Covid updates: U.S. has now administered 11 million vaccine doses

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A new study out of the U.K. found Covid-19 antibodies provide some immunity against the virus for at least five months. The study, which surveyed thousands of British health care workers, was conducted before new, highly transmissible variants of the virus were detected in the U.K., South Africa and most recently the United States. Still, it helps fill in a key detail on the scientific timeline of infection, recovery and immunity that could prove critical in containing the virus. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, and its authors caution the conclusions are preliminary analysis.

The U.S. is recording at least 245,300 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,360 virus-related deaths each day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins University data.

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 92.77 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 1.98 million
  • U.S. cases: More than 23.21 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 386,996

U.S. potentially facing ‘perpetual infection’ of Covid in spring as new variants spread, warns Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Dr. Scott Gottlieb warns virus mutations could cause 'perpetual infections'
Dr. Scott Gottlieb warns virus mutations could cause 'perpetual infections'

Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned of a potentially dire spring and summer without protective immunity as Ohio State researchers found a new Covid strain in the U.S. with mutations that scientists haven't seen before.

"If we can't get more protective immunity into the population, we could be facing a situation where we have, sort of, a perpetual infection heading into the spring and summer as these variants get a foothold here," said the former FDA chief in the Trump administration in an interview on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith."

The U.S. has had a slow vaccine rollout, and distributed 30.6 million vaccines and put 11 million of those into people's arms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gottlieb warned that the variants could transform what could have been a relatively quiet spring and summer, into "a summer where we have more infection because these variants are now circulating and they spread more easily, even in the warm months, when we really shouldn't have had a lot of coronavirus spreading."

Emily DeCiccio

Biden unveils sweeping plan to fight pandemic

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. It includes massively scaling up testing to support school reopenings, creating more health-care jobs and investing billions in a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine campaign.

Notably, the also plan includes investing in new treatments for Covid-19. Earlier in the day, a member of Biden's Covid-19 advisory board, Dr. Celine Gounder, said public health officials have been focusing too much on treatments such as monoclonal antibodies and Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir.

The new plan from the president-elect comes as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the U.S. and deaths sharply rise. President Donald Trump's response to the pandemic has been criticized, including his handling of distributing Pfizer's' and Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines.

As of Thursday at 9 a.m. ET, more than 30.6 million doses of vaccine had been distributed across the U.S., but just over 11.1 million shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number is a far cry from the federal government's goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 and 50 million Americans by the end of this month.

–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

U.S. has now administered 11 million vaccine doses

A driver gives a thumbs up as his passenger is given a COVID-19 vaccination by a healthcare worker at a drive-thru site at Tropical Park on January 13, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The U.S. has now administered just over 11 million Covid vaccine doses, according to new CDC data. The new data represents an increase of about 1 million doses administered since Wednesday.

While more vaccinations serve as a sign of hope for many, administered doses still only account for about a third of total doses distributed.

Alabama currently lags behind the rest of the country, with only 1,882 doses administered per 100,000 residents. All other states have administered at least 2,000 doses per 100,000 residents.

—Rich Mendez

Wife of congressman-elect who died of Covid will run for his seat

Luke Letlow speaks after qualifying for the Louisiana 5th Congressional District race in Monroe, Louisiana,  July 22, 2020.
Greg Hilburn | USA TODAY Network | Reuters

Julia Letlow, the wife of congressman-elect Luke Letlow, will run for her husband's vacated seat for Louisiana's Fifth Congressional District after he died from Covid-19 late last year.

Originally from Monroe, Louisiana, Letlow has spent the majority of her professional life working and advocating for higher education.

"I am running to continue the mission Luke started - to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities, and to deliver real results to move our state forward," Letlow said in an announcement on Facebook.

—Katie Tsai

Biden advisor says releasing most vaccine doses won’t cause people to miss second shots

The Biden administration's plan to release nearly every available dose of Pfizer's and Moderna's coronavirus vaccines shouldn't cause issues with people getting their second shot on time, a member of President-elect Joe Biden's Covid-19 advisory board said.

"That's not something we're too worried about," Dr. Celine Gounder told the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health during a webcast. "If you look at the timeline for production, they are actually going to be releasing more and more doses over time, so that really does open things up significantly."

The Trump administration on Tuesday adopted Biden's plan to release most of the doses it had held back for the second round of shots of Pfizer's and Moderna's two-dose vaccines.

Gounder said that the Bidenadministration still plans to keep "a small buffer" of doses in reserve.

"What we're saying is we're not going to be holding back second doses of vaccine. We're going to be releasing nearly all with a small buffer leftover because we want to accelerate the pace at which vaccinations is going," she said.

