COVID-19 updates: One million vaccine doses going out directly to pharmacies next week

By MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 103.8 million people worldwide and killed over 2.25 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 Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Feb 02, 9:08 pm
Snowstorm cancels thousands of vaccine appointments

Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine appointments were canceled after a nor’easter slammed the East Coast this week.
 
In Connecticut alone, some 10,000 appointments had to be rescheduled “as quickly as possible,” as many vaccination clinics closed Monday, the state health department said.

“Many clinics that were forced to close will be offering longer clinics hours and weekend hours to accommodate anyone who had their appointment cancelled yesterday or today,” the department said in a statement. “We do not anticipate any issues with vaccine deliveries. Many will arrive today or tomorrow, which is in line with the vaccination plans of our providers.”

In New Jersey, which saw some of the highest snowfalls, the state’s six vaccine megasites were closed Monday and Tuesday.

“We are still working to assess the storm’s impact,” state health department spokesperson Nancy Kearney told ABC News Tuesday.

Depending on the vaccination site, appointments were being rescheduled throughout the week, with some sites extending hours.
 
Most vaccination sites in New York City remained closed on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, with plans to reopen on Wednesday and “catch up on appointments quickly.” Among those needing to be rescheduled were 1,000 appointments across Monday and Tuesday at the city health department’s vaccine clinic in Elmhurst, Queens.

MaineHealth, one of two major health providers operating vaccine clinics in the state, canceled appointments on Tuesday. The other provider — Northern Light Health — planned to continue, the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention said.

In Washington, D.C., which had just 2.6 inches of snowfall, there were very few requests for cancellations, the department of health said.

The fallout from the snowstorm is less clear in Virginia and Pennsylvania, where the health departments said they don’t track counties’ appointments or cancellations. 

Feb 02, 7:26 pm
LA County surpasses 17,000 deaths

Los Angeles County has surpassed 17,000 COVID-19 deaths.

On Tuesday, the county’s public health department reported 205 new deaths for a total of 17,057.

LA has the more COVID-19 cases than any other county in the country — and more than twice as many as Illinois’ Cook County, the second-highest, according to Johns Hopkins University.

LA County surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths on Dec. 30 — adding more than 7,000 new COVID-19 deaths in a little over a month. By comparison, there were 7,000 deaths reported between February and October, the health department noted.
 
Nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in LA County — 8,405 — were among Hispanic/Latino residents, according to the health department.

The county is continuing to make progress in reducing transmission, health officials said, with 3,763 new confirmed cases reported on Tuesday. Though that number is “substantially higher than the number of cases we saw in September,” when there were fewer than 1,000 daily new cases, the health department said.

ABC News’ Bonnie McLean contributed to this report.

Feb 02, 6:35 pm
1 million vaccine doses going out directly to pharmacies next week

The U.S. government will begin shipping 1 million vaccine doses directly to select pharmacies next week, Jeff Zients, White House coordinator on COVID-19, announced Tuesday.

The doses will go to 6,500 pharmacies on Feb. 11 — and are on top of the 10.5 million doses already scheduled to be delivered next week, Zients said.

The participating pharmacies include:

-Walgreens (including Duane Reade)
-CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (including Long’s)
-Walmart, Inc. (including Sam’s Club)
-Rite Aid Corp.
-The Kroger Co. (including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Mariano’s, Pick-n-Save, Copps, Metro Market)
-Publix Super Markets, Inc.
-Costco Wholesale Corp.
-Albertsons Companies, Inc. (including Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaw’s, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky’s, Pak n Save, Sav-On)
-Hy-Vee, Inc.
-Meijer Inc.
-H-E-B, LP
-Retail Business Services, LLC (including Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Bros Co, Stop & Shop)
-Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. (including Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Fresco Y Mas)
 
ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Feb 02, 1:45 pm
7.8% of US population vaccinated

Twenty-six million people — which is 7.8% of the population — have received one or more vaccine doses, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cases and hospital admissions are continuing to decline nationally, while adult intensive care unit occupancy rates and deaths remain high in several states.

The seven-day average for new hospital admissions has dropped from a peak of 16,485 on Jan. 9 to 11,369 — a 31% decline, the report said.

California, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma are the only states where ICU occupancies are above 85%, the report said.

Feb 02, 1:21 pm
Fauci says next 6 weeks will be ‘full-court press’ on variants

Dr. Anthony Fauci says variants are the top concern in the U.S. right now and that the next six weeks will be critical.

“We’re going to be doing … a full-court press on non-pharmacologic interventions [like masks] as well as getting as much vaccine out as we possibly can,” Fauci said at the International Aids Society conference Tuesday.

“It’s a very stressful situation … when you have that much virus circulating, you’re going to get a lot of mutations, no doubt about it,” Fauci said. “It’s almost a race of trying to suppress the level of replication before we get so many accumulation of both the South African and other mutants as well as mutants of our own.”

Feb 02, 12:14 pm
Maryland confirms 2 more cases of South African variant

Maryland has identified two more cases of the South African B.1.351 variant, Gov. Larry Hogan said.

The two people are Montgomery County residents who recently traveled abroad, Hogan said.

“Contact tracing is underway, and close contacts are isolating,” the governor tweeted.

Maryland’s first case of the South African variant, in the Baltimore region, was announced on Saturday.

“The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death, though it is believed to be more transmissible,” the governor said. “Initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant.”

Feb 02, 11:55 am
Capt. Sir Tom Moore dies after contracting COVID-19

Capt. Sir Thomas Moore, the 100-year-old British World War II veteran who garnered global attention for his fundraising efforts amid the pandemic, has died after contracting COVID-19.

His death was announced Tuesday on social media accounts run by his family.

 

 

Moore was being treated for pneumonia over the past few weeks. After testing positive for COVID-19 last week, the centenarian was hospitalized on Sunday because “he needed additional help with his breathing,” his daughter said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Last spring, Moore raised over 37 million pounds ($50.7 million) for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service by walking laps in his garden in England amid a nationwide lockdown. Queen Elizabeth II honored Moore’s charity and service to the country with a promotion to honorary colonel, a social flyover and knighthood.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told ABC News the queen “is sending a private message of condolence” to Moore’s family and that she “very much enjoyed” meeting them last year.

“Her thoughts, and those of the Royal Family, are with them, recognising the inspiration he provided for the whole nation and others across the world,” the spokesperson said.

Feb 02, 11:12 am
Andrew Yang tests positive

Andrew Yang, who ran for president of the United States in 2020 and is currently running to be mayor of New York City, has tested positive for COVID-19.
 
“After testing negative as recently as this weekend, today I took a COVID rapid test and received a positive result,” Yang said through his campaign Tuesday.

Yang said he has mild symptoms, and as he quarantines he’ll “continue to attend as many virtual events as possible.”
 
“Our team has begun the contact tracing process to notify anyone who may have been in close contact with me,” he added.

Feb 02, 10:24 am
Real Madrid president tests positive

Spanish professional soccer club Real Madrid announced Tuesday that its president has tested positive for COVID-19.

Florentino Perez, 73, returned a positive result during the Madrid-based club’s routine testing. He is not showing any symptoms, the club said in a brief statement.

No additional details were provided by the club.

Feb 02, 9:25 am
Peer-reviewed study finds Russia’s vaccine is over 91% effective

Results from a late-stage clinical trial of Russia’s flagship coronavirus vaccine show the shot is not only safe but also 91.6% effective against symptomatic COVID-19, according to a study published Tuesday by the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.

The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial in Moscow involved 19,866 adult participants, of whom 14,964 received the vaccine, called Sputnik V, and 4,902 received a placebo. The two-dose vaccine was administered 21 days apart.

There were 62 confirmed cases of COVID-19 identified among the trial participants in the placebo group and 16 cases in the vaccine group, according to the study.

The study said there were no serious adverse effects related to the vaccine recorded during the trial and that 94% were mild, including flu-like symptoms, pain at the injection site and headaches.

A sub-analysis of 2,144 trial participants older than 60 showed the vaccine had a similar efficacy of 91.8%, according to the study.

“Our interim analysis of this phase 3 trial of Gam-COVID-Vac has shown promising results,” the researchers wrote.

