By MORGAN WINSOR and ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 95 million people worldwide and killed over 2 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news developed Monday. All times Eastern:
Jan 18, 8:47 pm
Pfizer says it can’t sell vaccines directly to New York
Hours after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to Pfizer asking if the state could purchase its vaccine directly, the pharmaceutical giant said it needs federal approval to do so.
A representative said at this time it cannot sell the vaccine directly to states and would need approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to meet Cuomo’s request.
“Pfizer is open to collaborating with HHS on a distribution model that gives as many Americans as possible access to our vaccine as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement Monday.
Jan 18, 7:34 pm
Biden admin wont lift travel restrictions for UK, Europe, Brazil
Shortly after the Trump administration announced it would be lifting COVID travel restrictions for the U.K., parts of Europe and Brazil, the incoming Biden team said that would not be the case.
Jen Psaki, incoming White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, tweeted that the new administration doesn’t intend to lift the travel restrictions on Jan. 26.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she tweeted. “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Trump issued a proclamation Monday night, announcing he will rescind travel bans for non-U.S. citizens from Brazil, the United Kingdom and much of Europe next week.
The travel bans were put in place at the start of the pandemic following calls from health officials who urged the president to stop the spread of the virus.
The restrictions will be removed starting Jan. 26, the same day that all travelers must present a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the United States.
“Public health officials in the jurisdictions have a proven record of working with the United States to share accurate and timely COVID-19 testing and trend data, and the United States has active collaborations with the jurisdictions regarding how to make travel safe between our respective countries,” the proclamation said.
The U.K. and Europe bans were instituted in March, while the Brazil ban was implemented in May.
Jan 18, 4:13 pm
LA Fire Department sees positivity rate plummet after most firefighters get vaccinated
The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) saw its COVID-19 testing positivity rate fall significantly after 75% of firefighters on the force received their first COVID-19 vaccine.
When the first vaccines were being rolled out in late December, weekly LACoFD positivity rates reached 18%, roughly equivalent to positivity rates in the county’s general population. Today, after three-quarters of the force opted to get vaccinated, the LACoFD positivity rate has fallen to 5.6%.
“As expected, the vaccine began to have its impact seven to 10 days after the first vaccines were given,” Dr. Clayton Kazan, the department’s medical director, said in a statement. “This is the first time in the entire pandemic that our data diverged from that of the county,” he added.
This week, firefighters will start receiving their second dose of the two-dose vaccine.
-ABC News’ Matthew Fuhrman contributed to this report.
Jan 18, 2:53 pm
WHO director criticizes deals between rich countries, vaccine makers
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, took aim at rich countries hoarding the COVID-19 vaccine and the pharmaceutical companies profiting off of it, during a WHO executive board meeting Monday.
“It’s right that all governments want to prioritize vaccinating their own health workers and older people first,” Tedros said. “But it’s not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries.”
Tedros pointed to one of the lowest income countries in the world, which he did not name. “Just 25 doses have been given,” he said. “Not 25 million, not 25,000 — just 25. I need to be blunt: The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.”
The deals rich countries have made with vaccine producers are putting the effectiveness of COVAX, the WHO’s global vaccine-sharing program, at risk by driving up prices, according to Tedros. “This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response and continued social and economic disruption,” he added.
Jan 18, 1:41 pm
Disneyland Paris postpones reopening, citing ‘prevailing conditions in Europe’
Disneyland Paris, which was slated to reopen Feb. 13, will delay reopening until April 2, 2021, “due to the prevailing conditions in Europe,” Disney said in a statement posted on Twitter Monday.
As of now, Disneyland Paris is taking reservations from April 2 onward. Those with existing bookings between Feb. 13 and April 1 should consult Disney’s website. “Given the current context our plans continue to evolve,” according to Disney.
Disney is the parent company of ABC News.
Jan 18, 12:14 pm
US accounts for nearly 20% of COVID-19 deaths worldwide
The United States has reported approximately 19.6% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths.
