April 30 coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Ben Westcott and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 4:35 PM ET, Sat May 1, 2021
31 Posts
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5:51 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

WHO lists Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are prepared at a vaccine clinic in New York, on April 16.
Doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are prepared at a vaccine clinic in New York, on April 16. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization listed the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use Friday.

This is the fifth coronavirus vaccine listed for emergency use by WHO. Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, the Serum Institute of India and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine arm have also received emergency use listing.

The WHO grants emergency use listing to vaccines that have passed quality, safety and efficacy assessments. The listing helps some countries expedite their individual regulatory approval process for Covid-19 vaccines. Before receiving WHO's listing, Moderna’s vaccine had already received emergency use authorization in the US, Canada and several other countries.

Earlier in January, vaccine advisers to WHO reviewed the vaccine and recommended it for use in adults in interim recommendations.

WHO noted that the storage requirements of Moderna’s vaccine may eliminate the need for extra equipment. It can be kept unopened at normal refrigerator temperatures for a month, and Moderna said Thursday that data suggests its vaccine can be refrigerated for three months in 2-8°C temperatures. 

“Vials can be stored refrigerated at 2–8 °C for up to 30 days prior to withdrawal of the first dose, meaning that ultra-cold chain equipment may not always be necessary to deploy the vaccine,” WHO said in a statement.

5:30 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

Official: Biden administration hasn't determined criteria for allocating its vaccines to other countries yet

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The Biden administration has not yet determined the criteria for allocating its vaccines to other countries, a top State Department official handling coronavirus efforts said Friday.

Gayle Smith, the coordinator for global Covid response and health security, said on a call with reporters that “there is huge demand for vaccine all over the world.”

“I think we certainly will be making a decision based on what impact we can have on the spread of the virus, where needs are most acute and what will be the most effective,” she said.

Asked by CNN if the administration has concerns about China and Russia outpacing the United States in terms of global vaccine distribution, Smith suggested that the US was not trying to use its vaccines for political gain.

“Both China and Russia are actively encouraging countries to buy their vaccines,” she said. “I think frankly, we expect them to market their vaccines. I can tell you that, from the United States’ point of view, our intent is not to market or encourage vaccines based on any political policy but because they're the best means of ending a pandemic.”

“I think our big concern is that COVAX and other facilities that have been built to really get vaccines out there at scale are able to do so in the near term, our contributions to COVAX are a part of that plan. So again, our big hope is that we can have safe and efficacious vaccines out there at scale, as quickly as possible,” Smith said.

COVAX is run by a coalition that includes WHO and the Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi. It’s funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations.

Its mission is to buy coronavirus vaccines in bulk and send them to poorer nations that can't compete with wealthy countries in securing contracts with the major drug companies.

4:57 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

WHO chief scientist says equitable vaccine access is "still far away"

From CNN’s Keri Enriquez

World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2020.
World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization is still far away from its goal of equitable vaccine access, and supplies sent to COVAX "are not as much as we would like," according to the World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

During a panel discussion hosted by Physicians for Human Rights Friday, Swaminathan said that the issue has been that the supply of vaccines was all pre-booked by a handful of countries. She said WHO hoped contributions would improve in the second half of the year.

COVAX is run by a coalition that includes WHO and the Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi. It’s funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations. Its mission is to buy coronavirus vaccines in bulk and send them to poorer nations that can't compete with wealthy countries in securing contracts with the major drug companies.

But while COVAX is trying to address the issue of access, access to vaccines remains inequitable. Of the 1 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, 80% have been in high and upper middle income countries, Swaminathan said.

"About one in four or one in five people in high income countries across Europe, across North America have gotten some vaccine. For low income countries, it’s less than one in 100," Swaminathan told the panel.

"If we had distributed the 1 billion doses around the world, we could have protected the highest risk groups in every country," she said.

5:01 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

Vaccines created false sense of security worldwide, WHO chief scientist says

From CNN’s Keri Enriquez

A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine in Quimper, France, on April 30.
A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine in Quimper, France, on April 30. Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

The safety and availability of Covid-19 vaccines created a false sense of security worldwide that the pandemic was ending, according to World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

“I think vaccines did create a false sense of security, to the extent that people around the world, even in countries that were not significantly vaccinating, thought that now the end of the pandemic had come because just because we had developed a number of vaccines and that they were proven to be safe and effective,” Swaminathan said in a panel discussion hosted by Physicians for Human Rights Friday.

Swaminathan said "vaccine euphoria," or the collective relief that Covid-19 vaccines were effective and rolling out, has led countries with small vaccinated populations to reopen and loosen restrictions.

“You relax your restrictions without having that herd immunity in the population, cases go up, deaths go up. So I think it's going to take us a while to vaccinate 70, 80% of the world's population. Until then, unfortunately, all of us will have to continue to be careful,” she said.

4:27 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

More than 100 million people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the US, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

A healthcare worker administers the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the American Museum of Natural History vaccination site in New York, on Friday, April 30.
A healthcare worker administers the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the American Museum of Natural History vaccination site in New York, on Friday, April 30. Gabby Jones/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The United States has officially crossed the 100 million mark of people who are fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Biden administration announced the country had reached the milestone during the White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday.

The CDC reported Friday that 240,159,677 total doses have been administered and 77.8% of the 308,774,155 total doses have been delivered. 

That’s about 2.8 million more doses reported administered since Thursday, for a seven-day average of about 2.5 million doses per day. 

About 43.6% of the population – nearly 145 million people – have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 30.5% of the population – more than 101 million people – are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. 

