The US Transportation Security Administration says it screened more than 1.62 million people at airports across the country on Sunday. The new record is nearly 10 times larger than the same day a year ago when numbers fell to the doldrums of the pandemic.
To meet what industry groups call “pent up” travel demand, flyers are facing fuller flights and airlines are bringing planes out of storage.
Delta Air Lines removed its block on middle seats starting Saturday — the last major airline to keep such a pandemic policy in place. American Airlines said it was bringing all of its airplanes in pandemic storage back online by last Friday.
Sunday numbers are typically the highest of the week, but numbers remain high overall. TSA has recorded more than million screenings per day for more than seven weeks straight.
7:57 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
EU proposes easing travel restrictions to allow vaccinated travelers to enter Europe
From CNN's James Frater
The European Commission has today outlined plans that would allow fully vaccinated travelers from outside the European Union -- the EU -- to be able to enter the 27 countries of the bloc, a statement says.
Current restrictions, which bar travel from all but seven countries to the EU, have been in place since July 1 last year.
In a proposal published Monday, the commission recommends that, “Member States should allow travel into the EU of those people who have received, at least 14 days before arrival, the last recommended dose of a vaccine having received marketing authorisation in the EU.”
The vaccines which have currently received marketing authorization for use in the EU are: BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford University/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.
“Member States could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process,” the statement added.
The proposal also suggests that if a European country has decided to waive requirements for testing prior to entry and quarantine periods for EU vaccinated citizens, that country, “should also waive such requirements for vaccinated travelers from outside the EU.”
How it would work: The Commission’s plan is to use the EU’s "Digital Green Certificate" once it becomes operational to facilitate travel to the Europe.
To obtain a certificate, international travelers will need to submit evidence that they have been vaccinated to the individual European country they intend to travel to.
Until the EU-wide "Digital Green Certificate" system is operational, countries would need to take “into account the ability to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate and whether it contains all relevant data,” before granting a Certificate said the recommendation.
Also, in Monday’s proposal, the commission has recommended changing the rate of infection that is used as the main criteria for determining whether a country is on the EU’s safe list and is, “to take into account the mounting evidence of the positive impact of vaccination campaigns.” Currently there are only seven countries on the EU’s safe travel list.
“The proposal is to increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 25 to 100 [per 100,00- inhabitants]. This remains considerably below the current EU average, which is over 420,” the statement said.
In the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the United States has a notification rate of 258 so would not be added to the safe travel list, but the United Kingdom which has a rate of 47, would be considered under the new rules.
However, the Commission proposal does include a so-called "Emergency break," that “when the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country worsens quickly and in particular if a variant of concern or interest is detected, a Member State can urgently and temporarily suspend all inbound travel by non-EU citizens resident in such a country.”
Next steps: The plans will be discussed by the ambassadors of European countries on Wednesday, and the Commission hopes to implement the proposal by the end of June.
Once signed off the list of safe countries will be reviewed every two weeks.
Decisions about borders can only be made by individual countries, so each member state will decide whether to implement these proposals or not.
7:48 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
India's government hits back at criticism over vaccine shortages
From Swati Gupta and Vedika Sud in New Delhi
India’s Ministry of Health tweeted on Monday that media reports claiming the government had not placed new orders of Covid-19 vaccines were “incorrect and not based on facts.”
The CEO of India’s Serum Institute, Adar Poonawalla, also issued a statement Monday defending the country's short supply of vaccines.
Vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight," Poonawalla said. “ We also need to understand that the population of India is huge and to produce enough doses for all adults is not an easy task.”
“We understand that everyone wants the vaccine to be available in the quickest possible time,” he added. “That is our endeavour too and we are making every effort to achieve that.”
Serum Institute has delivered 150 million doses against an order of 260 million vaccines issued by the federal government, according to Poonawalla.
7:36 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
Moderna to supply up to half-billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to low and middle income countries
From CNN Health's John Bonifield
Biotech company Moderna on Monday announced an agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to supply up to 500 million Covid-19 vaccines doses in low and middle income countries.
The doses are being offered at Moderna's lowest tiered price, the company said. An initial 34 million doses are to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2021, with an option for 466 million doses in 2022.
