The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021
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6:50 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

NHL abruptly delays team's return to play following Covid-19 outbreak

From CNN's Jacob Lev

An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 31.
An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 31. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP/File

Following a Covid-19 outbreak within the Vancouver Canucks team, the National Hockey League has abruptly delayed the team's scheduled return to the ice.

The league had scheduled the Canucks to play the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, the team's first game since March 24, but has now delayed the return just over 24 hours before the puck was to be dropped.

"The decision to extend the period prior to the team's resumption of play was made to provide Club staff and Players with additional time for recovery and preparation following its recent Covid outbreak," the league's statement on Thursday said. 

Some context: This delay comes a day after Canucks forward J.T. Miller told reporters that he thought it was "dangerous" to be rushed back onto the ice after the team dealt with a Covid-19 outbreak in which at least 21 players tested positive for the virus. 

"We try to talk about the number one priority being the player's health and their families' safety, and it's almost impossible to do what they've asked us to do here on our return," Miller said on Wednesday. 

A date for a return to play has not announced yet, but the league expects it to be released on Friday.

6:48 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Go There: Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your questions about J&J's Covid-19 vaccine

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put off making any decision about the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying they need more information about a rare type of blood clot.

The CDC and US Food and Drug Administration earlier this week recommend the US pause the vaccine after six reported blood clot cases among more than 6.8 million doses of J&J administered in the US.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered your questions about the the J&J vaccine.

Watch:

5:18 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

National Institutes of Health awards up to $33 million to increase Covid-19 testing for students

From CNN's Ashley Ahn

The National Institutes of Health is awarding up to $33 million to fund Covid-19 testing initiatives for students, teachers, and staff so they can return to in-person school.

Funding comes from the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 economic relief package signed into law by President Biden on March 11 and will be distributed over a two-year period to projects at 10 institutions across eight states.

The awards are meant to go to increase at-home and at-school Covid-19 testing access for vulnerable and underserved populations as part of the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program.

“Many children have inequitable access to reliable virtual learning, and it is important they are able to participate safely in person while also maintaining the health and safety of the of the school and general communities,” Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable, director of NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said in a statement. “Establishing frequent COVID-19 testing protocols for schools in vulnerable and underserved communities is essential to the safe return to school effort, and these projects will inform decision makers on the best strategies to accomplish this.”

Participating schools range from public, chartered, special education, and pediatric complex care that serve students in urban, rural and tribal communities.

4:39 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

More than 5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in Georgia

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Georgia Tech employee Adam Jackson receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at a vaccination site on the campus of Georgia Tech on April 8 in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech employee Adam Jackson receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at a vaccination site on the campus of Georgia Tech on April 8 in Atlanta. Danny Karnik/AP

More than 5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Georgia, according to a news release from Gov. Brian Kemp today.

There have been 1 million vaccinations reported in the state in the last 12 days, the release said. 

More than 3.2 million Georgians have received at least one dose, according to the release.

3:51 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

US is making plans just in case the Covid-19 vaccines need a booster, officials say

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the Biden administration’s Covid response, testifies at a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the Biden administration’s Covid response, testifies at a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Amr Alfiky/Pool/Getty Images

The US is making plans just in case Covid-19 vaccines need booster doses later, officials told a congressional hearing Thursday.

“We are planning for potential booster doses of vaccines, if they are needed,” Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the Biden administration’s Covid response, told a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “As with other vaccines, a subsequent dose may be desirable.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that there were a few different approaches that could boost the potency of a Covid-19 vaccine.

One is to create a booster that would strengthen the original vaccine and would be strong enough to protect against variants. The other is to make a booster that would work against particular variants. While the variant first found in South Africa, known as B.1.351, is not dominant in the US, it theoretically could be a bigger problem for the existing vaccines, and vaccine makers could target that particular variant.

“The problem with that, is, that if you get more and more variants, that's almost like playing Whack-a -mole,” Fauci said.

“You hit this one, then you go to the other one, you go to the other one, and that's the reason why, what we're putting a lot of effort in, is to try and get a more universal vaccine that would cover all different types of variants. That's the ultimate end game,” Fauci said.

