1 in 5 Americans have been infected with Covid-19 during the pandemic
From CNN's Virginia Langmaid
Twenty percent of Americans have now been infected with Covid-19 over the course of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
According to JHU data, at least 66,356,336 cases of Covid-19 have been detected over the course of the pandemic in the US. More than 800,000 people have died.
The US is currently averaging 777,453 new cases and 1,797 new deaths per day, according to JHU data.
4:43 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Health expert: Fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine “too late” for fighting Omicron in the US
From CNN's Leinz Vales
Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine Dr. Peter Hotez said Monday that a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine would be "too late" to combat Omicron in the United States.
"By the time you get that through and get the FDA and CDC to sign off on it and by the time we get an immune response and vaccinated health care providers and that's the group I suggested that we tried it for it will be three or four weeks from now and by then possibly the Omicron wave will have subsided substantially and we'll be having to worry about the next variant," Hotez told CNN's Poppy Harlow.
Early results from an Israeli study show a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine can increase antibodies, but it still not be enough to prevent Omicron breakthrough cases.
Israel began rolling out a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine with immediate effect for people ages 60 and over, medical workers and people with suppressed immune systems last month.
Hotez cautioned that experts in the US still need to review the final data from Israel before any recommendations on treatment.
"The reason I was concerned about not giving a second booster was based on information that we got from Imperial College London showing that within a couple of months after the boost, you got a decline in effectiveness down to 30% to 40% so the idea is you boost, get a big bump in virus neutralizing antibodies and maybe that would help the health care workforce," Hotez added. "So we’ll see what the data from Israel looks like."
3:20 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Canadian officials call Pfizer antiviral drug approval "a new tool" in the toolbox
Health officials recommend that the drug, which is five-day treatment that can be taken at home, be prioritized for residents in high-risk groups with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms. But ultimately, provinces will make their own guidelines for distribution, they said.
"The authorization today provides a new tool in the toolkit against Covid-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as we are faced with new variants," said Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser to the deputy minister. "Importantly, it is a more accessible anti-viral treatment for those at high risk of progression into severe Covid-19."
Health officials said that this will include those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and people 80 years-old and older who do not have up-to-date vaccinations, said Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada. In addition, she said people who are age 60 and older who live in rural or underserved areas or are part of the First Nations are recommended for priority access.
It will be required that anyone taking the drug have a positive Covid-19 test, either a PCR or a rapid test, and start treatment within five days of symptoms, health officials said.
Tam said the tests will be distributed on a per-capita basis. Canada ordered an initial quantity of one million treatment doses in December, she said, but officials are still working to firm up an official delivery schedule. Regardless, the antiviral pill will be in short supply when it is first distributed as the drug is in high demand around the world, Tam said.
Several reporters asked about concerns of long wait times for Covid-19 test results and how that might interfere with getting timely treatment, but several health officials said that they hope that those in high-risk categories are prioritized for test results and will allow quick treatment.
"That has to be worked out on the ground, but it is challenging, there is no doubt about it," Tam said. "So I do think increasing awareness to the at-risk populations that there may be treatments available now, even though we anticipate that at the beginning the supply will not be great anywhere."
Tam added that each community is going to be "a little different" in how they roll out the drug and that it is best to pay attention local guidelines.
Health officials said that ultimately, they hope that the anti-viral will help blunt the severity of the illness and will help keep more people out of the hospital to reduce the strain on the health care system.
2:12 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Moderna should have data on Omicron-specific vaccine in March, company CEO says
From CNN's Virginia Langmaid
Moderna should have data available on its Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine in March, company CEO Stéphane Bancel said Monday.
“It should be in the clinic in the coming weeks. And we're hoping in the March timeframe, we should be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out the next step forward,” he said in a panel conversation at Davos.
“That’s always been a great partnership between public health experts, the regulators and vaccine makers to figure out what's the best path,” he said.
“For two years, we've all worked literally, you know, seven days a week together to figure out how to fight this common enemy of the virus. The enemy is not another company or another group. The enemy has only been the virus and will stay the virus.”
1:31 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Tell us if you have tried to get a free at-home Covid-19 tests at a retailer
From CNN's Tami Luhby
Many Americans can now get at-home Covid-19 tests at no cost through their private insurance. They can obtain the tests from pharmacies, retailers and online vendors.
The program, which began Saturday, is part of the Biden administration's effort to increase access to testing around the US.
But some people are having trouble getting the free tests and many Medicare enrollees are discovering that they don't qualify.
If you've tried to obtain home Covid-19 tests at no cost, share your story with us. You could be featured in an upcoming story.
5:33 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Djokovic must comply with local health rules to compete in Madrid Open, Spain's prime minister says
From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has to comply with Spain's health rules to be able to compete in Madrid Open that kicks off in late April, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday.
Sanchez lauded Australia’s decision to deport Djokovic, saying he has "total respect for the decision of the Australian government."
“The rules are there to comply with and no one is above the rules. And if those are the rules that the Australian government has approved, then they have to be allowed,” he said.
Spain currently requires visitors to show proof of full vaccination, a recent PCR negative test within 72 hours before arrival or a certificate of having recovered from Covid-19, according to its health ministry.
International sporting events in the country may add additional rules for participants such as Covid-19 testing on a daily basis during the tournament, a senior government official told CNN on Monday.
Hear what Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic had to say about Djokovic getting deported:
12:27 p.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Greece's vaccine mandate goes into effect for those aged 60 and over
From CNN’s Chris Liakos
A vaccine mandate for those aged 60 years and is now in effect in Greece.
Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou suggested the mandate had helped get that group vaccinated.
“It is important that 90%, nine out of 10, of our fellow citizens over the age of 60, have now been vaccinated. Almost half of those who were unvaccinated, when the mandate was announced, made ... the choice to get vaccinated,” he said during a news briefing.
“We call on those who are still skeptical to make the same choice as soon as possible. Not only to escape the fine, but mainly to protect themselves against serious illness. That, after all, was the goal of the mandate and that is what we are aiming for. Mandatory vaccination is a means of individual and collective protection,” Oikonomou added. “In any case, as the deadline for their vaccination has expired, the law will be applied in full."
The mandate, which came into effect midnight Sunday into Monday Greek time, does not apply to those who have exemption approval due to health reasons and does not impose fines on those who need to be vaccinated at home and are awaiting for a slot.
11:18 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Milley tests positive for Covid-19
From CNN's Barbara Starr
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. Mark Milley tested positive for Covid-19 Sunday and “is experiencing very minor symptoms,” Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement Monday.
Milley “is working remotely and isolating himself from contact with others,” Butler said, adding that the top US general “can perform all of his duties from the remote location.”
“He has received the Covid-19 vaccines including the booster,” Butler said.
According to the statement, Milley most recently had contact with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Gen. Raymond Odierno’s funeral.
“He tested negative several days prior to and every day following contact with the President until yesterday,” Butler said.
“All other Joint Chiefs of Staff except for one tested negative for COVID-19 yesterday,” he said.
11:09 a.m. ET, January 17, 2022
Moderna: Combined Covid-19 and flu booster could be available by fall 2023
From CNN’s Livvy Doherty
A combined Covid-19 and flu booster shot from Moderna could be available in some countries by fall 2023 at the earliest, CEO Stéphane Bancel said Monday.
Speaking at the Davos Agenda, a virtual event being held this week by the World Economic Forum, Bancel said this date was a “best case scenario,” but that he believed it was possible for some countries next year.
He explained it was a goal for the company to have a single annual booster shot available to avoid “compliance issues” where people are wary about getting multiple shots every winter.