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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8:57 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Here’s a quick recap of where we’re at on the AstraZeneca vaccine

From CNN's Luke McGee

A nurse prepares the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Deisenhofen, Germany, on March 31.
A nurse prepares the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Deisenhofen, Germany, on March 31. Lennart Preiss/AFP/Getty Images

The events of the past 24 hours have left many worried and unsure of exactly how safe the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is.

A quick recap:

After days of speculative media coverage, European drug regulators on Wednesday confirmed a possible link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, and UK authorities recommended that people under 30 should take alternative vaccines.

While the European Medicines Agency and its British counterpart acknowledged that growing evidence pointed to a link, they both emphasized that the chances of clots were on balance still very low and that the vaccine was still very effective at preventing Covid-19.

The EMA’s decision was based on 18 deaths in 62 cases of clotting in the sinuses that drain blood from the brain and 24 cases of clotting in the abdomen. The cases were reported in an EU database from European countries, including the UK, where around 25 million people have had the vaccine.

The European regulator advised that the vaccine still be used as normal, while the UK advised that people under the age of 30 should receive a different vaccine. The reason for this is that as the age group gets younger, the chances of serious illness or death from Covid-19 lessens, meaning the margin between the benefits and the risks narrows. 

The British government is already fighting back in the hope that Wednesday’s news won’t lead to vaccine hesitancy. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to reassure Britons this morning that the vaccine rollout was proceeding “in the safest way possible.”

“Be reassured by the fact that we're taking an abundance of caution,” Hancock told Sky News Thursday. “All three vaccines that are in use in the UK are safe, and they're safe at all ages. But there is a preference for the under-30s, if they want to have the Pfizer or Moderna jab instead.” 

The Daily Telegraph newspaper even found and spoke to the family of a man who died from a blood clot after having the vaccine, saying that they still believe people should take the jab when given the chance.

This story, of course, has implications beyond the UK, and developments in the coming days will be very important in the global fight against coronavirus. Many developing countries are depending on the AstraZeneca vaccine as a way out of the pandemic.

5:42 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Germany will talk with Moscow about buying Sputnik vaccine

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin and Lindsay Isaac in London

Packages contain a component of the Gam-COVID-Vac Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, in Moscow on March 17.
Packages contain a component of the Gam-COVID-Vac Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, in Moscow on March 17. Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Getty Images

Germany plans to speak to Russia about acquiring doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, if it is approved by EU regulators. In an interview with German public radio WDR5 on Thursday, Health Minister Jens Spahn, said he has notified the EU that Berlin will “bilaterally talk to Russia,“ after the bloc made it clear it will not sign a contract to procure Sputnik shots.

Possibly talking down the significance of the talks, Spahn said that "first of all we will talk about when what quantities could even be delivered ... in the 4th quarter or even 2022 we could possibly still have a need for Sputnik V, but in order to actually make a difference in our current situation the delivery would have to come in the next 2-5 months. Otherwise we will already have enough vaccine anyway.” Spahn said. 

The EU's sluggish vaccine rollout has handed Russia the opportunity for a PR coup, which Moscow has grasped with both hands, much to the annoyance of EU allies.

The German state of Bavaria said on Wednesday it would independently buy 2.5 million doses of Sputnik V, as soon as it is approved by the European Union’s drug regulator.

5:34 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

French Open pushed back by a week to welcome more fans

From CNN's Aleks Klosok in London

This year's French Open tennis tournament has been postponed by a week due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said on Thursday.

The French Tennis Federation said it would "improve the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans."

Roland-Garros, the second Grand Slam of the year, was initally scheduled to take place from Monday 17 May – Sunday 6 June.

The qualifying rounds for the clay court event will now be held from Monday 24 – Friday 28 May and will be followed by the main draw, from Sunday 30 May – Sunday 13 June.

France has recently entered a new lockdown with a series new national restrictions in place as the country fights rising Covid cases.

In a speech on 31 March, French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped cultural and sporting events would be back up and running from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation.

The FFT said in a statement “in this context, it appeared that postponing the tournament by one week would be the best solution.” 

The qualifying rounds for the clay court event will now be held from Monday 24 – Friday 28 May and will be followed by the main draw, from Sunday 30 May – Sunday 13 June.

“For the fans, the players and the atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament, the spring’s most important international sporting event,” FFT President Gilles Moretton added.

Last year, Roland-Garros was played in the fall: The 2020 edition of the French open was postponed by four months due to rising infections in France. It eventually took place at the end of September in front of limited crowds.

Rafael Nadal sealed his record-extending 13th men's singles title while Polish teenager Iga Swiatek won her first Grand Slam title.

8:57 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

UK vaccination program proceeding in "safest way possible" Health Secretary says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Robert Iddiols in London

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock holds a news conference at 10 Downing Street in London, on March 17.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock holds a news conference at 10 Downing Street in London, on March 17. Hannah McKay/WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to reassure Britons that the country's vaccine rollout was proceeding “in the safest way possible”.

In an interview with SkyNews, Hancock said the UK was "taking an abundance of caution" regarding the disputed Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

"We are making sure that we're rolling this out in the safest way possible," he added. 

