Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke in Brussels, Belgium, on February 26. Isopix/Shutterstock

Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke sought to reassure the country about the AstraZeneca vaccine, following a decision to temporarily pause administering it to those aged 18 to 55.

“There is no doubt about that it is a good vaccine. It protects against the disease,” he said.  But he cautioned that it does have side effects, “like any vaccine.” 

The decision by Belgium to suspend using AstraZeneca came after a finding by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots” but that the benefits of the vaccine continue to out weigh the risks.

"There is no doubt that if you have the choice between vaccination with AstraZeneca or no vaccination, you should get vaccinated immediately with AstraZeneca,” Vandenbroucke emphasized during an interview on VRT Radio 1 Wednesday.

Following the advice of Belgium’s Superior Health Council, Vandenbroucke said the country would now, “use AstraZeneca for the somewhat older people and use the other vaccines earlier for the younger people.”

He added that this was only possible, "Because we have the luxury of choosing from a variety of vaccines and we can spread the risk without impacting our vaccination strategy.”

On the data presented by the EMA to a virtual meeting of European Health Ministers Vandenbroucke said, ���We found that EMA actually still had homework,” adding he was not the only Minister to have raised this concern.

“We are not so happy that the EMA has not taken the analysis a little further, namely what is the best choice between the different vaccines for the different age groups

Last month Belgium had decided to continue its vaccination campaign for all people aged over 18 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while other European countries suspended using the vaccine over blood-clotting concerns pending an investigation by the EMA.

Asked why Belgium had continued when others hadn’t, Vandenbroucke said: "If we had then decided not to use the vaccine anymore, we would have had to turn the campaign upside down. Fortunately we did not do that then, because that would certainly have cost lives.”