–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Pope Francis receives Covid vaccine

Pope Francis wearing a face mask attends an inter-religious prayer service for peace along with other religious representatives in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, a church on top of Rome's Capitoline Hill, in Rome, Italy, Oct. 20, 2020.
Guglielmo Mangiapane | Reuters

The Vatican News reported that Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have both received their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Pope Francis, 84, urged others to receive the vaccine, calling it "an ethical action, because you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others," the news outlet reports.

It is unclear which of approved vaccines was administered, according to NBC News.

—Katie Tsai

Gottlieb says vaccine recipients cannot let their guard down yet

Dr. Scott Gottlieb warns Covid vaccine recipients against letting their guards down right away
Gottlieb warns Covid vaccine recipients against letting their guards down right away

Former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb advised coronavirus vaccine recipients to continue taking public-health precautions right now due to the high level of infection in the U.S.

"I don't think people should feel completely secure after the first shot," Gottlieb said on "Squawk Box," adding that it's particularly true for elderly Americans who are at higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

"If you're a vulnerable individual, even if you've had the second shot and you think you have full protective immunity from the vaccine, it's still very prudent to continue to wear a mask and take precautions," he added.

Eventually, Gottlieb said there will be a time where Americans can "relax" some of their Covid mitigation measures, potentially in the summer. At present, however, that is risky because "infection is everywhere," he said.

Kevin Stankiewicz

Petco returns to public market as pandemic fuels pet spending

Petco CEO Ron Coughlin on returning to the public markets amid Covid-19 pet boom
Petco CEO Ron Coughlin on returning to the public markets amid Covid-19 pet boom

Petco made its return to the public market as the pandemic increases the number of Americans who are pet owners and inspires some to adopt an additional dog, cat or other critter.

Shares opened at $26 and shot up by more than 60% soon after the company debuted on the Nasdaq mid-day. Its stock trades under the ticker, "WOOF."

In an interview on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said the pandemic pet boom isn't the only reason why the retailer feels confident in its future. He said it's adding vet services at its stores that draw foot traffic and inspire additional purchases. He said about 70% of its portfolio of pet products are exclusive.

And he said it can beat competitors, such as online pet retailer Chewy, with its same-day service that are faster and cheaper for customers.

—Melissa Repko

Veeva Systems CEO talks Covid-19 treatments, pharma partnerships

Veeva Systems CEO on powering Covid-19 treatments, pharma partnerships
Veeva Systems CEO on powering Covid-19 treatments, pharma partnerships

CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" team discusses how Veeva Systems has partnered with pharmaceutical companies and is helping to power Covid treatments, with Veeva Systems CEO and founder Peter Gassner.

Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle back plan to develop a digital vaccination passport

A digital Covid vaccination passport is being jointly developed by a group of health and technology companies, CNBC's Sam Shead reports.

These companies anticipate that governments, airlines and major corporations will soon start asking people for proof that they have been inoculated.

A coalition known as the Vaccination Credential Initiative — which includes Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle, as well as U.S. health-care non-profit Mayo Clinic — was announced on Thursday.

The VCI said it wants to develop technology that enables individuals to obtain an encrypted digital copy of their immunization credentials that can be stored in a digital wallet of their choice, such as the Apple Wallet or Google Pay.

Terri Cullen

Southwest, American aren't requiring employees to get vaccines

Southwest Airlines flight 1117 from St. Louis lands at Boston Logan International Airport on March 13, 2019. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
John Tlumacki | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines aren't requiring their employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

"Currently, Southwest does not require vaccines, but Employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19," the Dallas-based airline said in a staff note Tuesday, which was viewed by CNBC. The vaccines will be free to employees, paid by the federal government and then administrative fees will be covered under all health plans, a spokesman said.

Airline workers are essential employees but are lower on the priority list for vaccinations than health care workers and other groups.

American said it is encouraging employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible but that it won't require it "unless vaccinations are ultimately mandated for entry to certain destinations."

—Leslie Josephs

Delta is still undecided on whether to end seat-blocking policy this spring

Delta Air Lines is still weighing whether to end its seat-blocking policy this spring, a measure that aims to appeal to travelers looking for more physical distance on board during the pandemic. The airline has been blocking middle seats or limiting onboard capacity, a measure it says helps drive higher revenue compared with other airlines.

Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways have recently abandoned the policy, while American Airlines did so early in the pandemic. United Airlines hasn't blocked seats.

"Our revenue premiums have never been higher," said Delta President Glen Hauenstein.

