Fourth vaccine dose might be needed this fall, Moderna CEO says

1 week ago 10
1 min ago

France softens school testing rules days after classes resume

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in Paris

France’s education ministry announced Thursday evening a loosening of testing rules for students when a classmate tests positive for Covid-19, just three days after schools reopened.

Testing rules were introduced Monday as students returned to classes after Christmas.

Education ministry rules for school students require that if one tests positive for Covid-19, their entire class is required to take three tests in four days to continue classes in person. Rules originally mandated that students were required to restart the four-day testing regime with each new positive case in the class. 

But as of Thursday, if additional positive cases occur in the same class within seven days after the first student tests positive, the whole class will not be required to restart the four-day testing regime. 

The amended rules apply to all students ages 12 and under, as well as students over 12 who are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated students over 12 must observe a seven-day quarantine if a classmate tests positive. 

11 min ago

Several Hong Kong officials sent to mandatory quarantine over scandal-hit banquet

From CNN's Teele Rebane and Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a press conference as her government announces strict new anti-coronavirus controls in Hong Kong on January 5, 2022. Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a press conference as her government announces strict new anti-coronavirus controls in Hong Kong on January 5, 2022. (Daniel Suen/AFP/Getty Images)

Several top Hong Kong government officials and 19 lawmakers are being sent to compulsory government quarantine after attending the same party as a Covid-positive individual. 

Another guest has since returned a preliminary positive Covid-19 test result.

More than 150 people attended the official banquet on Monday and will now have to quarantine in a government center, Hong Kong’s health department said in a press conference on Friday. 

On Thursday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam expressed her disappointment in the officials who attended the gathering after she informed the public that the home affairs secretary, Casper Tsui, was one of the first of the guests to be sent to quarantine. 

Earlier on Friday, the city’s director of immigration, Au Ka-wang, publicly apologized for the “additional burden to the epidemic prevention work” as he also confirmed he would be self-isolating at the infamous quarantine center, Penny’s Bay. 

Strictly zero-Covid: Hong Kong, along with mainland China, is one of the few places in the world still pursuing a zero-Covid policy, resulting in some of the harshest quarantine measures in the world.

All close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case must isolate at a government quarantine facility for up to 21 days. Non-residents are banned from entering Hong Kong, while almost all overseas arrivals must undergo 21 days of quarantine -- even if they are fully vaccinated. Find out more:

In 'zero-Covid' Hong Kong, this is what happens when you test positive

26 min ago

Players association says Djokovic has "verified his well-being to us"

From CNN's Jill Martin

Novak Djokovic supporters rally outside Park Hotel where he thought to be detained on January 06, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Djokovic arrived in Melbourne to play in the upcoming Australian Open and was denied entry to Australia due to questions over the validity of his visa. Novak Djokovic supporters rally outside Park Hotel where he thought to be detained on January 06, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Djokovic arrived in Melbourne to play in the upcoming Australian Open and was denied entry to Australia due to questions over the validity of his visa. (Diego Fedele/Getty Images)

The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) says Novak Djokovic wants to reveal "the facts of his detainment" in Australia "in his own time."

The men's tennis world no.1 co-founded the organization with fellow Canadian star Vasek Pospisil as a new way to advocate for players.

"The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) has been diligently monitoring the detainment of professional tennis player Novak Djokovic by the Australian Government," the group said in a statement.

"The PTPA has been in close contact with Mr. Djokovic, his family and legal counsel, government officials, and Australian Open leadership. Mr. Djokovic has verified his well-being to us. He has also requested that we allow him to personally share the facts of his detainment in his own words, and in his own time," it continued.

The organization said it had "the utmost respect for all personal views on vaccinations" and that "vaccinated athletes and unvaccinated athletes (with an approved medical exemption) should both be afforded the freedom to compete."

The PTPA ended the statement saying it will "continue to support and advocate for our members."

How we got here: The Serb arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday in preparation to defend his Australian Open title but was held at the border, and his visa was canceled a day later for not meeting the country’s required entry rules.

Players had been told that they needed to be inoculated against Covid-19 to participate in the tournament or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

There had been uncertainty over the 34-year-old player’s participation as Djokovic has not publicly revealed his vaccination status but voiced opposition to vaccines and vaccine mandates previously. Ultimately he was granted an exemption, which ignited a backlash among Australians, particularly as Melbourne residents spent more than 260 days confined to their homes, forbidden to leave except to buy groceries or other essential items, largely in two long stretches from July to October, 2020 and August to October, 2021.

However, there was a twist in the tale as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference Thursday that the Serb "didn't have a valid medical exemption" to the vaccination requirement for arrival into the country.

