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Covid updates: U.S. cases and hospitalizations drop; Mexico close to approving Russian vaccine

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Several nations have closed their borders to non-citizens or instituted other travel restrictions in an effort to stop the global spread of Covid-19. The U.S. is requiring proof of a recent, negative Covid-19 test before travelers can fly into the United States. In response, some beach resorts and hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean have set up free onsite Covid tests for guests. Yet, Europol warns that sales of fake negative Covid test results are on the rise as criminals look to profit from the travel restrictions.

Here are some of the biggest developments Tuesday:

The U.S. is recording at least 146,000 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,100 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 103.71 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 2.24 million
  • U.S. cases: More than 26.40 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 446,272

Honeywell CEO explains how a walk led to a mass Covid vaccination site in North Carolina

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Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk on company's vaccine rollout efforts

The idea for the three-day mass vaccination event held this past weekend at Bank of America Stadium was hatched on a walk among friends, according to Honeywell International CEO Darius Adamczyk.

It just so happened Adamcyzk was joined by Carolina Panthers President Tom Glick and Atrium Health CEO Gene Wood on the stroll. "In the Covid era, one of the social things you can still kind of do is go for walks outside with some of your friends, Adamcyzk said on "Squawk Box," explaining the men live in the same neighborhood.

They were discussing the slower-than-expected start to Covid vaccinations in the U.S. when they realized their respective organizations might be able to do something about it, Adamcyzk recalled. "We said, 'You know, maybe we could help here. Maybe we could partner as a team.'"

More than 20,000 people were ultimately vaccinated from Friday to Sunday at the football stadium, he said. "We did this in the course of three days — Friday, Saturday, Sunday," Adamcyzk added. "Twelve hours a day, 20,000 people. Think about if we could do that, set up 50 or 100 of these kinds of sites across the country."

Kevin Stankiewicz

WHO chief says 'vaccine nationalism' is hurting global Covid recovery

Tedros Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, raised the alarm on how weak cooperation between countries could hinder the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a post published by the Foreign Policy magazine, Tedros wrote: "Despite the growing number of vaccine options, current manufacturing capacity meets only a fraction of global need. Vaccines are the best chance of bringing this pandemic under control—unless leaders succumb to vaccine nationalism."

"International collaboration among scientists was critical to vaccine development, but now weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the pandemic," he added.

Several countries, including the U.S., have been struggling to roll out the different Covid-19 vaccines amid amid limited supplies and logistical issues.

Fred Imbert

Mexico is on the verge of approving Russian Covid-19 vaccine

A medical worker prepares a syringe during vaccination with the Gam-COVID-Vak (Sputnik V) vaccine against COVID-19 at Sochi's City Hospital No 4.
Dmitry Feoktistov | TASS | Getty Images

Mexico is nearing approval for the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V after the results of an advanced study were published early in The Lancet, Mexican officials said, according to a report by Associated Press.

The Mexican government's pandemic spokesperson, Assistant Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said the health ministry signed a contract Monday to receive 400,000 doses of Sputnik V this month, according to the report.

Once the Russian vaccine is approved, it will be the third to receive emergency approval in Mexico after prior emergency approvals of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, the Associated Press reported.

A dozen countries have already approved Sputnik V for use.

Rich Mendez

No NFL players test positive in latest round of Covid-19 tests

National Football League fans convene in downtown Tampa ahead of Super Bowl LV during the COVID-19 pandemic on January 30, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Octavio Jones | Getty Images

No NFL players tested positive for the coronavirus in the league's latest round of testing leading up to Super Bowl LV — set for Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Reuters reported.

In total, 2,567 tests were administered to 152 players and 278 team personnel in the latest round of tests, according to the report. The League releases results weekly and tests frequently, especially when there are doubts about safety.

According to the NFL Network, two players on the Kansas City Chiefs, receiver Demarcus Robinson and center Daniel Kilgore, were put on the reserve list after having close contact with a barber that recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Both players were masked during the interaction, the League said, according to the report.

Rich Mendez

U.S. to ship vaccines directly to retail pharmacies as it ups weekly dose supply

The United States will begin shipping Covid-19 vaccine doses directly to retail drugstores on Feb. 11 as it looks to expand access to the life-saving shots nationwide, the Biden administration's Covid-19 response team said.

The federal program, which is separate from its partnership with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care residents, will start with 6,500 stores nationwide, White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a press briefing.

The U.S. is also increasing its weekly shipments of vaccine doses to states by 5%, he said. That means the federal government will now send a minimum of 10.5 million doses per week for the next three weeks across the U.S.

The administration has allocated 1 million doses to pharmacies in addition to the 10.5 million it has set aside for states, tribes and U.S. territories beginning next week, Zients said.