Leslie Josephs

Delta has banned more than 880 travelers for refusing to wear masks on board

Travellers wearing protective face masks line up at the Delta Air Lines ticketing desk inside Terminal 2E at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, after the U.S. banned travel from Europe, as France grapples with an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), March 12, 2020.
Benoit Tessier | REUTERS

No mask, no flight. Delta Air Lines says it has banned more than 880 travelers this year for refusing to wear face masks on board, a requirement to fly on U.S. carriers during the pandemic.

Flight attendants generally remind travelers who aren't wearing their masks several times before reporting the incident. Airlines have vowed a hard line against customers who won't follow the policy.

Passengers are legally required to follow crew instructions and several cases of onboard disturbances and a refusal to wear masks prompted a strong warning from the FAA. Late Wednesday, the agency said it will fine travelers $35,000 for interfering with crew duties or unruly behavior.

Alaska Airlines on Friday said it banned 14 people for rowdy behavior and not following mask rules and that it's so far added more than 300 travelers to its no-fly list. United Airlines has banned more than 600 travelers, while American Airlines and Southwest Airlines didn't provide numbers.

Leslie Josephs

Dow opens higher as investors await stimulus package proposal

U.S. stocks opened higher as traders look forward to a potential economic stimulus package and more good vaccine news, reports CNBC's Fred Imbert.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 100 points, or 0.3%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.2%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.3%.

—Melodie Warner

January is on track to match or pass December as the deadliest month of the U.S. pandemic

About halfway through the month, January is on pace to match or pass December as the deadliest month of the U.S. Covid pandemic, according to CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

The U.S. recorded 77,438 total virus deaths in December, far outpacing even the early days of the pandemic when deaths skyrocketed. As of Jan. 13, the country has already recorded half that monthly death toll, with 38,787 reported fatalities so far.

With daily deaths at pandemic highs this week, and for the most part trending upward, it's likely January will surpass December to become the deadliest month for the U.S.

—Sara Salinas, Nate Rattner

Delta posts biggest annual loss but sees turnaround thanks to vaccines

Delta Air Lines kicked off U.S. airline earnings, reporting it lost a record $12.39 billion last year as it trudged through the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus and accompanying travel restrictions, quarantine restrictions and shuttered attractions drove down air travel demand.

But the Atlanta-based airline halved its cash burn in the fourth quarter to an average of $12 million a day from the third quarter and narrowed its net loss to $755 million.

CEO Ed Bastian expects a difficult few months to start the year but expects demand to recover as vaccines are more widely distributed.

"While our challenges continue in 2021, I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery and a turning point that results in an even stronger Delta returning to revenue growth, profitability and free cash generation," Bastian said.

Leslie Josephs

Jobless claims surge to highest weekly level since August

US weekly jobless claims total 965,000, highest since August
US weekly jobless claims total 965,000, highest since August

Initial jobless claims surged last week to the highest level since August, as Covid outbreaks take hold in mid-winter.

First-time claims jumped to 965,000 for the week, far worse than the 800,000 Wall Street expected and well above the 784,000 claims filed in the previous period, CNBC's Jeff Cox reports.

Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all surged to record levels in recent weeks, leading to stricter virus lockdowns and reduced economic activity.

—Sara Salinas

India will roll out a massive Covid-19 vaccination drive this weekend

Bangalore Airport workers transfer carton boxes containing vials of Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India in Bangalore, India, Jan. 12, 2021.
Stringer | Xinhua | Getty Images

India is getting ready to begin one of the world's largest mass vaccination exercises starting Saturday.

New Delhi aims to inoculate some 300 million people in the first phase — about 30 million health-care and frontline workers followed by those above 50 years of age and other people who are at high risk.

So far India's regulator has approved the restricted use of two coronavirus vaccines in emergency situations.

One of them is developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is being manufactured domestically by the Serum Institute of India and is known locally as Covishield.

The other, called Covaxin, was developed domestically by India's Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research. It was granted emergency use authorization as clinical trials continue.

— Saheli Roy Choudhury

WHO investigators arrive in China; country reports first death in months

Residents undergo Covid-19 coronavirus tests at the basement of a residential compound as part of a mass testing program following new cases of the virus emerging in Shijiazhuang, in northern China's Hebei province on Jan. 12, 2021.
Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

China recorded its first death in the latest resurgence of coronavirus cases in the province of Hebei, which surrounds the capital city of Beijing.

A woman in Hebei died Wednesday afternoon, state media reported, noting hers was a severe case and she had pre-existing health conditions.

Separately, a team from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan Thursday to investigate the origins of the virus alongside Chinese scientists, according to state media. The city was the epicenter at the start of the pandemic and reported the first death from Covid-19 on Jan. 11, 2020.

Evelyn Cheng

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