December 19 coronavirus news

By Emiko Jozuka, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Sarah Diab, CNN

Updated 11:20 PM ET, Mon December 21, 2020
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2:07 p.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Israeli prime minister receives Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey and Amir Ta

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on Saturday, December 19 in Ramat Gan, Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on Saturday, December 19 in Ramat Gan, Israel. Amir Cohen/Pool/AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a Covid-19 vaccination at Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

The vaccination was shown live on Israel television.

Netanyahu is the first Israeli to be vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

He is also the first sitting prime minister publicly known to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

"It’s a small injection for man, a giant leap for our health," he said. 

1:08 p.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Moderna has studies underway to try and make its Covid-19 vaccine available to children

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Moderna said it has an ongoing study of its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents ages 12 to 18 that it launched on Dec. 9.

The company discussed the details of the trial at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting on Saturday.

The Moderna vaccine can be used in people who are 18 years and older under the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization. Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is authorized for use in people who are 16 years and older.

Moderna said it expects the results from its trial in 12- to 18-year-olds sometime in 2021.

“We need to have discussions about how much data would be sufficient to potentially evaluate the potential to lower the age indication for the vaccine, understanding that vaccinating our children will be very important to getting them back to school and protecting our educators,” said Moderna’s Dr. Jacqueline Miller. “We have not yet had the opportunity to speak to the agency about this.”

Moderna said it is also in discussions with the National Institutes of Health about designing an additional pediatric clinical trial in younger subjects, ranging from 6 months of age to 12 years old.

12:20 p.m. ET, December 19, 2020

A volunteer in the placebo group in Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine trial had an allergic reaction, company says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Another volunteer in the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial has had a serious allergic reaction – but that person was in the placebo group of the study, meaning they did not receive the vaccine, according to a presentation by the company at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting on Saturday.

Moderna’s Dr. Jacqueline Miller said the company is investigating the incident of the allergic reaction, which happened Friday night.

At the time the company submitted for an emergency use authorization, Miller said there had been two serious allergic reactions among the clinical trial volunteers. One of those cases was also in the placebo group. The other volunteer, who did receive the Covid-19 vaccine, had an allergic reaction 63 days after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. That person reported having a history of allergies to shellfish. It’s unclear what caused the allergic reaction.

More details: Moderna said it has been examining its data to see if any of the other volunteers have had an allergic reaction within 48 hours following vaccination. Four volunteers did report some kind of allergic reaction, but none of those reactions was considered serious.

The US Food and Drug Administration said Saturday that it will alert the public if changes to the authorization of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine are required following reports of allergic reactions in patients who received the vaccine.

The FDA asked the public to remain “vigilant” and to report any suspected reactions.

12:08 p.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Congress is "running out of time" to secure relief deal, Schumer says

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill on December 15 in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill on December 15 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor today that Congress is “running out of time" to pass a coronavirus relief deal, noting that they now have “until Sunday at midnight to secure a final agreement, draft the legislation and move it through both chambers of Congress.”

“We need to deliver an outcome and deliver it quickly," Schumer said.

Schumer zeroed in on the dispute over the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority, calling it the “number one outstanding issue.”

“We continue to make good progress on all issues, but one. The number one outstanding issue is a proposal by the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, this proposal is a new entrant. It hadn’t been an important feature of our negotiations over the past few weeks,” Schumer said. “Toomey’s new proposal would potentially prohibit the Treasury and the Fed from setting up new emergency lending facilities moving forward, greatly reducing their ability to respond to economic crises. Again, this is something that only materialized in the past few days and would leave the Treasury and the Fed with less authority than it had even prior to the pandemic."

Schumer added: “What he’s proposing is not about Covid or helping the American people. It’s about tying the hands of the next Treasury Secretary and the next Fed Chairman in a true emergency. I hope our Republican friends can agree to compromise here. Senator Toomey’s legislation is the only significant hurdle to completing an agreement.”

12:02 p.m. ET, December 19, 2020

FDA will alert public of reactions to Covid-19 vaccine that require changes to emergency use authorization

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared prior to a vaccine event at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center on December 17 in Washington, DC.
The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared prior to a vaccine event at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center on December 17 in Washington, DC. Shawn Thew/Pool/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration will alert the public if any changes to the authorization of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine are required following some reports of allergic reactions occurring after vaccination, FDA's Dr. Doran Fink said on Saturday.