—Noah Higgins-Dunn

U.S. cases, hospitalizations falling as new variants loom

The United States appears to be turning a corner on the Covid-19 pandemic as cases and hospitalizations rapidly fall across the country, but that progress could be thwarted by more contagious strains that have quickly taken hold in other parts of the world.

The seven-day average of daily new cases in the U.S. is down 41% from its peak last month and the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 is down 29% from the peak.

But epidemiologists warn that the U.S. is at a dangerous point in the pandemic. They expressed concern that the declining numbers could lull the country into a sense of complacency when more caution than ever is needed. And while the numbers are off their peaks, the level of infection remains so high in most of the country that the loosening of restrictions as well as the spread of more contagious variants could still undo the country's progress, they say.

"There seems to be already a tendency, including in my own community, to start opening things up again, letting the bar stay open later and that sort of thing," Dr. Bill Schaffner, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University, said in a phone interview. "I'm worried about that because I thought we'd learned that lesson. As soon as you do that, cases start to go up again."

—Will Feuer

Democrats to take first votes toward passing Covid relief without Republicans

Democrats will push forward on passing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill without any Republican support.

Congress is set to take the first votes Tuesday toward passing a budget resolution, which allows lawmakers to use the reconciliation process. Through it, Democrats could pass an aid package with a simple majority vote in the Senate.

The party hopes to pass the budget resolution this week. It instructs committees to draft policies including $1,400 direct payments, a $400 per week unemployment benefit through September, state and local government relief and rental and mortgage assistance.

In announcing the Senate would move ahead with the budget measure, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said "time is a luxury our country does not have." He said he still hoped Republicans would join Democrats in passing a bill, a day after 10 GOP senators met with President Joe Biden about relief efforts.

Those Republicans put forward an aid proposal about a third of the size of the Democrats' plan.

—Jacob Pramuk

Capt. Tom Moore, who raised $53 million for UK Covid efforts, dies at 100

99-year-old war veteran Captain Tom Moore at his home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, April 16, 2020, after he achieved his goal of 100 laps of his garden - raising more than 12 million pounds for the NHS.
Joe Giddens | PA Images | Getty Images

Capt. Sir Tom Moore, who became a universally loved hero for his fundraising efforts during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, has died, his family said in a statement.

The 100-year-old recently suffered from pneumonia and was diagnosed with Covid-19 last week, his family said. The World War II veteran raised $53 million for the U.K.'s National Health Service by walking laps in his garden last year, according to Reuters.

"The care our father received from the NHS and carers over the last few weeks and years of his life has been extraordinary," his family said in a statement. "They have been unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate and have given us many more years with him than we ever would have imagined."

Rich Mendez

NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang tests positive for Covid-19

Former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang stands with his family at an event announcing his candidacy for New York City Mayor in upper Manhattan in New York City, January 14, 2021.
Mike Segar | Reuters

Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate who is now running for New York City mayor, said he's tested positive for Covid-19 and is in quarantine.

"I am experiencing mild symptoms, but am otherwise feeling well and in good spirits," Yang said in a statement. Yang said he tested negative for the virus over the weekend but then tested positive Tuesday through a rapid test.

Yang said that his campaign team, who are subject to weekly testing if they attend in-person activities, have started tracing all of his close contacts. He will continue to attend virtual campaign events.

—Noah Higgins-Dunn

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine 91.6% effective in phase 3 trial

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine was 91.6% effective in preventing the spread of Covid-19, according to a peer-reviewed phase 3 clinical trial published in The Lancet international medical journal, according to a report by Reuters.

"The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticized for unseemly haste, corner-cutting, and an absence of transparency," Professor Ian Jones of the University of Reading and Professor Polly Roy, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine told The Lancet.

"But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated," said the scientists, who were not involved in the study, according to Reuters. "Another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of Covid-19."

Terri Cullen

UPS shares jump following strong earnings as Covid drives online shopping

UPS CEO Carol Tome stands with workers
Source: UPS

UPS reported better-than-expected revenue and profits over the busy holiday season, reflecting a boom in online shopping amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Shares of the company rose roughly 4% following its earnings report.

Revenue for the Atlanta-based logistics and delivery company rose 21% to $24.9 billion during the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Its domestic package division saw a 17.4% increase in year-over-year revenue as its network filled to the brink with deliveries from online retailers.

"Looking at the fourth quarter, our results were strong and considerably better than we expected," CEO Carol Tome said on the company's earnings call following the report. "This is the highest quarterly operating profit in the company's history, with record profit produced in each segment."

—Noah Higgins-Dunn

Pfizer to deliver 200 million doses of vaccine to U.S. by May, sooner than expected

Flor Rodriguez (L), 72, of Nevada, receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination from Southern Nevada Health District nurse Daliah Rubio at Jerome Mack Middle School on January 29, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Pfizer plans to deliver 200 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the U.S. by May, earlier than its initial forecast of July, according to slides published by the company.

