April 28 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Kara Fox, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:08 AM ET, Thu April 29, 2021
20 Posts
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9:28 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

India's PM approves 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators and 500 new oxygen plants during critical shortage

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the procurement of 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators under the Indian Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund as the country grapples with supplies during a devastating second deadly wave of Covid-19.

The PM-CARES Fund was launched by Modi in March 2020 to provide relief for those affected by the pandemic.

The decision was made at a high-level meeting chaired by Modi Wednesday to discuss measures needed to boost oxygen supplies, with Modi instructing officials to prioritize states with the highest number of cases, read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office.

In addition to the earlier-approved 713 oxygen generation plants under the PM-CARES Fund, a further 500 new plants have also been sanctioned, the statement said. These plants will be constructed using technology developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization.

The plants are designed with a capacity of 1,000 liters per minute (LPM) and can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of 5 LPM and charge 195 cylinders per day, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday.

As cases continue to rise, Indian hospitals are dealing with severe oxygen shortages.

India reported 360,960 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a global record in the number of new cases reported in a day, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

The total number of cases now stands at nearly 18 million, including 201,187 deaths.

9:03 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

It's the responsibility of rich countries to help other countries struggling with Covid-19, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci is pictured testifying before a House Select Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on April 15.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci is pictured testifying before a House Select Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on April 15. Amr Alfiky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it’s the responsibility of wealthy countries to help places that do not have the same level of resources or capabilities as they fight Covid-19.

The US has “really revved up their activity in helping out India,” Fauci told the Guardian Australia, adding that the country is sending oxygen, Remdesivir, PPE and other medications there. Soon, vaccine will be sent, too.

“I think that that’s a responsibility that the rich countries need to assume,” Fauci said. “Right now it’s a terrible tragic situation where people are dying because there’s not enough oxygen, where there’s not enough hospital beds. We have to try, looking forward, to get as much equity when it comes to public health issues as we possibly can."

“Because we’re all in this together. It’s an interconnected world. And there are responsibilities that countries have to each other, particularly if you’re a wealthy country and you’re dealing with countries that don’t have the resources or capabilities that you have,” he continued.

Going forward, he said, global health systems need to be upgraded so that issues can be detected sooner. Transparency and communication between countries is also essential, not just in countries like India, but also for the US. 

Fauci said that although the World Health Organization was trying to accelerate support to India using the COVAX Initiative, “we have to do even more than that.” 

“The only way that you’re going to adequately respond to a global pandemic is by having a global response, and a global response means equity throughout the world,” Fauci said. 

“And that’s something that, unfortunately, has not been accomplished. Often when you have diseases in which there is a limited amount of intervention, be it therapeutic or prevention, this is something that all countries that are relatively rich countries or countries that have a higher income have to pay more attention to.”
9:01 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Fauci says India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine found to neutralize variant first detected in India

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

A health worker prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at a vaccination center in Kolkata, India, on April 24.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at a vaccination center in Kolkata, India, on April 24. Sudipta Das/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has been found to neutralize the B1.617 variant, first identified in the South Asian nation.

“This (B1.617 variant) is something where we’re still gaining data on a daily basis but the most recent data, was looking at convalescent sera of Covid-19 cases and people who received the vaccine used in India, the Covaxin. It was found to neutralize the 617 variants,” Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a virtual press briefing by the White House Covid-19 Response Team on Tuesday.

Referring to it as the “troublesome India 617,” he added, “despite the real difficulty that we’re seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote against this.”

Covaxin is 78% effective against coronavirus, according to the data released on April 21 by Bharat Biotech, the company that developed the drug jointly with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 100%, with an impact on reduction in hospitalizations, according to the release. 

The vaccine's clinical trial involved 25,800 participants ages 18 to 98. The efficacy figure is based on an early analysis of 43 Covid-19 cases. Thirty-six cases occurred in participants who got a placebo, compared to seven participants who got the vaccine, according to a news release issued in March

About the vaccine: Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine that has been developed in its entirety in India. In March 2020, following the successful sequencing of the novel coronavirus, the ICMR established a public-private partnership with Bharat Biotech to develop the virus isolate into a vaccine candidate.

At a webinar on April 23, India’s top epidemiological experts acknowledged that correlations exist between the rising prevalence of the B1.617 variant and the recent surge in cases in the country.

“In Maharashtra, we saw it (the variant first identified in India) go up we saw an outbreak, we are seeing it go up in Delhi, we are seeing an outbreak, these are very important epidemiological correlations,” said Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. According to Agrawal, the B1.617 variant was first found in India in December.

