World News

What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, December 10

Posted December 10, 2020 8:14 a.m. EST

— America could take a big step down the road toward the end of the pandemic today, with a key advisory panel expected to vote later on whether to clear the way for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to green light the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Maeve Reston reports.

Officials say the vaccine will be shipped out within 24 hours of receiving emergency use authorization (EUA). In most cases, the shipments will be transported from Pfizer's facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to hospitals and pharmacies, which will be directly responsible for giving the vaccine to their health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Despite the promising news, there's still a long way to go, with the US predicted to enter one of its darkest winters. Yesterday, the US recorded its highest single day tally of 3,124 Covid-19 deaths, a record 106,688 hospitalizations, and is currently averaging more than 200,000 new daily infections -- and that's as experts expect another surge to kick off, fueled by the Thanksgiving travel and gatherings last month, Christina Maxouris writes.

"We are in a totally unprecedented health crisis in this country. The disease is everywhere -- Midwest, West Coast, East Coast, North, South. Health care workers are exhausted, hospitals are totally full," former US health secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN Wednesday night.

California shattered its Covid-19 records on Wednesday, logging the highest number of cases in a single day, the most patients hospitalized with the virus, and the largest number of ICU admissions to date. Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer tried to hold back tears Wednesday as she ticked through the case numbers during a press conference: "The more terrible truth is that over 8,000 people, ... who were beloved members of their family, are not coming back. And their deaths are an incalculable loss to their friends and their family, as well as our community."

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: Should I take the vaccine if I have severe allergic reactions to medicines?

A: On Wednesday, British officials said that people with a "significant history of allergic reaction" to vaccines, medicine or food -- such as a previous history of anaphylactoid reaction, or those who have been advised to carry an adrenaline autoinjector -- should not be given the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The announcement came after two UK health workers -- who both carried an adrenaline autoinjector and had a history of allergic reactions -- developed symptoms of anaphylactoid reaction after receiving the immunization on Tuesday. White House vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui said Wednesday it is likely that "subjects with known severe allergic reactions should not take the vaccine, until we understand exactly what happened here."

The FDA will ultimately determine if people with severe allergic reactions can have the vaccine or not. But while the incidents are concerning, they are likely to be "unusual and rare," Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.

"Clearly everyone now is aware of that and will be looking at that -- and particularly taking care of people who do have underlying allergic phenomenon, that they may be cautious about vaccination or at least be prepared to respond with some sort of anecdote to the reaction," Fauci said.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you're facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT'S IMPORTANT TODAY

China's Sinopharm vaccine has 86% efficacy against Covid-19, says UAE

An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm has 86% efficacy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Health Ministry said Wednesday. The vaccine results were based on interim analysis of the late-stage clinical trials which the UAE started in July, according to a statement reported by the state news agency. While few details were provided, this is the first publicly released information on the performance of the Chinese vaccine.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said it will cut the size of its US Covid-19 vaccine trial because the virus is so widespread. White House vaccine chief Slaoui said Wednesday that the trial may have enough participants by the end of the week.

In other vaccine news, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was targeted by hackers, who "unlawfully accessed" documents related to Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine submission, BioNTech said yesterday, adding that their own systems -- including personal data of participants -- had not been breached.

In an Iranian intensive care unit, doctors grapple with Covid-19 and US sanctions

Iran has passed two grim milestones in the last week: 50,000 dead on Saturday and 1 million recorded cases since the pandemic began. These numbers tell just part of the story, limited in its scope by the tests Iran is able to muster daily, thought to number about 60,000, Nick Paton Walsh, Jo Shelley, Ramin Mostaghim and Scott McWhinnie report.

The country is having to battle the devastating outbreak with the added scourge of US President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" sanctions, which Iranian officials, doctors and outside experts say have hampered Tehran's Covid-19 fight.

Germany's Covid-19 numbers are 'rising and that is worrying'

Germany's outbreak remains "very tense," the head of the country's infectious disease agency, said Thursday, adding that infections are "rising and that is worrying."

"We need people to reduce contacts by more than 60%" on their own or "other measures" will have to be considered, Lothar Wieler told journalists. He warned that after plateauing for a few weeks, ''the course of infections could top over again'' into exponential growth. Another official from the agency warned of an imminent rise in deaths, and said Germany was seeing "double the amount of infection numbers in care homes than in spring this year.''

The day before, Chancellor Angela Merkel grew emotional after the country reported a record 590 deaths in one day. She appealed to her fellow Germans to keep one another safe by reducing their social contacts before the holidays, especially if they plan to visit older people.

ON OUR RADAR

Letters addressed to Santa Claus, collected through the Post Office's "Operation Santa" program, reveal the pandemic is weighing heavily on children. Some are imploring Santa to make the coronavirus go away. Others are asking for masks for Christmas. Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Black Americans hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccine to trust the process -- in part because one of the scientists at the forefront of the vaccine's development is a Black woman.A CNN reporter drove across the US during the pandemic, while working remotely, as it was the most affordable and safest option to move back to her hometown.Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney, left hospital Wednesday after spending four days there battling a coronavirus infection.The FDA has granted emergency authorization for the first non-prescription, over-the-counter Covid-19 test kit for at-home use. It now means anyone aged 18 and over can buy the kit and collect nasal swab samples in their living rooms.

TOP TIP

Doctors are urging all Americans to hunker down in their bubbles through this disastrous Covid-19 surge.

Social distancing bubbles can help you stay safe and sane by seeing other human beings. But they only work if everyone follows the same strict rules.

Here's what a bubble is, what the ground rules should be, how to handle tricky conversations with friends and family, and what happens if someone violates (or bursts) the bubble.

TODAY'S PODCAST

"Asking questions about the way the world turns -- essentially -- I like to think of it as like my purpose in life." -- Kizzmekia Corbett, viral immunologist

The 34-year-old's team helped develop Moderna's mRNA vaccine, which reported 94.5% efficacy. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Corbett, who leads coronavirus vaccine research at the National Institutes of Health, about her groundbreaking research in today's episode. Listen Now.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.