Just over a month after exceeding 300,000 confirmed deaths from the disease, the country is on track to hit yet another staggering milestone: 400,000 deaths in less than a year, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
To put that in perspective, 400,000 people could fill New York City’s Madison Square Garden nearly 20 times over, or is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Tampa, Florida, or Tulsa, Oklahoma. The figure is more than the number of American soldiers who died in battle during World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined, according to a data estimate compiled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
During a White House coronavirus task force press briefing on March 29, President Donald Trump said that if the U.S. could keep its COVID-19 death toll between 100,000 to 200,000, it would mean that his administration had done “a very good job.”
But the death toll has already far surpassed the task force’s early estimates, and now President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration is warning that the “dark winter” is not over yet. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, whom Biden has nominated to serve as the next director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that they “expect half a million deaths in this country” from COVID-19 by mid-February.
The U.S. is currently averaging over 3,300 new COVID-19 deaths per day. The country has registered more than 52,000 deaths from the disease just since the start of the month, which is approximately one American death from COVID-19 reported every 30 seconds.
However, COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide appear to be stabilizing. The number of patients hospitalized with the disease across the country continues to drop, now standing at 124,387. Arizona, Nevada and Alabama currently hold the highest COVID-19 hospitalizations rates per million people in the country.
Jan 18, 11:43 am
Norway says it ‘can’t rule out’ vaccine side effects in 23 deaths
Twenty-three reports of suspected deaths associated with COVID-19 vaccines have been submitted to Norway’s national health registry as of Jan. 14, according to an updated statement from the country’s drug regulator on Monday.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency said it “cannot rule out that adverse reactions to the vaccine occurring within the first days following vaccination (such as fever and nausea) may contribute to more serious course and fatal outcome in patients with severe underlying disease.”
Thirteen of those reports have been assessed by the drug regulator, as well as the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
“The reports suggest that common adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines, such as fever and nausea, may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients,” Sigurd Hortemo, chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said in the statement.
Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, told the state-run broadcaster NRK: “We are not alarmed by this.”
“It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients,” Madsen said. “Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated. Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment.”
Norway is currently administering COVID-19 vaccines to the elderly and people in nursing homes with serious underlying diseases — at first with just the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine up until Jan. 15, and then also with the Moderna vaccine. Official figures show that more than 30,000 people have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in Norway since the end of December.
According to the Norwegian Medicines Agency, an average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide.
The Scandinavian country of 5.3 million people has confirmed more than 58,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including at least 521 deaths, according to the latest data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Jan 18, 11:26 am
California calls for pausing use of Moderna vaccine lot following ‘possible allergic reactions’
California’s top epidemiologist has recommended pausing the administration of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna’s lot 041L20A due to “possible allergic reactions” that are under investigation.
“A higher-than-usual number of possible allergic reactions were reported with a specific lot of Moderna vaccine administered at one community vaccination clinic,” Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement late Sunday night. “Fewer than 10 individuals required medical attention over the span of 24 hours. Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the CDC, FDA, Moderna and the state is complete.”
The California Department of Health said all of the affected individuals appeared to be experiencing “a possible severe allergic reaction during the standard observation period,” which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says some people have experienced when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 330,000 doses from that specific lot have been distributed to 287 providers across the state, with the shipments arriving between Jan. 5 and 12, according to the California Department of Public Health, which said it has not been notified of any other cluster or individual events related to this lot.
When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Moderna told ABC News: “Moderna acknowledges receiving a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that a number of individuals at one vaccination center in San Diego were treated for possible allergic reactions after vaccination from one lot of Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine. The company is fully cooperating with CDPH in investigating these reported adverse events. Consistent with the statement from CDPH, at this point Moderna is unaware of comparable adverse events from other vaccination centers which may have administered vaccines from the same lot.”
Jan 18, 8:27 am
London to pilot 24/7 vaccination sites before end of January
Before the end of the month, London will begin piloting COVID-19 vaccination sites that will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Nadhim Zahawi, the United Kingdom’s minister for COVID-19 vaccine deployment.