"FDA continues to work very closely with our partners at CDC and also in the United Kingdom to investigate reports of allergic reactions, or suspected allergic reaction, following use of the Pfizer vaccine," Fink, deputy director of the Clinical Division of Vaccines and Related Products Applications, said during a meeting of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory on Immunization Practices on Saturday morning.

"Some of these reactions have been confirmed to be serious or anaphylactic reactions, and we are working closely with the manufacturer to identify what the cause of these reactions might be," Fink said. "We will update the public in a timely manner if we find anything that would cause us to change the conditions of the emergency use authorization or if we need to provide any additional information to inform the public about the benefits and risks of the vaccine."

Fink added: "However, I want to stress that at this time, the totality of the data continue to support vaccinations under the Pfizer EUA without any new restrictions, and we thank the public for remaining vigilant and reporting suspected reactions to the vaccine using the established mechanisms that have been set up."

11:42 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Illinois hospital pauses Covid-19 vaccination after 4 workers experience reactions

From CNN's Gisela Crespo and Fenly Foxen

A hospital in a suburb of Chicago has temporarily stopped its Covid-19 vaccination program for frontline personnel after four workers experienced reactions.

Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WLS that as of Friday, four workers at Advocate Condell Medical Center, in Libertyville, Illinois, have experienced tingling and elevated heartrate symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine. 

"At this time, we can share three team members are home and doing well, and one is receiving additional treatment," Advocate Aurora Health said in the statement.

The health care company noted these four workers represent "fewer than 0.15% of the approximately 3,000 who have so far received vaccinations across Advocate Aurora Health."

The company said the pause "will allow us time to better understand what may have caused these reactions," adding vaccination will continue in eight other locations across Illinois and Wisconsin.

11:48 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Parts of Britain will go into lockdown after Covid-19 strain proves to spread faster, prime minister says

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic on December 19 in London.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic on December 19 in London. Toby Melville/Pool/AP

Parts of Britain will go back into lockdown during Christmas after a newly identified strain of Covid-19 has proved to spread more quickly than previous strains of the virus. 

The British prime minister broke the news Saturday that London and the south east of England where cases are surging, will go into tier 4 restrictions on Sunday, which is akin to a lockdown.

“The spread is being driven by the new variant of the virus,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a news conference. “It appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70% more transmission-able than the earlier strain."

"This is now spreading very fast,” he added. “It is with a very heavy heart that I say we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.” 

Johnson outlined that in areas under the toughest restrictions, there will be no possibility for household mixing over Christmas. In areas under tier 3, mixing will now be restricted to Christmas Day. Earlier this week Johnson had ruled that up to three households could mix over the Christmas week. 

The entire nation is being asked not to travel and those under the highest level of restrictions will not be allowed to travel abroad except for work purposes. 

11:11 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

US remains "on track" to allocate 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by end of year, official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The United States remains "on track" to allocate 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to states nationwide by the end of the year, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said during a news briefing on Saturday. 

The nation currently has two Covid-19 vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech's and Moderna's – authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

"We remain on track to allocate around 20 million doses of vaccine to all jurisdictions by the end of December, with distribution of those doses pushing into the first week of January," Perna said on Saturday morning.

"While this second vaccine from Moderna, added on to Pfizer, now allows us as a whole of America to be on the offense, we are a long way from being finished," Perna said. "Each shipment of vaccine is another few yards gained, but any good player or coach knows that you still need defense, along with offense, to win the game. I join our health professionals in urging Americans to stay diligent in their defense. Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay socially distanced."

 

11:55 a.m. ET, December 19, 2020

Distribution of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine has already begun," Operation Warp Speed official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A nurse prepares a shot of a Covid-19 vaccine during the Moderna vaccine trial on July 27 in Binghamton, New York.
A nurse prepares a shot of a Covid-19 vaccine during the Moderna vaccine trial on July 27 in Binghamton, New York. Hans Pennink/AP

Distribution of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine now has commenced in the United States, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said during a briefing on Saturday. 

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine on Friday.

"Distribution of Moderna vaccine has already begun," Perna said on Saturday morning.

"Boxes are being packed and loaded today. Trucks will begin rolling out tomorrow, from FedEx and UPS, delivering vaccines and kits to the American people across the United States," Perna said. "This week, in total, between Pfizer and Moderna, we have allocated 7.9 million doses of vaccine."