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

4:11 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

US travelers will be required to wear a mask until September

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Passengers wearing protective masks masks board an Avelo Airlines flight at Hollywood Burbank Airport on Wednesday, April 28, in Burbank, California.
Passengers wearing protective masks masks board an Avelo Airlines flight at Hollywood Burbank Airport on Wednesday, April 28, in Burbank, California. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration is extending the Biden-era transportation mask mandate. 

The rule requiring masks on all travelers in airports, airplanes, terminals, trains, buses and boats was set to expire May 11. The mandate now lasts until Sept. 13. 

The TSA says it has received reports of 2,000 people who violated the rule, which took hold Feb. 2. 

4:16 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

Canada confirms future deliveries of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine will come from US instead of Europe 

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

Canada confirmed Friday that future deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine will come from the United States, instead of Europe, signaling that the company may now be manufacturing a sufficient supply of its vaccine for the US.

Canadian officials said Friday that Pfizer is on track to significantly increase vaccine supply to Canada in the coming weeks with at least 2 million doses being delivered every week for the next two months.

"As of May 3rd the Canadian supply of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine will come from its manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, Michigan," said Anita Anand, Canada’s minister in charge of vaccine procurement, during a news conference Friday. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news conference Friday that at least 50 million doses in total will have arrived in Canada by the end of June, enough to give 2 doses to about 75% of Canadian adults. The number of doses that are expected to be delivered in Canada over the next month will nearly equal the total number delivered in the last 5 months. 

Despite accelerated deliveries and distribution, public health officials say it’s "too early to celebrate" and vaccines will do little to help provinces currently struggling to stem infections during a tough third wave of the pandemic. 

"Unfortunately, the number of people experiencing severe and critical illness continues to rise," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. 

Worrying increases in intensive care unit admissions have been a reality in many provinces this week including in the provinces of Ontario and Alberta. 

Alberta set a pandemic record this week for new, daily Covid-19 cases and intensive care admissions were also at pandemic highs. 

The province announced tighter restrictions Thursday and said it was considering a curfew. 

Ontario also continues to struggle with hospital capacity, setting a record earlier this week for critical care patients and new, daily case counts seem to have plateaued at a very high level. 

Federal officials say the news on vaccines is good, but restrictions on social gatherings, stay-at-home orders and business closures will be necessary for weeks to come. 

"We need to be laser focused on two main things for community transmission in Canada, it’s keeping up with the public health measures and vaccinating as many Canadians as possible, that’s it, simple," said Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo. 

3:21 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

This is what it's like trying to get oxygen in India

From CNN's Janelle Davis

As India’s Covid-19 crisis spreads, oxygen has become one of the scarcest commodities.

In New Delhi, CNN’s Clarissa Ward met with people waiting for hours to get oxygen for their family members. It is in such short supply that the line went around the block. Some people told CNN they’re been waiting for 25 hours and still have not received oxygen.

Some people are taking shifts waiting in line. Once they get to the front of the line, there is absolutely no guarantee that they’ll be able to get any oxygen because the demand is so high, and the supply is so low.

One 22-year-old told CNN he's been waiting for five hours to get oxygen for his sick grandparents. He said, if he can’t get any oxygen, he’ll have faith on God. “It’s a very hard situation for everyone who is facing this Covid-19 situation,” he said. “I’m trying to be calm here because I’ve been waiting since 9 and this line is not even moving.”

Volunteers gave water to people standing in line. "It's the first time I've seen this situation in my lifetime," said one volunteer. "This makes us very upset."

India's government says it’s trying to address this problem. It has started a program called Oxygen Express, trying to deploy liquid oxygen on India’s railways to cities that need it the most. New Delhi is not seeing the impact of those efforts yet.

On the ground, Ward said she is seeing a growing sense of anger, frustration and desperation. International aid began arriving on Tuesday, with countries around the world sending oxygen cylinders, ventilators, medication and other essential supplies. But these supplies need time to be distributed and oxygen plants need to be built. For some of the hardest-hit cities, such as New Delhi, the lack of immediate help and accessible resources means the bodies will keep piling up until assistance arrives. 

2:58 p.m. ET, April 30, 2021

India takes China up on its offer to help New Delhi with Covid-19 crisis

From CNN's Swati Gupta in Delhi and Sugam Pokharel

Indian and Chinese foreign ministers held a call on Friday and agreed to keep supply chains and cargo flights open to ensure steady flow of materials and logistical support into India to combat the second wave of Covid-19 in the South Asian country, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement. 

India's foreign minister S. Jaishankar during a conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi emphasized the need for transport corridors and cargo flights for Indian entities to procure products from China. 

Chinese leaders had repeatedly expressed a desire to help, pledging to "offer support and assistance to the best of our capability if the Indian side informs us of its specific needs." 

New Delhi, however, had until now not taken Beijing up on this offer. 

"The Minister emphasized that serious challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which had affected all countries, required serious international cooperation," read the Indian foreign ministry statement from Friday. 

China has assured India that any chartered flights into their country to collect goods would be welcome and "airports, customs and airlines would also be instructed to smoothly facilitate movement of goods." 

"Highlighted the importance of supply chains and air flights being kept open in these circumstances. Welcomed his assurances in that regard, as also more openness to Indian chartered flights," Jaishankar said in a tweet Friday following the call. 

India was one of the first nations to send medical supplies to the Chinese city of Wuhan after the initial coronavirus outbreak there in late 2019. 

But since then, bilateral relations have deteriorated rapidly, due in large part to tensions along a shared border high in the Himalayas. 

China on Tuesday chaired a meeting with leaders from South Asia on Tuesday to coordinate assistance against the pandemic in the region. Leaders from India were invited but did not attend the call.