England’s National Health Service (NHS) will trial the round-the-clock vaccination sites at hospitals in the British capital.
“And we’ll look at how we expand that,” Zahawi told Sky News in an interview Monday.
Zahawi said the key with 24-hour vaccination sites is to ensure vulnerable populations, such as people over 80 and others deemed high-risk, are still being targeted.
“At the moment, the challenge is obviously supply — limited supply vaccine that needs to get into the arms of the most vulnerable four cohorts. So the targeting has to be really, really precise so that we can protect them by mid-February,” he added.
“So if you just want to chase volume, chase speed and not accuracy, 24 hours works really well,” he continued. “If you want to chase both accuracy, protecting the most vulnerable and of course speed, then you want to do what we’re doing which is primary care networks, hospitals, large vaccination centers and of course pharmacies.”
As of Saturday, 3,857,266 people in the U.K. have received the first of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest data published on the U.K. government’s website.
The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved three COVID-19 vaccines for use to date — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, a second developed by England’s University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and a third developed by American biotechnology firm Moderna.
The U.K. — an island nation of 66 million people made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — has confirmed more than 3.3 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including over 89,000 deaths. There were 38,598 new cases and 671 additional deaths confirmed over the past 24 hours, according to the latest data.
Jan 18, 7:10 am
France expands vaccination campaign to 75 and older, anyone deemed high-risk
People aged 75 and over will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in France starting Monday.
Up until now, only residents of nursing homes and medical staff aged 50 and over were able to be vaccinated against the disease.
France is also expanding its vaccination campaign to include anyone with high-risk conditions, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or transplant patients.
The move comes after the country’s death toll from COVID-19 topped 70,000 over the weekend.
France has confirmed more than 2.9 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including at least 70,283 deaths, according to the latest data from the country’s public health agency. The Western European nation has the sixth-highest tally of diagnosed cases in the world, after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
So far, the European Medicines Agency has approved two COVID-19 vaccines for use in the European Union — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna.
Jan 18, 6:24 am
Oklahoma school district stops basketball games due to ‘super-spreader event’
A public school district in Oklahoma City canceled basketball games on Friday night after witnessing what it called a “super-spreader event.”
Millwood Public Schools said it “made the decision to put kids and families first,” pulling its basketball players off the court during games against Community Christian School in Norman, about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City. The school district posted photos on Facebook showing a crowded gymnasium with no social distancing and few people wearing masks.
“We will NOT subject our kids and families to a super-spreader event just to compete,” Millwood Public Schools wrote in the Facebook post Friday night.
Community Christian School’s athletics director, Mat McIntosh, told Oklahoma City ABC affiliate KOCO-TV that the photos shared on social media showed the home side, which “was three-fourths full.” He said that they “would never put any students at risk.”
“During [Friday] night’s game when the decision was made to pull the players off the court, we were caught off guard,” McIntosh said in a statement. “We hated that. It has been our desire to keep things as normal as possible. We have policies in place for COVID during athletic events. As a school, we have listened to the governor’s statement to stay at 50% capacity. We feel even [Friday] night, our overall capacity was under 50%.”
Jan 18, 5:25 am
Germany has vaccinated over one million people
More than one million people have received the first of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Germany, according to the country’s public health agency.
As of Saturday, 1,048,160 first doses had been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute. So far, the European Medicines Agency has approved two COVID-19 vaccines for use in the European Union — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna.
There were 7,141 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Germany on Sunday. An additional 214 deaths from the disease were also registered nationwide. That brings the country’s cumulative totals to 2,040,659 cases with 46,633 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
Jan 18, 4:19 am
US reports under 200,000 new cases for first time in two weeks
There were 174,513 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the first time in two weeks that the country has logged under 200,000 newly confirmed infections in a 24-hour reporting period. Sunday’s tally is far less than the country’s all-time high of 302,506 new cases on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.
An additional 1,723 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Sunday, down from a peak of 4,462 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.
COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.
A total of 23,936,772 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 397,600 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.
The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.