He added that research is already underway. Until then, scientists are trying to figure out what the most dangerous variant is and to make a special boost against that.

2:51 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

More than 30% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at CIELO, an Indigenous rights organization, on April 10 in Los Angeles.
A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at CIELO, an Indigenous rights organization, on April 10 in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

About 198 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The CDC reported that 198,317,040 total doses have been administered, about 78% of the 255,400,665 doses delivered. 

That’s about 3.5 million more doses reported administered since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 3.3 million doses per day. 

More than 30% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated, and about 48% of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine. Among seniors, about 64% are fully vaccinated and 80% have received at least one dose.

Overall, about 78.5 million people in the US are fully vaccinated and nearly 126 million people have received at least one dose, according to CDC data. 

Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported. 

 

2:44 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Third vaccine dose likely needed within 6 to 12 months, Pfizer CEO says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas and Amanda Sealy

Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer pharmaceutical company, is seen at the New York Stock Exchange on January 17, 2019, in New York City.
Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer pharmaceutical company, is seen at the New York Stock Exchange on January 17, 2019, in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

People are likely to need a booster dose of vaccine six to 12 months after their first round, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said.

Real-world data shows the Pfizer vaccine is effective against a worrying variant of coronavirus first seen in South Africa, called B.1.351, Bourla said during a CVS Health Live event posted to Facebook Thursday. “Protection goes down by time but still in six months it’s still extremely, extremely high,” he said.

“If you ask me, I think that there will be a need, based on these data, for revaccinations,” Bourla added. 

Bourla said it remains to be seen how often this would have to happen, but “a likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual re-vaccination. But all this needs to be confirmed.”

“In pandemics, you are as protected as your neighbor,” Bourla said. He said that’s why it’s important that all countries get their citizens vaccinated.

2:40 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Global governments and partners pledge $400 million to COVAX vaccine program

From CNN’s Will Godley and Chris Liakos

Airport employees push a cart carrying a shipment of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccines at the Pristina International Airport on March 28.
Airport employees push a cart carrying a shipment of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccines at the Pristina International Airport on March 28. AFP/Getty Images

A new campaign to raise $2 billion for the global fight against Covid-19 was launched today at an event hosted by the United States and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Gavi have set a deadline of June for this additional round of funding, which would enable them to finance a total of 1.8 billion doses of COVAX Covid-19 vaccines for 92 lower-income countries by the end of the year.

COVAX is a program is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of coronavirus vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

At the event, governments and private sector partners made early pledges worth nearly $400 million and committed to donate millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses to COVAX to benefit the most vulnerable, according to the news release.

It includes commitments by Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Visa Foundation among others. Google also announced a commitment to donate $2.5 million to COVAX and $15 million in Ad credits to Gavi. New Zealand said it would donate 1.6 million vaccine doses to COVAX, with a focus on the Pacific region.

Speaking at the event, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley warned that the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines is “ incredibly tight right now.” He said it is unlikely COVAX will be able to secure “more supply in 2021 beyond the doses that we have reserved,” calling on countries with excess supply to share spare vaccine doses with COVAX.

At the same event, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot admitted the company has had bumps in the road. “It’s been not only an R&D challenge but also a manufacturing challenge,” he said adding that “manufacturing is ramping up very quickly now.”

1:41 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Fauci: "Hopefully, we'll get a decision quite soon" on J&J Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Amr Alfiky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Amr Alfiky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday he hopes there will be a quick decision about when, and if, the country should proceed with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a decision quite soon as to whether or not we can get back on track with this very effective vaccine,” Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Congressional hearing.

Fauci said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended the pause in the administration of the vaccine after what he called a “really quite devastating complication” in a “relatively small number” of people.

There have been six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot among more than 6.8 million Americans who got the shot. A day later, advisers to the CDC put off making any decision about recommendations for the vaccine, with members of the group saying they need more information.

“Even though it is a very low level, when you look at it, the number as of now, would be like less than one per million,” Fauci told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “They did it out of an abundance of caution.”

The pause in the J&J vaccine, he said, gives public health officials a chance to make sure there are no other unreported cases and it will alert doctors to be on the lookout for these cases.