President Joe Biden on Thursday set a new goal of having 200 million Covid vaccination shots administered within his first 100 days in office, doubling his prior pledge of 100 million vaccinations during that time frame. Biden hit that mark on the 59th day of his administration. Meanwhile, the European Union has extended its strict rules on Covid vaccine exports as the region's sluggish vaccine rollout faced scrutiny. The U.K. has been receiving vaccines from the EU and a vaccine supply agreement between the EU and the U.K. could be announced as early as Saturday.
Here are some of the biggest developments Friday:
The U.S. is recording at least 58,600 new Covid-19 cases and at least 960 virus-related deaths each day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins University data as of 7 a.m. ET.
The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
- Global cases: More than 125.87 million
- Global deaths: At least 2.76 million
- U.S. cases: More than 30.13 million
- U.S. deaths: At least 547,812
Amazon gets FDA authorization for its own Covid-19 test
The test is developed by Amazon subsidiary STS Lab Holdco, according to an FDA filing. The test is done via a nasal swab that employees administer themselves, either under the supervision of a health-care professional or at home.
Amazon plans to deploy the test among its workforce as part of its Covid-19 preparedness and response program. The company is now beginning to automatically sign up workers to get tested every two weeks, which is in line with its previously stated goal of testing front-line employees on a routine basis.
Representatives from Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brazil unveils vaccines, hits record for daily deaths
Brazil unveiled two homegrown vaccine candidates Friday, but that promising news was dampened with a record 3,650 new daily deaths from Covid, Reuters reports.
Anvisa, Brazil's health regulator, said it received a request to start early phase testing for a vaccine developed by the University of Sao Paulo Ribeirão Preto, according to Reuters.
Butantan biomedical institute in Sao Paulo also announced it will seek approval for human trials of its own vaccine candidate.
Brazil's more than 300,000 total deaths from Covid-19 are second only to the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Facebook to reopen its Bay Area office at limited capacity in May
The company told employees in August they could continue to work from home until July 2, but now they'll able to work remotely until one month after their office reaches 50% capacity, Facebook said. The company expects its largest offices to reach 50% capacity by early September.
Physical distancing and mask-wearing are required at all times in offices and, at some sites, weekly testing will be required, Facebook said.
Facebook's decision comes after Microsoft announced this week that it will begin reopening its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, starting Monday. Microsoft employees can choose between working at the office full time, working remotely or a hybrid model.
— Annie Palmer
WHO urges caution on counterfeit Covid vaccines
The World Health Organization urged people to take caution regarding counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines sold online, especially on the dark web.
WHO top official Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus advised people to only buy vaccines from government-run programs. "Any vaccine outside these programs may be substandard or falsified, with the potential to cause seious harm," he said.
Tedros also said WHO is aware of "criminal groups" tampering with the Covid vaccines supply chain and reusing empty vaccine vials. As such, he urged vaccine administrators to securely dispose of or destroy used and empty vials.
Any harm caused by counterfeit vaccines does not reflect the safety of genuine vaccines, Tedros emphasized.
U.S. sets single-day vaccination record with 3.4 million shots administered
The U.S. reported on Friday a single-day record of Covid-19 vaccine shots administered.
Nearly 3.4 million new doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were reported to have been given, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That brings the U.S. seven-day average of doses administered to 2.6 million shots per day.
President Joe Biden announced Thursday a fresh goal of 200 million vaccination shots being given within his first 100 days in office. The administration has already surpassed its original goal of having 100 million shots administered within the same time period.
According to CDC figures, 27% of the U.S. population has received at least one shot of a vaccine, and 14.7% are fully vaccinated.
Minnesota, Kansas to open vaccine eligibility to all adults beginning next week
Minnesota and Kansas will allow all of their adult residents to register for Covid-19 vaccines starting next week.
On Monday, all Kansans aged 16 and older will be eligible for a shot, Gov. Laura Kelly said in a tweet. The governor strongly encouraged all residents to sign up so "we can get back to school, back to work, and back to normal."
Nearly 780,000 Kansans have received at least one shot so far — roughly 27% of the state's population, according to the latest CDC data.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also announced that his state would widely expand access to all residents beginning Tuesday. According to a statement from the governor's office, Minnesota has vaccinated 80% of its seniors and two-thirds of its school and child-care employees.
"By expanding eligibility to all Minnesotans, providers across the state will have the flexibility they need to fill appointments and support the state's most critical goal: to get as many Minnesotans vaccinated as quickly as possible to end this pandemic" read a statement from Walz's office.
PPE may land you a tax break
Taxpayers can get a break on costs incurred for personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitizer this filing season, the IRS said Friday.
Americans who itemize their tax returns can deduct medical costs that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income from tax each year.
The IRS is counting PPE purchases in 2020 as a qualified medical expense.
