April 20 coronavirus news

By Sophie Jeong, Kara Fox and Nicholas Pearce, CNN

Updated 2:40 AM ET, Wed April 21, 2021
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2:39 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Netherlands announces easing of restrictions starting April 28

From CNN’s Mick Krever 

The market around Middelburg Town Hall is seen empty in Middelburg, Netherlands, on April 10.
The market around Middelburg Town Hall is seen empty in Middelburg, Netherlands, on April 10. Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A national nightly curfew in the Netherlands, designed to reduce social contact, will end at 4:30 a.m. local on April 28, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced, alongside other measures.

The curfew has been in place since Jan. 23. It currently runs from 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. local – it originally started at 9 p.m. Though the Netherlands remains in a precarious position, Rutte told a news conference Tuesday that “we dare to take this first step.”

“A step that is still very cautious and careful,” he said. “Because we can allow very little disappointment, because it is still all hands on deck for the healthcare, and that will remain the case for the time being. Again, a balancing act.”

Rutte announced six measures that will take effect on April 28, the first major step in reopening the country:

  1. The nightly curfew will end at 4:30 a.m. local on Wed. April 28.
  2. Home visits will increase from one to two people per day.
  3. Restaurants and cafés will be able to serve outdoors from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. local. (They are currently take-away only.) Maximum 50 people per terrace, and maximum two people per table, unless they are from the same household.
  4. No more appointments are necessary to visit non-essential stores, but with stringent capacity restrictions: Two clients per floor in small stores, and one client per 25 square meters in large stores.
  5. Starting on April 26, students in higher education can attend in person instruction one day per week.
  6. Maximum attendance at funerals goes from 50 to 100, and driving theory exams can resume.

2:30 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Thousands of Canada's essential workers will be vaccinated in North Dakota 

 From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba announced Tuesday that the state would begin vaccinating as many as 4,000 of Canada’s essential workers, mainly cross-border truck drivers, as early as Wednesday.

“The US has got a lot of vaccine and Canada’s got less so this is an opportunity for us to work together starting with essential workers,” said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum during a joint news conference with Manitoba’s premier Brian Pallister. 

The leaders described it as a "continental first" hoping that it will eventually help reopen the US-Canada border more quickly in the months to come. 

Canada announced Tuesday that its border with the US will remain closed to all non-essential travel until at least May 21. The border has been under travel restrictions for more than a year.

“Beginning tomorrow the state of North Dakota will provide COVID-19 vaccines to fully immunize Manitoba based truck drivers during their routine trips to the United states and over the next 6-8 weeks conclude with the second vaccine and they will be doing that thanks to the government of the United States of America, free of charge and we say thank you,” said Pallister.

Burgum said that more than 50% of North Dakotans have already received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and with more doses on the way, this was a good opportunity to be a "good neighbor."

Pallister said he hoped this would lead to more US-Canada cooperation and that others across the country would emulate this program.

2:27 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

White House tells governors 28 million vaccine doses going out this week

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Syringes filled with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine lay on a table at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center in the Staten Island, New York, on April 16.
Syringes filled with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine lay on a table at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center in the Staten Island, New York, on April 16. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The White House informed governors during their weekly call Tuesday that 28 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines will be allocated this week.

“This morning, our Covid coordinator, Jeff Zients, had his weekly call with governors. He announced that this week, 28 million doses will go out across channels with the vast majority going to jurisdictions,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“This is consistent with last week's allocation. He also reminded the governor said there's a significant amount of vaccine supply in the system, and the federal government stands ready to help states put shots in arms as quickly as possible," she added.

Last week’s allocation was also 28 million doses, which was down from previous weeks. The week before, 33 million doses went out across all channels.

The White House said uneven supply was to be expected, with CNN’s Maggie Fox noting that uneven production is to be expected in these particular types of vaccines that are grown in batches in bioreactors. It’s like brewing beer – the process is not exact.

12:46 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Johnson & Johnson will resume shipments of its Covid-19 vaccine to European Union, Norway and Iceland

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it will resume shipments of its Covid-19 vaccine to the European Union, Norway and Iceland after the European Medicines Agency said the overall benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. 

The company said in a statement it will update its Covid-19 vaccine Summary of Product Characteristics and Packaging Leaflet to include information about how to diagnose and manage rare blood clots, according to a statement from the company on Tuesday. The European Medicines Agency found a possible link between rare blood clots and the vaccine, and said the vaccine must include a warning of “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets” as “very rare side effects” for use in the EU. 

The company said it will continue to alert health care professionals about the signs and symptoms of thromboembolism with thrombocytopenia, and will give advice on how to treat it.  

“The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority. We appreciate the rigorous review of the PRAC and share the goal of raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of this very rare event to ensure the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson in a company statement. “We strongly believe in the positive benefits of our single-shot, easily transportable COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the health of people everywhere and reach communities in need globally. We are committed to equitable access and to bringing an affordable COVID-19 vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Food and Drug Administration last week recommended a pause on administration of the vaccine in the United States after six reports of rare blood clots among people who had the vaccine. Johnson & Johnson then voluntarily delayed the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Europe.