Another expert said the surge in the national capital region of Delhi is due to the prevalence of variants, including both the B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and B1.617 variant. 

“We have seen a rise from 28 percent of mutated variants in second week of March...to 50 percent in the last week of March...the surge which we are observing in Delhi, I think it directly correlates with the type of variants which we are observing,” according to Sujeet Singh, director of the National Center for Disease Control.

India reported 360,960 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a global record in the number of new cases reported in a day, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

The total number of cases now stands at 17,997,267, including 201,187 deaths.

9:01 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

US send supplies and aid to India to help with "horrifying" Covid-19 situation

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pictured during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pictured during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15, in Washington, DC. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that the US and CDC are working to send supplies and assistance to India as it faces a “horrifying” situation with Covid-19.

“The situation there is horrifying,” Walensky told said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “Our hearts go out to the entire country as they’re battling this. We’ve been there before.” 

Walensky said that CDC has had a very close relationship with infectious disease experts with the Ministry of Health in India and that CDC is deploying a strike team this week to assist.

They are also working to send over around 500 canisters of oxygen as a start and working to send supplies as soon as possible. 

8:55 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

England study suggests single dose of coronavirus vaccines can cut household transmission in half

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London

A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center set up at the East London Mosque, in London, on April 14.
A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center set up at the East London Mosque, in London, on April 14. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

A new study by Public Health England (PHE) suggests that a single dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine can reduce transmission by up to half. 

The PHE study, posted Wednesday, looked at more than half a million households and found that contacts had “lower odds of being secondary cases if the index case was vaccinated 14 days or more before testing positive.” 

The study from the PHE — an executive agency of the UK Department of Health tasked with protecting and improving health — has not been peer-reviewed or published.

The study says that, compared to no vaccination, the likelihood of household transmission was 40% to 50% lower for households in which the index cases are vaccinated 21 days or more before testing positive.

The effects were similar for both the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, it said.

However, the protective effect sharply decreases if the vaccination date was closer to the positive test date, the study says.

In all the households, the majority of the initial Covid-19 cases were under the age of 60; in unvaccinated households, there was a high proportion of people age younger than 40.

The PHE study also reported that:

  • In households where the index case was not vaccinated before testing positive, there were 96,898 secondary cases out of 960,765 household contacts (10.1%).
  • There were 196 secondary cases in 3,424 contacts (5.72%) where the index case received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine 21 days or more before testing positive
  • There were 371 secondary cases in 5,939 contacts (6.25%) where the index case received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 21 days or more before testing positive.

The study intended to look at transmission among people in the same households, but could also apply to other, similar circumstances.

In a statement on the PHE website, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

This is terrific news – we already know vaccines save lives and this study is the most comprehensive real-world data showing they also cut transmission of this deadly virus. It further reinforces that vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic as they protect you and they may prevent you from unknowingly infecting someone in your household.”

Prof Deborah Dunn-Walters, chair of the British Society for Immunology Covid-19 Taskforce and professor of immunology at the University of Surrey, told the Science Media Center that the PHE data was "very promising," saying that it "provides further evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are effective in reducing transmission of the virus between individuals as well as preventing people getting very ill with disease."

Public health authorities continue to recommend that people do not skip their second dose. Getting two doses of the vaccine will provide the best long-term protection from the virus, according to the UK's national health service.

8:27 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Prince Charles 'deeply saddened' by India's 'tragic' crisis, urges public support

From CNN’s Max Foster and Sharon Braithwaite

Britain's Prince Charles is pictured during a visit to a temporary NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinic in London, on March 9.
Britain's Prince Charles is pictured during a visit to a temporary NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinic in London, on March 9. Ian Vogler/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Prince of Wales expressed his sadness over the "horrific" Covid-19 situation in India on Wednesday.

"This week, I have been deeply saddened by the tragic images we have all seen as Covid-19 takes its horrific toll in India," Prince Charles said in a message sent to the people of India, in which he urged the public to support the country.

As India has helped others, so now must we help India," he said.

"With support from the Indian diaspora, the British Asian Trust has launched an Emergency Appeal for India to channel this desire to do something about this terrible situation and help save lives. Many members of the diaspora, and others including businesses, trusts and foundations, have already come together behind this appeal. I do hope that even more of us might be able to provide support to help those in India in their time of need," he added.

On Tuesday, India reported its highest daily death toll since the beginning of the pandemic, with 3,293 deaths. India’s coronavirus death toll has now surpassed 200,000 people.

