Encouraging Covid vaccine data continues to pop up around the globe — even as virus variants threaten to derail progress. An Oxford University study found its vaccine, developed alongside AstraZeneca, is still effective after delaying the second dose. That could ease distribution challenges and get vaccines to more people, faster. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine was found in peer-reviewed results to be 91.6% effective. And nearly all vaccines in late-stage development or currently available are effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization.
Here are some of the biggest developments Wednesday:
- GlaxoSmithKline and CureVac strike deal to develop vaccine that targets Covid variants
- Vaxart says its oral vaccine produced promising results in early trial
- AstraZeneca vaccine can cut virus spread, delayed second dose is effective, study finds
- CDC director says schools can safely reopen without vaccinating teachers
- Fauci cautions against attending Super Bowl parties to avoid spreading the virus
The U.S. is recording at least 141,400 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,090 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 104.18 million
- Global deaths: At least 2.26 million
- U.S. cases: More than 26.49 million
- U.S. deaths: At least 449,485
American Airlines backs more federal aid as 13,000 furloughs loom
Airline labor unions are seeking $15 billion more in federal payroll support for the industry to keep jobs through Sept. 30.
"We are fully behind our union leaders' efforts to fight for an extension and we will lend our time and energy to support this effort in every way we can," American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom told staff.
The notices are federally required but don't guarantee that all of those workers will lose their jobs. The airline is offering leaves of absence with partial pay and early retirement to try to reduce its payroll.
The furlough warnings come less than a week after United Airlines said it could furlough up to 14,000 on April 1. The federal aid prohibited airlines from cutting jobs and forced them to recall employees who were furloughed after a $25 billion aid package expired on Oct. 1.
National Women's Hockey League suspends rest of 2021season
The National Women's Hockey League has suspended the remainder of the 2021 season after new positive Covid-19 tests.
The suspension comes as two of six teams withdrew from the two-week tournament after safety concerns.
The NWHL didn't crown a 2020 champion in its fifth season due to pandemic effects. The sixth season was supposed to take place in Lake Placid.
Nearly 70% of Americans back Biden's Covid relief plan, poll finds
President Joe Biden appears to have public sentiment behind his coronavirus relief plan.
A new Quinnipiac University poll found 68% of Americans support his $1.9 trillion rescue package. Meanwhile, 78% and 61% of respondents back the $1,400 direct payments and $15 per hour minimum wage, respectively, included in the proposal.
Democrats, who control the House and Senate, have pushed ahead with the process that will allow them to pass the sprawling aid bill without any Republican support. GOP lawmakers have expressed doubts about spending nearly $2 trillion after Congress passed a $900 billion relief plan in December.
A handful of the most centrist GOP senators proposed a $618 billion plan to Biden. The president and Democratic congressional leaders consider it too small to mitigate the health and economic crises wrought by the pandemic.
— Jacob Pramuk
United Airlines flight attendants rule out furlough reduction measure
United Airlines flight attendants ruled out a furlough-mitigation program that would allow some cabin crew members to volunteer for unpaid time off, pick up shifts when possible and keep their medical benefits.
The airline last week sent out furlough notices to roughly 14,000 employees as a second round of federal payroll aid nears its expiration after March 31 with little sign of an uptick in travel demand in the pandemic.
Other programs that aim to reduce the number of flight-attendant furloughs are still in play, however, including another voluntary leave program and a schedule-sharing option. Flight attendants have to bid on those programs, which have a limited number of spots.
"We recognize that while there were differences of opinion on how best to move forward, there will be a significant portion of our Membership for which this is devastating news," the Association of Flight Attendants, their labor union, said in a note to members on Wednesday. "While we will not pursue negotiating ways to mitigate any involuntary furlough, we will continue to have conversations with management about reducing the number subject to involuntary furlough from 12,000 to a lower number considering the potential for increased spring and summer travel; as well as the continuing roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine."
American Airlines, meanwhile, told its employees last week to brace for furlough notices as the federal aid expiration nears.--Leslie Josephs
Unequal vaccine distribution could prolong global economic recovery, WHO says
Global Covid-19 cases are on the decline, even in countries that have identified fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus, but the unequal distribution of life-saving vaccines could make for a bumpy economic recovery, World Health Organization officials said.
There were 3.7 million new global cases reported during the week ending Jan. 31, a 13% decrease compared with the prior week, according to the WHO's latest situation report. Deaths, which lag new cases by a few weeks, posted a modest 1% decline over the week.
The decrease is welcomed news, but the number of weekly new infections is "still an awful lot of people," said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program. On top of that, poorer nations have not had the same access to vaccines as higher-income countries, making it harder for them to reopen their economies without adding risk to their health systems.
"Right now, the unequal distribution of vaccines means that not all societies are going to get an equal chance to come back online and that's simply not fair," Ryan said.
Yankee Stadium will open for vaccinations Friday
New York City will open its temporary mass coronavirus vaccination site at Yankee Stadium for its residents in the Bronx starting Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
The site will offer 15,000 appointments during its first week of operation, the statement said. The stadium will specifically target residents in the Bronx, which has had the highest positivity rate, or percent of total tests returning positive, of any of the city's five boroughs.
"It's abundantly clear that Black, Latino and poor communities have been hit the hardest by COVID, and the Bronx is no exception," Cuomo said in a statement.
At least 6% of residents in every state have received at least one vaccination shot
State-level vaccination data published to the CDC website on Wednesday show that at least 6% of the population in every state and Washington, D.C. has now received at least one vaccine shot.
Vaccination progress varies across the country. Alaska is the state with the highest share of residents who have received at least one shot at 13.4%, followed by West Virginia, New Mexico and Connecticut, which are all over 10%. On the other end of the spectrum, three states are reporting less than 6.5% of their residents having received at least one vaccine shot: Idaho, Missouri, and Iowa.
Nationwide, 27.2 million people have received at least one shot, according to CDC data, slightly more than 8% of the U.S. population.
San Francisco sues its own school district to force a reopening
San Francisco took the unprecedented step of suing its own school district in an attempt to force schools to reopen, the Associated Press reports.
The lawsuit may be the first of its kind in the country, as virtual classrooms come under fire by educators and legislators for being insufficient for the learning process.
According to the report, the lawsuit claims school administrators are violating a state requirement that says school districts have to create a plan to "offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible. Teachers unions have said they won't return to work without first being vaccinated.
San Francisco's attorney will file a motion Feb. 11 requesting an emergency order to ensure the district formulates a reopening plan, according to the report.
U.S. has doled out another 1.1 million vaccine shots since Tuesday
The U.S. has doled out another 1.1 million vaccine shots since Tuesday morning, according to updated data from the CDC, for a total of 33.8 million doses administered to date. That's about 60% of the total 55.9 million doses distributed to states so far.
President Joe Biden set a public goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office. His administration is currently getting an average of 1.3 million shots into arms each day, according to a CNBC analysis of the CDC data.
Legal experts say colleges can require vaccinations for students
Medical experts say that in order for colleges to return to "normal," many students will need to receive the coronavirus vaccine and legal experts say colleges are able to require students to get vaccinated.
"Under everything that we've seen, and the guidance from agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education, it's been stated that just like how [colleges] can require other vaccines like meningitis and measles and hepatitis for incom