He is currently staying at the Park Hotel, where he was allegedly transferred after being detained at the airport, according to CNN affiliates Seven Network and Nine News. The hotel was formerly used as a Covid-19 quarantine hotel for returning travelers but is now operating as a detention facility housing asylum seekers and refugees.

53 min ago

The Pentagon is tightening its Covid-19 restrictions amid Omicron surge

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, September 22, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The Pentagon is tightening its Covid-19 restrictions, limiting building occupancy and encouraging telework, amid a “dramatic increase” in cases.

In announcing the switch to the tighter restrictions, known as Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks wrote in a memo that the Pentagon is “experiencing a rapidly involving situation” and cases are expected to rise through at least the end of January.

What's changing? Starting Monday, January 10 at 5:00am, the Pentagon will have an occupancy limit of less than 25%. Social distancing will remain at 6 feet, and personnel will be required to wear a mask indoors unless alone in an office, eating and drinking, or lowering a mask for security identification. 

Because of a high demand for testing, asymptomatic testing at the Pentagon will primarily be for those supporting mission critical tasks. 

For the past few months, the Pentagon has been at HPCON Bravo Plus, which allowed 40% of personnel to work in the building, while the rest teleworked. The new restrictions will limit in-person work even further.

“Significant upward trends, the rise in positive case counts, including the current spread of the Omicron variant, as well as the consideration that the majority of our workforce is fully vaccinated, weighed heavily in the decision to adjust safety plans,” wrote Michael Donley, the Director of Administration and Management, in a memo to senior Pentagon leadership.
56 min ago

A fourth vaccine dose might be needed this fall, Moderna CEO says

From CNN’s Katherine Dillinger, Elliott Gotkine, Maggie Fox, Amanda Sealy and Nick Thompson

Dosage of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are being prepared to give to patients at L.A. Care Health Plan Community Resource Center on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in El Monte, California. Dosage of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are being prepared to give to patients at L.A. Care Health Plan Community Resource Center on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in El Monte, California. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

More people may need a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine this fall, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Thursday, as booster doses are likely to become less effective over time. 

I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Bancel said at a Goldman Sachs health care CEO conference. 

A preliminary Israeli study found that a fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine raises coronavirus antibodies fivefold in a week’s time. People who are 60 and older, health care workers and those with weakened immune systems are eligible for fourth doses in that country.

The Canadian province of Ontario will offer fourth doses to people in settings such as long-term care homes and retirement homes.

Pfizer Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton warned last month that “we’re going to have to wait for a couple of months yet, until we can see how those data develop and mature, to understand when will that additional booster dose -- if needed -- have to be given.”

Medical experts have also advised caution around expanding vaccine programs. 

“We can’t vaccinate the planet every four to six months. It’s not sustainable or affordable,” Professor Andrew Pollard of the Oxford Vaccine Group, head of the UK’s Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, who helped create the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published Tuesday.

In a separate interview with Sky News on Tuesday, Pollard also cited the glaring unevenness of vaccine rollouts across the world.

"And remember that, today, less than 10% of people in low-income countries have even had their first dose, so the whole idea of regular fourth doses globally is just not sensible," he said.

Meanwhile in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on December 24 that it was too early to be discussing a potential fourth dose for most people.

"One of the things that we're going to be following very carefully is what the durability of the protection is following the third dose of an mRNA vaccine," Fauci told Michael Wallace and Steve Scott of WCBS Newsradio 880. Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are mRNA vaccines.

"If the protection is much more durable than the two-dose, non-boosted group, then we may go a significant period of time without requiring a fourth dose," Fauci said. "So, I do think it's premature -- at least on the part of the United States -- to be talking about a fourth dose."

Moderna is also developing Covid-19 boosters that specifically target coronavirus variants like Delta and Omicron. 

1 hr 4 min ago

China's vice premier tells hospitals not to turn away patients amid Xi'an lockdown

From CNN's Beijing Bureau 

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, attends the opening ceremony of the 11th National Games for Persons with Disabilities and the 8th National Special Olympic Games at the Xi'an Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province October. 22, 2021. Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, attends the opening ceremony of the 11th National Games for Persons with Disabilities and the 8th National Special Olympic Games at the Xi'an Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province October. 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Getty Images)

China's vice premier Sun Chunlan told hospitals not to turn patients away after they were reportedly denied immediate medical care for not presenting valid Covid-19 tests, resulting in widespread despair and public outcry.

"Patients should not be turned away under any excuses," Sun said Thursday, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. "Patients in serious or critical conditions must be treated immediately regardless of the Covid-19 test result as long as safeguarding the medical staff."

Sun's comments came after harrowing tales of loss and despair emerged from locked down Xi'an city in northwest Shaanxi province — highlighting the immense human cost of China's zero-Covid policy.