The publication of peer-reviewed data follows last year’s criticism of Russia for registering the COVID-19 vaccine — and declaring itself the first country in the world to do so — before starting crucial Phase 3 trials.

“The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency,” Ian Jones, a professor of virology at England’s University of Reading, wrote in a comment piece published Tuesday by The Lancet alongside the study. “But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.”

Russia’s Direct Investment Fund (RDF), which funded the production of Sputnik V and is responsible for its worldwide marketing, hailed the study and noted that the COVID-19 vaccine is currently one of only three in the world with an efficacy above 90%. The vaccine, which is now registered in 16 countries, costs $10 per dose and can be stored and transported more easily because it can be kept at the temperature of a standard refrigerator, according to RDF.

“The data published by The Lancet proves that not only Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine, but also one of the best,” Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDF, said in a statement Tuesday.

Feb 02, 8:27 am
Japan extends state of emergency in greater Tokyo area

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and nine surrounding prefectures for another month to further stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The declaration, however, was lifted in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, where the COVID-19 infection rate has eased.

“I regret that the declaration cannot be lifted across the nation at this time,” Suga said Tuesday night in a televised address from his office in Tokyo.

The prime minister used a chart to show that Japan’s daily number of newly diagnosed infections has declined from 7,721 on Jan. 7 to 1,783 on Feb. In Tokyo, that number has dropped from 2,447 on Jan. 7 to 393 on Feb. 1. According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were 556 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the capital city on Tuesday.

Suga said the state of emergency could be lifted earlier than March 7 if the situation continues to improve. He noted that his government is hoping to begin a mass COVID-19 vaccination program as early as mid-February.

“Thanks to the cooperation of the people of Japan, we have seen a marked outcome,” he said. “At this point in time, I need to ask the people to endure another round of the state of emergency so that positive outcomes can be solidified.”

The move comes less than six months before the pandemic-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to open in Tokyo.

A state of emergency declaration gives the governors of those respective regions the authority to ask residents for cooperation in efforts to curb the spread of the virus. There are currently no legal ramifications for non-compliance.

Suga first declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures on Jan. 7, before expanding the order to include more virus-hit areas.

Under the state of emergency, Suga said governors will ask residents to refrain from dining out and to stay home after 8 p.m. unless for essential reasons. They will also ask companies to decrease the number of employees commuting to work by 70%.

Suga said bars and restaurants will be asked to stop serving alcohol by 7 p.m. and to close by 8 p.m. Governors may disclose the name of the businesses that don’t comply, while those that do will be given 1.8 million Japanese yen ($17,000) per month.

Spectator events will be limited to an audience of 5,000 people. Schools will not be asked to close, according to Suga.

Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, declared a nationwide state of emergency relatively early in the pandemic in April, which lasted for a month. At that time, residents were asked to reduce person-to-person contact by 80% and to practice “jishuku,” or “self-restraint,” by staying at home and closing non-essential businesses.

Feb 02, 7:15 am
Tokyo Olympics will take place ‘no matter how the COVID situation will be’

The Tokyo Olympics will take place this year “no matter how the COVID situation will be,” organizers said Tuesday.

“We will make sure the Games will be held no matter how the COVID situation will be,” Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said during remarks at a meeting on preparations for the event. “We go beyond the discussion of whether we hold (the Games) or not hold. We are to come up with ‘new’ Olympics.”

The 2020 Summer Olympics were supposed to kick off in the Japanese capital last year on July 24. But in late March, amid mounting calls to delay or cancel the upcoming Games, the International Olympic Committee and Japan’s prime minister announced that the event would be held a year later due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games are now scheduled to open in Tokyo this summer on July 23, but doubt has surfaced as Japan — and much of the world — grapples with a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. Moreover, Japan is not expected to begin administering its first round of COVID-19 vaccinations until the end of February.

Last week, organizers said COVID-19 vaccines will not be a requirement to compete in the Tokyo Olympics and that they are still considering holding the Games without spectators.

Feb 02, 6:49 am
US reports over 134,000 new cases

There were 134,339 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Monday’s case count is far less than the country’s all-time high of 300,282 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 2,031 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Monday, down from a peak of 4,466 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.

A total of 26,321,457 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 443,365 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.

So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. More than 32 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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