European and British medicines regulators announced on Wednesday a “possible link” between the vaccine and rare cases of blood clots. 

“We're totally transparent with all of the side effects,” Hancock told SkyNews, “no matter how extremely rare they are.” 

“All three vaccines that are in use in the UK are safe, and they're safe at all ages,” Hancock added. “But there is a preference for the under 30s, if they want to have the Pfizer or Moderna jab instead.” 

Despite the change, Hancock claimed the UK’s vaccine rollout “is proceeding well” and was not affected by Wednesday’s decision. 

“We are seeing that the vaccine is working. It's breaking the link between cases and deaths," Hancock said. “We are on track to hit the target we have set, to ensure everyone in the UK is offered the jab by the end of July.”  

Some context on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine: After the UK's drug regulator confirmed links between the vaccine and rare occurence of blood clots on Wednesday, officials said those who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca should receive a second dose from the same brand. People under the age of 30 will be offered an alternative. 

Approximately one in ten adults in the UK have received both doses of a Covid vaccine. 

2:34 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

India reports more than 126,000 new Covid-19 cases in another record high

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a man to test for Covid-19 at a government hospital in Hyderabad, India, on April 6.
A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a man to test for Covid-19 at a government hospital in Hyderabad, India, on April 6. Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

India on Thursday reported 126,789 new cases of coronavirus, the highest single-day rise in infections since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

This is the second consecutive day the country has reported an all-time high of new cases. 

India is amid a second wave of the pandemic following the previous peak in cases in September last year. 

Maharashtra state continues to report the highest deaths and cases in the country, according to health minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday, and several other states have also seen an "upswing" in cases, health officials said Tuesday.

Vaccine shortages: Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab state health officials said they're facing a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines.

Odisha state officials wrote a letter to the central government Wednesday expressing concern over the shortage saying: "Due to shortage of vaccine, we have had to close nearly 700 vaccination centres in the state," adding that the state would exhaust its currently available stock by April 9.

Maharashtra's health minister said on Wednesday the state was also facing a shortage. In response, Indian Health Minister Vardhan said in a statement: "this is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government’s repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic."

Punjab state health officials told CNN Thursday it is also facing a shortage of vaccines.

2:35 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

New Zealand temporarily bans entry for travelers from India 

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 6.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 6. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand will temporarily ban entry to travelers from India following a record surge in Covid-19 cases in recent days in the Asian country.

Speaking in a news conference Thursday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the suspension would begin at 4 p.m. on April 11 and would last until April 28. 

"I want to emphasize that while arrivals with Covid from India has prompted this measure, we are looking at how we manage high risk points of departure generally. This is not a country specific risk assessment, but of course a risk assessment generally to ensure we better manage the number of cases that are coming in from those countries that are experiencing a surge," Ardern said.

India is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus and reported a record 126,789 new cases on Thursday -- its highest single-day rise of the pandemic. 

2:36 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Brazil temporarily suspends production of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine due to delivery delay

From Journalists Marcia Reverdosa and Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo

A nurse prepares a dose of China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, on March 31.
A nurse prepares a dose of China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, on March 31. Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil’s Butantan research institute has temporarily suspended production of the Sinovac CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine due to a delay of the delivery of raw materials from China, three sources directly connected to the matter told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil Wednesday.

A new shipment of raw materials -- the so called IFA (Active Pharmaceutical Input) ingredient -- scheduled to arrive in Brazil from China on April 9, has now been pushed to April 15, Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria said Wednesday during a news conference.

When CNN inquired about the reported suspension of Sinovac’s vaccine production at the Butantan Institute in the state of Sao Paulo, the research center denied the claim but confirmed that it will not produce any new vaccines until the raw materials arrive.

"We didn't suspend production. We are in the process of finalizing the packaging of the material we had previously received. As soon as we receive more raw material we can continue with the process and deliver the missing remaining doses,” Butantan’s press office told CNN Wednesday, adding that “despite the delay” it will meet the contractual deadlines with the country’s health ministry.

The Butantan Institute has delivered 40.7 million out of the 46 million Covid-19 doses promised to be delivered by April 30. The Institute says it will deliver an additional 2.5 million doses next week and told CNN it anticipates the production of Covid-19 vaccines to resume by April 15.

The Covid-19 vaccine raw material (IFA) is supplied by Butantan's Chinese partner Sinovac Biotech. The delay in shipping was caused by the increased campaign of China’s vaccines, according to CNN Brasil.

CNN has reached out to Sinovac Biotech and has not yet received a response.

2:37 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Fauci explains the rise in Covid-19 cases among younger people

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 18.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 18. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci explained Wednesday why the United States is now seeing more Covid-19 cases among younger people.

It’s in part because so many older people are vaccinated, he said, and also because of spread in day care centers and at school sporting events.

“When you look at the entire population, there’s relatively more protection among older individuals as opposed to younger individuals,” Fauci told CNN.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that more than 75% of people ages 65 years and older have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine in the US.

He said a number of factors are at play, including clusters of cases in day cares and school sports teams -- in which people are in close contact and sometimes aren’t wearing masks -- and the B.1.1.7 variant.

“I think that is what is explaining these surges of cases in young individuals,” he said.