COVID-19 live updates: More European countries limit Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine


By MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 104.5 million people worldwide and killed over 2.27 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:

Feb 04, 12:07 pmUS hospitalizations at lowest point since ThanksgivingAcross the U.S., 91,000 patients are in the hospital with COVID-19– the lowest number since Nov. 28, which was two days after Thanksgiving, according to ABC News’ analysis of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.Hospitalizations have declined by nearly 30% in the last three weeks.In the span of three weeks, the national seven-day average of daily COVID-19 cases has declined by 45.6% — the steepest and most consistent non-holiday-related drop in cases the U.S. has seen since the summer.

Feb 04, 11:25 amDenmark, Norway join growing list of European nations that won’t give Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to older age groupsDenmark and Norway have joined the growing list of European countries that have said they won’t recommend older age groups receive the COVID-19 vaccine developed by England’s University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca until more data from clinical trails becomes available.The Danish Health Authority said Thursday that it will recommend the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 65 who are not at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The drugs regulator citied a lack of documentation as to the vaccine’s efficacy in older age groups.Meanwhile, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it will also limit use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to those under 65 because there had been few participants older than that in the trial conducted by AstraZeneca.Belgium, France and Germany have made similar moves recently, while Switzerland went a step further and declined to authorize the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for any age group, citing insufficient data.

Feb 04, 11:02 amCOVID-19 fatality rate in Africa is now higher than global averageThe director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the COVID-19 fatality rate on the 54-nation continent “is becoming very troubling,” as it climbs higher than the global average.John Nkengasong told reporters during a press conference that the death rate from COVID-19 in Africa, the world’s second-largest and second-most populous continent, is now 2.6% while the global rate is 2.2%.Nkengasong said 20 African nations, including South Africa and Sudan, have COVID-19 fatality rates higher than the global average as the continent grapples with new, more contagious variants of the virus. More than 3.5 million people across Africa have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and nearly 89,000 of them have died, according to the latest data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The African Union regional bloc has secured 670 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various manufacturers. In addition, the continent is expecting around 600 million doses from the vaccine-sharing facility COVAX.Feb 04, 9:59 amDoses secured to vaccinate all US Capitol Police personnelEnough COVID-19 vaccine doses have been secured to inoculate all U.S. Capitol Police personnel, according to Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, who credited “efforts of the Congressional Leadership, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Administration.”The federal police force has been hit hard by COVID-19 infections since the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.”The Department expects delivery of the vaccines to occur shortly, and is already working with the Office of Attending Physician on logistics to administer them to our employees as quickly and safely as possible,” Pittman said in a statement Thursday.

Feb 04, 9:45 amDoses secured to vaccinate all Capitol police personnel

Enough vaccine doses have been secured to inoculate all Capitol Police personnel, Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement, crediting “efforts of the Congressional Leadership, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Administration.”

The Capitol Police Department has been hit hard by COVID-19 infections since the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol.

“The Department expects delivery of the vaccines to occur shortly, and is already working with the Office of Attending Physician on logistics to administer them to our employees as quickly and safely as possible,” Pittman said.

Feb 04, 8:54 amAnother 779,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week

Another 779,000 workers lost their jobs and filed for unemployment insurance in the United States last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, as the pandemic-induced economic crisis continues to upend the labor market.

This is a decrease of some 33,000 compared to the previous week’s figure, though the latest tally remains highly elevated by historical standards. 

Moreover, the Labor Department said that some 17.8 million people were still claiming some form of unemployment benefits through all programs as of the week ending Jan. 16. For the comparable week last year, that figure hovered just above two million. Thursday’s jobless claims tally comes ahead of Friday’s highly-anticipated jobs report — the first to be released since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. The report is expected to paint a more complete picture of the state of the U.S. labor market and the pace of the recovery.Feb 04, 8:51 amIsrael expands vaccination drive to anyone over 16

Israel is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone over the age of 16.

“From this morning, anyone over the age of 16 can get vaccinated,” Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced via Twitter on Thursday. “Take advantage of the opportunity that almost no country in the world has.”The Israeli government aims to vaccinate the country’s entire population of nine million people against COVID-19 by the end of March. So far, more than 3.3 million individuals have received their first dose of the vaccine, including over 1.9 million who have also gotten their second dose, according to Edelstein.Israel has confirmed more than 672,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including just under 5,000 deaths, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

Feb 04, 7:25 amCOVAX unveils plan to distribute over 330 million vaccine doses to poorer nations

The COVAX Facility has announced its plan to distribute more than 330 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to developing nations in the first half of 2021.

In an interim distribution forecast published Wednesday, the vaccine-sharing facility said distribution would cover an average of 3.3% of total populations of 145 countries taking part in the first rounds. The allocation includes 336 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — 240 million manufactured by the Serum Institute of India plus 96 million made by AstraZeneca — as well as 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.The COVAX Facility, which is coordinated by the World Health Organization, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, noted that the plan is “non-binding and may be subject to change,” with allocations and distributions subject to a number of caveats, including WHO emergency-use approval for vaccines and countries’ readiness.“We will soon be able to start delivering life-saving vaccines globally, an outcome we know is essential if we are to have any chance of being able to beat this pandemic,” Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, said at a press conference Wednesday.

Feb 04, 6:18 amUS death toll from COVID-19 tops 450,000An additional 3,912 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered in the United States on Wednesday, bringing the country’s cumulative total over the 450,000 mark, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Wednesday’s tally is still less than the country’s all-time high of 4,466 new deaths on Jan. 12, Johns Hopkins data shows.There were also 121,469 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed nationwide on Wednesday, down from a peak of 300,282 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, according to Johns Hopkins data.COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend last month.A total of 26,557,031 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 450,805 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. More than 33 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.