New study examines vaccine effectiveness in slowing pandemic spread between people
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease is conducting a study to examine whether use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine can prevent infection and close-contact transmission, CNBC's Hannah Miao reports.
"We hope that within the next five or so months we'll be able to answer the very important question about whether vaccinated people get infected asymptomatically and if they do, do they transmit the infection to others," White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press briefing Friday.
The study hopes to provide guidance for those who are fully vaccinated and examine whether it would be beneficial to continue to wear masks and remain socially distanced from others post-immunization.
The study will follow 12,000 college students ages 18 to 26 years old at a number of U.S. universities over five months. Six thousand of those students will be vaccinated right away, and the other six thousand will be vaccinated four months later.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that those who have been fully vaccinated can safely meet with others who have been vaccinated indoors without wearing masks or social distancing.
New Jersey expanding vaccine access to frontline essential worker groups, others on April 5
New Jersey is opening up vaccine eligibility on April 5 to a number of frontline essential worker groups, as well as people ages 16 and up who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, Gov. Phil Murphy's office said in a release.
Expansion of vaccine eligibility includes people ages 55-64 and frontline workers in communications, construction and home services, sanitation workers and janitorial services, along with utility workers and others.
"To include sanitation, maintenance and building service workers in the eligibility categories is the next natural step," said Kevin Brown, director and vice president of the Service Employees International Union 32BJ in New Jersey, in the release. "These essential workers come from black, brown and immigrants communities, which have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic."
With pause on student loan payments, some borrowers might see a higher tax bill this year
With the coronavirus pandemic interrupting income for millions of people, the federal government gave federal student loan borrowers the option to pause their monthly bills without accruing interest. Those who took advantage of the pause might not see the usual tax break.
"You can claim the student loan interest deduction based only on amounts actually paid," said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.
Even if borrowers have still been making payments, tax breaks won't be available unless the payments were to interest. The government option to pause monthly bills wasn't enacted until March 13, 2020, so borrowers who made payments on interest in the months prior may still qualify for some deductions.
President Joe Biden extended the option to pause monthly bills until September.
WeWork optimistic on recovery of shared offices post-Covid, CEO says
WeWork expects its shared offices to see a strong recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted the commercial real estate market, according to Chief Executive Sandeep Mathrani.
"There's going to be a huge shift in coming back to work, and we're a flex provider so we're completely the person who would see it first because we're plug-and-play," Mathrani said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "We're starting to see, even in New York now, new activity, so we're pretty optimistic."
WeWork announced earlier in the day it planned to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to go public — less than two years after abandoning a traditional IPO.
"Companies have now decided that flex space is a must-have. Maybe for their own headquarters they want to own that space, but for everything else, they want to hand it over to a WeWork," said Vivek Ranadive, chairman of the SPAC that plans to merge with WeWork. "Covid was actually a tailwind for flex space," he added.
CDC director warns of possible Covid surge as U.S. cases increase by 7%
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned the U.S. could suffer another surge in Covid-19 cases unless pandemic safety measures are maintained.
The nation is recording a seven-day average of about 57,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, a 7% jump over the last week, she said during a White House news briefing. New hospitalizations are up "slightly" at roughly 4,700 admissions per day.
"I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory," Waleknsky said. "We have seen cases and hospital admissions move from historic declines to stagnations and increases. We know from prior surges that if we don't control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again."
—Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Former FDA chief Gottlieb discusses employers and universities requiring vaccination
Former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb joined CNBC's "Squawk Box" to talk about the decision that universities and employers have to make regarding whether to require that students, staff and employees be vaccinated before returning.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Aetion Inc. and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line's and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel."
GSK, Vir requests emergency authorization from FDA for Covid antibody drug
GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their monoclonal antibody drug.
The companies are requesting clearance for use by high-risk people age 12 and older.
The FDA submission is based on an interim analysis of a phase three trial, which evaluated the drug for the early treatment of Covid-19 in adults at high risk of hospitalization. The drug reduced hospitalizations or death from Covid-19 by 85% compared with a placebo.
—Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Casual dining gets boost from pent up consumer demand, stimulus
CNBC's Kate Rogers reports the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and stimulus payments is giving a boost to the casual dining sector.
Ambrosetti projects vaccinations in Italy will be complete 'by mid-September'
Valerio de Molli, Managing Partner and CEO of the European House –Ambrosetti, said he's optimistic Italy can complete the process of vaccinating 80% of its population by mid-September.
India plans to widen vaccination campaign to include more people 'in the near future'
India is planning to widen its coronavirus vaccination campaign to include more people, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Friday.
"The government is already planning to widen the umbrella of Covid-19 vaccine beneficiaries in the near future, to cover other sections of our population," Vardhan said at a virtual conference.
Starting next month, people aged 45 and older will be eligible for the vaccination regardless of their health conditions.
India began the world's largest mass vaccination campaign in January, with a target of initially inoculating some 300 million people including frontline workers.
— Saheli Roy Choudhury