For seven consecutive days, the country has reported more than 300,000 new daily cases.

On Tuesday, a record 360,960 new cases were recorded by health authorities.

8:22 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Delhi mayor requests steady supply of firewood as cremations continue to rise

From Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Workers sort logs of wood to be used on funeral pyres for people who died of Covid-19, at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on April 22.
Workers sort logs of wood to be used on funeral pyres for people who died of Covid-19, at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on April 22. Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images

An increase in cremations following India’s second wave of Covid-19 has prompted the North Delhi mayor to issue a request for a steady supply of firewood.

In a letter, North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to direct the forest department to ensure a steady supply.

 "Kindly give appropriate directions to the forest department so that the crematoriums can continue doing their work uninterrupted and the bereaved families are not put into any kind of trouble," Prakash wrote on Tuesday.

Delhi has been dealing with an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 the past few weeks, with the local government recording 381 deaths in the capital alone on Tuesday. 

Nationwide, India marked the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, after reporting a further 3,293 deaths -- a daily record -- on Tuesday.

360,960 new cases were also recorded by the Indian Department of Health on Tuesday, marking the seventh consecutive day of more than 300,000 new cases.

8:19 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

India’s election candidates and officials required to test negative or be vaccinated ahead of vote count

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

People queue to caste their votes during the 6th phase of the legislative assembly election at Boknabandha village, in India's Dinajpur district, on April 22.
People queue to caste their votes during the 6th phase of the legislative assembly election at Boknabandha village, in India's Dinajpur district, on April 22. Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Election Commission (IEC) have issued guidelines ordering all polling officials and candidates to provide negative Covid-19 test reports or to be fully vaccinated ahead of the of the counting of state election ballots on May 2.

The move is the latest effort by authorities to control the country's devastating coronavirus outbreak, currently the world's worst.

“No candidates/agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or without having 2 doses of vaccination against Covid-19 and will have to produce negative RT-PCR report or RAT report or vaccination reports within 48 hours of start of counting,” read the (IEC) guidelines issued Thursday.

In addition, public gatherings have been banned outside counting venues, which must be large enough to maintain social distancing and have proper ventilation, the IEC said . Counting centers must also be disinfected before, during and after the counting.

The temperatures of everyone entering will be checked, and those showing symptoms will not be allowed in, the IEC's guidelines said.

The Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam, as well as the union territory of Puducherry, went to the polls on March 27 -- with voting taking place across eight phases and ending on April 29.

All votes are to be counted on May 2, with the results announced on the same day.

On Wednesday, India’s Election Commission banned all victory processions during the day of, and after the counting of votes.

7:17 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

The EU's legal case against AstraZeneca begins

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Pierre Bairin

 

Hakim Boularbah, lawyer for the Swedish-British AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company, left, and lawyers of the European Commission attend the hearing concerning the legal action by the European Commission against AstraZeneca at a Brussels courthouse, on April 28.
Hakim Boularbah, lawyer for the Swedish-British AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company, left, and lawyers of the European Commission attend the hearing concerning the legal action by the European Commission against AstraZeneca at a Brussels courthouse, on April 28. François Walschaerts/AFP/Getty Images

A European Union legal case against British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca began in a Belgian court on Wednesday.

The European Union announced Monday that it is suing AstraZeneca over an alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract in a dramatic escalation of a months-long dispute over delivery delays that hampered the rollout of shots across the continent.

The 27 nations of the European Union had ordered 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the drugmaker to be delivered by the end of June, with an option to purchase an additional 100 million. But deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell short, sparking a bitter public fight over the terms of the contract.

AstraZeneca said in March it was aiming to send 100 million doses in total to the union in the first half of the year -- just a third of what was expected.

The Belgian court told CNN on Wednesday that the EU's legal case asks whether the company can take measures to catch up on delayed production and delivery to the bloc, as per the contract.

The court is tasked with looking at that request and whether AstraZeneca should be fined if they are unable to comply, a spokeswoman of the Belgian Court of First Instance in Brussels told CNN.

Speaking outside the court on Wednesday, lawyer Hakim Boularbah, who is representing AstraZeneca, said: "The only statement I can make is that AstraZeneca deeply regrets the decision of the European Commission to take this action to court. They hope the dispute will be resolved as soon as possible.”

A lawyer for the commission, Rafaël Jafferali, told cameras outside court that "We made our case in court. We explained the situation. Our comments are for the court.” 

The next court hearing is scheduled for May 26.

The judge, who has not been named, is expected to take three to six weeks to come back with a ruling.