11:46 a.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Sweden will give different second vaccine dose to people under 65 who had first dose of AstraZeneca

From CNN’s Chloé Adam

Syringes are loaded with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine at the Skane University Hospital vaccination center in Malmo, Sweden, on February 17.
Syringes are loaded with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine at the Skane University Hospital vaccination center in Malmo, Sweden, on February 17. Johan Nilsson/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images

People under the age of 65 in Sweden who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be given a different vaccine for their second dose, with a so-called mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer/Biontech or Moderna, the Swedish Health Agency announced on Tuesday.

“In view of the very rare but serious side effect reported after vaccination with Vaxzevria [the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine], the Swedish Public Health Agency considers that the vaccine cannot be generally recommended for persons under 65 years of age,” a Swedish Health Agency spokesperson said in a phone call to CNN, following a statement issued by the agency

The Swedish Public Health Agency said both it, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA,) considered AstraZeneca to be effective in preventing Covid-19 disease and reducing serious illness and death, and will continue to use it to vaccinate people over the age of 65 years old.

Sweden paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March after reports of rare blood clots among people vaccinated with the shot.

A mix and match trial was expanded in the UK last week to examine whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used for two-dose regimens, with results expected by summer 2021.

12:22 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

EU regulator finds possible link of rare blood clots to J&J vaccine but says benefits outweigh risks

From CNN's Chris Liakos and Lindsay Isaac

Boxes of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen in Europe, are pictured in a warehouse in Budapest, Hungary, on April 13.
Boxes of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen in Europe, are pictured in a warehouse in Budapest, Hungary, on April 13. Szilard Koszticsak/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has found a possible link between rare blood clots and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, but says the overall benefits of getting the shot outweigh the risks. 

The agency’s safety committee on Tuesday said that after reviewing all current available information, the vaccine must include a warning over “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets” as “very rare side effects” for use in the European Union. 

Administration of J&J’s Janssen vaccine was stopped in the EU and paused in the US last week after reports of cases of a "rare and severe" type of blood clot.

“The cases reviewed were very similar to the cases that occurred with the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, Vaxzevria,” the EMA said in a statement.

The warning should make the possible side effects clear so people can recognize the symptoms and seek medical advice promptly, it added.

10:34 a.m. ET, April 20, 2021

100% of ICU beds now occupied in Iran's capital as coronavirus cases surge

From CNN's Ramin Mostaghim

Intensive care unit beds in the Iranian capital of Tehran are at 100% capacity, as a coronavirus surge takes a toll on one of the worst hit countries in the Middle East, a health official told Iranian semi-official news agencies. 

At least 100 hospitals in Tehran are only admitting coronavirus patients, the deputy health minister, Nader Tavakkoli told semi-official news agency ISNA.

"Patients with low-risk diseases or non-urgent operation needs will not be admitted at present," he said. 

Over the past week, the country have been reporting record-breaking daily cases with numbers almost quadrupling since January and tripling since last month. 

10:53 a.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Johnson & Johnson stands by “positive benefit/risk profile” of its Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A pharmacist volunteer prepares doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a pop-up clinic  in Detroit, Michigan, on April 12.
A pharmacist volunteer prepares doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a pop-up clinic in Detroit, Michigan, on April 12. Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson believes that the benefits of its coronavirus vaccine outweigh the risks, Dr. Paul Stoffels, the company's chief scientific officer, said during an earnings call on Tuesday morning. 

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended pausing the use of the J&J Covid-19 vaccine over six reported US cases of "a rare and severe type of blood clot” out of almost seven million doses administered.

"We continue to believe in the positive benefit/risk profile of our vaccine and in view of the raging pandemic that continues to devastate communities around the world, continue to collaborate with medical experts and global health authorities – including the CDC, FDA, EMA, the WHO and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, SAHPRA – as we work towards continuing vaccination to end the global pandemic," Stoffels said.

Stoffels said the company looks forward to a second meeting of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee (ACIP) on Immunization Practices this Friday to discuss the J&J vaccine and a potential risk of blood clots.

ACIP met last week and is scheduled to reconvene on Friday to discuss recommendations for the J&J vaccine.

"Johnson & Johnson made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe and pause vaccinations in all Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials while we updated guidance for investigators and participants," Stoffels said.

"The safety and well-being of the people who use our product is our number one priority and we strongly support awareness of the signs and symptoms of this extremely rare event to ensure the correct diagnosis, appropriate treatment and expedited report by health care professionals.

10:16 a.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Mexican president will livestream getting vaccinated to reassure the country of its safety

From CNN’s Karol Suarez

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives to give his daily, morning news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City on Tuesday, April 20.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives to give his daily, morning news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City on Tuesday, April 20. Fernando Llano/AP

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at his morning news conference that he will get vaccinated at the end of the conference, and it will be streamed live for the country to watch, reassuring the public of the vaccine’s safety.

“At the end of the presser, once Q&A’s are done, I’ll get vaccinated, here in front of you, so all the country can watch. I’ll get vaccinated because I want to make a call to the elderly, those that aren’t getting the vaccine, for any reason they have. To tell you that we’re sure there’s no risk at all. No danger. No adverse reactions,” he said today.

He said he wanted to assure people they are “following all the studies being made worldwide to guarantee the people’s safety,” 

“I want to say that nothing is forced; as free people, we have to exercise our freedom, convince, persuade, but never impose. If they decide not to get the vaccine, they are free; they have their rights. However, we have an obligation to inform that it’s vital to protect ourselves against the pandemic," the president added.

López Obrador said earlier this month he would get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Yesterday he announced he would get his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine today.