The company, also said it can potentially deliver 2 billion doses globally by the end of this year now that health-care providers can extract an additional sixth dose of the vaccine from the vials.

Pfizer, like other Covid vaccine makers, has been struggling to meet the demand for shots that hopefully will help bring an end to the pandemic. It recently enlisted the help of French drugmaker Sanofi to help produce 100 million doses of its vaccine.

In the slides published, Pfizer also said patients will "likely need to boost regularly to maintain immune response and to counter emerging variant strains."

—Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Coronavirus mutation 'of most concern' has occurred spontaneously in UK variant

Concerns that coronavirus mutations could render available vaccines less effective were justified after the mutation "of most concern" occurred spontaneously in the U.K. variant, Reuters reports, citing a professor of outbreak medicine who is part of a panel that advises the British government.

The U.K. variant's mutation, known as E484K, has also been seen in the South African and Brazilian variants, according to Reuters. Studies have found that vaccines and antibody therapy are less effective against the South African variant.

Initially, early studies showed that vaccines worked just as well against the U.K. variant, called B.1.1.7, prior to the E484K mutation, the wire service reported.

"The mutation of most concern, which we call E484K, has also occurred spontaneously in the new Kent strain in parts of the country too," Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told BBC radio. 

Terri Cullen

Depressed oil and gas demand hits BP, Exxon's fourth-quarter results

BP reported its first full-year loss in a decade while Exxon Mobil posted its fourth-straight quarter of losses as business restrictions imposed for the ongoing pandemic drove oil and gas prices lower.

BP's fourth-quarter profit of $115 million missed analyst expectations of $285.5 million and the U.K.-based oil and gas company warned the pandemic would continue to impact its performance, CNBC's Sam Meredith reports.

Exxon's fourth-quarter loss was $20.1 billion on revenue of $46.54 billion. The company earned 3 cents a share, excluding items, which was ahead of the 1 cent profit expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv, but revenue fell short of the Street consensus for $48.76 billion, CNBC's Pippa Stevens reported.

—Melodie Warner 

Biden administration's federal mask mandate for planes, trains and rideshares in effect

A Sun Tran employee offers free masks to passengers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the downtown bus station in Tucson, Arizona, U.S., June 20, 2020.
Cheney Orr | Reuters

The Biden administration's mask mandate for transportation took effect just before midnight Tuesday, requiring travelers on planes, trains, ferries and other modes of transportation to wear a face covering.

U.S. airlines have required travelers to wear masks on board since last spring, but workers have urged federal mask requirements to give more weight to the rule. The Trump administration recommended masks but stopped short of mandating them. Airlines have banned more than 2,000 people for refusing to wear masks on board.

"We recently got good news when President Biden signed an executive order mandating face masks across interstate travel, including airports and aircraft," Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told employees on Monday. "This adds a layer of protection for our people who have been integral in enforcing our mask policy. To date, we've banned approximately 950 people for failing to comply with the mask requirement."

The Transportation Security Administration, one of the agencies that will enforce the rule, says travelers who fail to comply could face civil penalties.

Leslie Josephs

Business travel spending might not recover until 2025

Global corporate travel spending fell by more than 50% last year to $694 billion as the coronavirus pandemic ended a decade of growth, a trade group estimates. It could take until 2025 to recover.

Business travel spending will likely increase by 21% this year, most of it at the end of the year as more people are vaccinated, estimates the Global Business Travel Association, whose members include airlines, hotel chains, travel agents and others.

While the group expects travel spending to grow, it will be at a slow pace. After China, the U.S. is the second-biggest corporate travel market. It was hard hit by the pandemic, with travel spending falling an estimated 61% to $121.7 billion last year. "A coordinated vaccination campaign across the US and North America will of course be paramount to ensuring a rapid return to pre-pandemic economic activity," the GBTA said in its forecast.

Leslie Josephs

Pfizer expects about $15 billion in 2021 sales from vaccine

Empty vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a first come first serve drive-thru vaccination site operated by the Lake County Health Department on January 28, 2021 in Groveland, Florida.
Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Pfizer expects to sell about $15 billion in Covid-19 vaccine doses this year.

The company, which is making its vaccine with German partner BioNTech, also forecast total revenue between $59.4 and $61.4 billion this year.

Pfizer, like other Covid vaccine makers, has been struggling to meet the demand for shots that will help bring an end to the pandemic. Pfizer has said it expects to deliver 200 million doses of its two-shot vaccine to the U.S. by July 31. It recently enlisted the help of French drugmaker Sanofi to help produce doses.

–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

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