The agreement covers 92 countries partnered with COVAX, a global initiative 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. COVAX is an entity run by Gavi, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and is funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations.
“I am grateful to our Gavi and COVAX partners for their tireless work and to the entire Moderna team for their collaboration to reach this agreement. This is an important milestone as we work to ensure that people around the world have access to our COVID-19 vaccine,” Moderna's CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a press release. “We recognize that many countries have limited resources to access COVID-19 vaccines. We support COVAX’s mission to ensure broad, affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and we remain committed to doing everything that we can to ending this ongoing pandemic with our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.”
In Moderna's press release, Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley said he was pleased with the agreement, which will give COVAX access to another Covid-19 vaccine.
“Expanding and having a diverse portfolio has always been a core goal for COVAX, and to remain adaptable in the face of this continually evolving pandemic--including the rising threat posed by new variants. This agreement is a further step in that direction," he said.
7:11 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
Six Tokyo Olympics relay staff test positive for Covid-19
From Chie Kobayashi in Tokyo
Six people working on Japan’s Olympic torch relay course in Kagoshima Prefecture have tested positive for Covid-19.
The six individuals were on “traffic control” duty during the torch relay on April 27, the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee told CNN.
Three of the individuals were in Kirishima City and the three others were in Amami city in Kagoshima. They were all wearing masks, the committee added.
The Organizing Committee was not able to disclose the roles of the six individuals due to privacy concerns.
6:47 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
India becomes third deadliest country from Covid-19
India has become the third deadliest country from Covid-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
India surpassed Mexico's death toll from the virus on Monday, making it the country with the third highest number of reported coronavirus deaths worldwide, behind the United States and Brazil.
The country's death toll stands at 218,959, according to its health ministry and JHU. Mexico's death toll stands at 217,233.
India also has the second highest number of total reported Covid-19 cases worldwide, behind the United States.
6:23 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
Pfizer working with India on expediting Covid-19 vaccine approval
From CNN's Chandler Thornton and Vedika Sud
Pfizer is working with the Indian government to gain expedited approval for its Covid-19 vaccine, CEO Albert Bourla said a LinkedIn post.
Pfizer is aware that access to vaccines is critical for ending this pandemic," Bourla said. "We are currently discussing with the Indian government an expedited approval pathway to make our Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for use in the country."
India is currently administering two vaccines domestically: the Oxford-AstraZeneca one, also known as Covishield, and its homegrown Covaxin, developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research.
India has also received 150,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as the country grapples with a brutal second wave of the pandemic, the government said Saturday.
CNN's Aditi Sangal contributed to this report.
6:08 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
Delhi begins vaccinating 18-44 year olds
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
India's capital Delhi has begun vaccinating its 18-44 year olds, albeit at a slow pace due to limited vaccine availability, according to the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
"Mass vaccination for youth of Delhi has begun," he announced on Twitter. "We have established 301 centers in 76 schools. Our target is to establish 3000 such centers in 300 schools, subjected to the availability of vaccine."
Delhi has 450,000 vaccines and 45,150 people have been given vaccination appointments, he added in a statement to Asian News International, an Indian news agency.
"There is 100% turnout," he told ANI Monday. "There is a lot of enthusiasm in the youth."
Some background: In a bid to tackle India's spiraling Covid-19 crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country will offer vaccines to everyone age 18 and above from May 1. The change came into effect on Saturday, however, a number of states, including Delhi, said they have no shots to give.
On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged citizens not to queue up for shots Saturday as vaccine supplies had not been received. Monday marks the first day that Delhi was able to start offering vaccines to the newly eligible cohort.
5:40 a.m. ET, May 3, 2021
Pfizer will donate more than $70 million worth of medicines to India
From CNN's Vedika Sud and Chandler Thornton
Pfizer is donating more than $70 million worth of medicines to India, CEO Albert Bourla announced in a statement posted to his official LinkedIn account.
The medicines, including steroid medications, anticoagulants to reduce blood clotting, and antibiotics will be made available "immediately," he added.
"Pfizer stands in solidarity with all those currently affected by COVID-19 in India and around the world and will continue to do everything possible to provide assistance," Bourla said.