One heavily pregnant woman was allegedly turned away from a hospital on New Year's Day because she didn't have a valid Covid-19 test, according to a post from a user who said she was the woman's niece.

She was finally admitted two hours later — but had a miscarriage, said the post, which was shared widely on Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo before it was deleted.

Read more about Xi'an's lockdown here:

Xi'an lockdown brings heartbreak as pressure to contain outbreak grows

1 hr 9 min ago

Australia's NSW to impose precautionary measures ahead of "anticipated peak" in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney and Sophie Jeong

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (centre) speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Friday, January 7, 2022. NSW has halted singing in clubs and pubs for three weeks and will impose a triple-vaccination mandate for some people as it tries to slow the Omicron wave.NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (centre) speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Friday, January 7, 2022. NSW has halted singing in clubs and pubs for three weeks and will impose a triple-vaccination mandate for some people as it tries to slow the Omicron wave. (Paul Braven/AAP Image/Reuters)

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) will impose a range of precautionary measures ahead of an “anticipated peak” in Covid-19 cases, according to a statement from the state government Friday.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state will extend the suspension of non-urgent surgeries through to February to "alleviate pressure on the hospital system and staff."

Singing and dancing will be prohibited in hospitality venues — including pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars and restaurants — entertainment facilities, and major recreation facilities from Saturday until January 27, according to the statement. The prohibition will not apply to weddings, students, instructors and performers, the statement said.

Major events scheduled for the coming weeks will be risk-assessed by authorities, but event organizers should assume their event will proceed unchanged unless they are contacted by NSW Health, the statement added.

NSW is seeing a surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. On Friday, it reported 38,625 new Covid-19 cases of Covid-19, according to the state's health department.

1 hr 14 min ago

India reports more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases as doctors warn of strain on health care

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a man for a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a health centre in New Delhi on January 7, 2022. A medical worker takes a swab sample from a man for a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a health centre in New Delhi on January 7, 2022. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

India on Friday reported 117,100 new Covid-19 cases — the highest daily rise in nearly seven months, as it battles a surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant that is threatening to put a strain on medical resources.

India's capital, Delhi, reported 15,097 new cases, the highest since May 8, according to state health bulletins. Financial capital Mumbai reported 20,181 new cases — the second consecutive day of record cases.

At least 313 resident doctors have tested positive for Covid-19 across four hospitals in Mumbai, according to Dr. Avinash Yadav of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.

“We were already overworked with only 66% of resident doctors working in hospitals and now a lot of us are infected. Our health care infrastructure is suffering,” Yadav said Friday.

For months, resident doctors have protested the delay in allocating hospitals to an incoming batch of doctors, which the Indian Medical Association had said led to a shortage of 45,000 doctors on the frontline. 

“Those of us who are mild and asymptomatic are still continuing to work in Covid wards, but taking every precaution to ensure we don’t infect patients,” Yadav said. 

As of Thursday evening, Mumbai had nearly 6,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital with 16.8% of its hospital beds occupied — more than double from a week ago on December 31, according to local health bulletins. 

Mumbai's Dharavi slum reported 107 new cases on Thursday — the highest rise since the start of the pandemic, according to local administrative officials. 

India has reported a total of 35,226,386 Covid-19 cases, including 483,178 related deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. At least 3,007 cases of the Omicron variant have been reported across the country.

1 hr 17 min ago

Novak Djokovic is "not being held captive," says Australia home affairs minister

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is "not being held captive" in Australia and can leave when he chooses, the nation's home affairs minister said Friday, after the Serb's visa to enter the country was canceled for not meeting the required entry rules.

"He is free to leave at anytime that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Karen Andrews told public broadcaster ABC. “It is the individual traveler’s responsibility to make sure that they have in place all the necessary documentation that is needed to enter Australia."

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday after tournament organizers, in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health, said he had been granted a medical exemption — a decision that sparked backlash among many Australians.

The men's tennis world no.1 hasn't publicly revealed his Covid-19 vaccination status — but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic "didn't have a valid medical exemption" to the vaccination requirement for all arrivals.

Djokovic's visa was canceled on Thursday, and he is currently staying at the Park Hotel, where he was allegedly transferred after being detained at the airport, according to CNN affiliates Seven Network and Nine News. The hotel was formerly used as a Covid-19 quarantine hotel for returned travelers, but is now operating as a detention facility housing asylum seekers and refugees.

On Friday, his wife, Jelena Djokovic, spoke out for the first time on social media since the saga began.

"Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband," she said in posts on Instagram and Twitter. "I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening. The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being."
Read Entire Article