The US has administered nearly 30M doses of Covid-19 vaccine
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, on January 30. Johnny Milano/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The US has administered more than 29.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reported that 29,577,902 doses have been administered -- about 59% of the 49,932,850 doses distributed.
That means 24 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 5.25 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
States have 72 hours to report vaccine data, so data published by the CDC may be delayed.
Australia reopens travel bubble for people traveling from New Zealand
Australia will once again allow quarantine-free travel for visitors from New Zealand on Sunday afternoon, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a news release.
"In making this recommendation, the Acting Chief Medical Officer noted there have been no further confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the community in New Zealand since the initial three cases originated from transmission within hotel quarantine," the release read.
"Green zone flights" will start on Sunday 2 p.m. local time, the release added.
The Australian government previously suspended quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders arriving in Australia on January 25, after a South African variant of Covid-19 was detected in a woman after 14 days of quarantine in New Zealand.
"The Acting CMO notes flights from New Zealand are sufficiently low risk given New Zealand’s strong public health response to Covid-19," the release said. Out of caution, pre and post-flight screening will be implemented, and people traveling to Australia must have been in New Zealand for 14 days prior to leaving.
The one-way travel bubble is only for people traveling from New Zealand to Australia. New Zealand still enforces a 14-day quarantine for foreign travelers.
47 min ago
US records more than 136,000 new cases on Saturday
The United States reported 136,252 new Covid-19 cases and 2,640 additional related deaths on Saturday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
That raises the national total to at least 26,069,046 cases and 439,439 deaths since the pandemic began.
The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases.
At least 49,932,850 vaccine doses have been distributed so far, and at least 29,577,902 doses of vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
See CNN's live tracker of cases here.
59 min ago
US hospitalizations fall below 100,000 for the first time in nearly two months
From CNN’s Amanda Watts and Hollie Silverman
For the first time in nearly two months, current Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States have fallen below 100,000, according to data from The Covid Tracking Project.
On Saturday, the US reported 97,561 Covid-19 hospitalizations, the data shows.
Before then, the last time the US had fewer than 100,000 current hospitalizations was December 1, 2020 -- 60 days ago.
On December 1, the United States had a 7-day average of roughly 163,000 new cases and 1,540 reported deaths per day, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Right now, the US has roughly the same new case average, but sees more than double the average daily deaths, with over 3,000 a day.
Hospitalizations have been dropping consistently since the start of the year, according to CTP. This past week was the first week since November 5 that no state has reached a new record high for current hospitalizations, according to CTP.
1 hr 41 min ago
Maryland reports case of Covid-19 South African variant
From CNN’s Chuck Johnston
Maryland state health officials have confirmed a case of a more contagious coronavirus strain first identified in South Africa, according to a press release from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.
The announcement comes after South Carolina identified the first known case of the Covid-19 variant in the US earlier this week.
The Maryland case “involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region," Hogan's office said.
"The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely. Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined and tested,” Hogan’s office added in its statement.
WHO team goes to wholesale market in Wuhan during investigation of Covid-19 origin
From CNN's Sandi Sidhu in Hong Kong
A team of World Health Organization (WHO) investigators examining the origins of the coronavirus pandemic visited the Baishazhou Wholesale Market in Wuhan on Sunday, said Dr. Hung Nguyen-Viet, a member of the group.
The team of 13 WHO experts were released from their 14-day quarantine on Thursday and have begun their investigations into the virus origins. The team visited the cold storage area of the market Sunday, and talked with market management about how to treat and test imported food, said Nguyen-Viet.
"In the afternoon we will visit Huanan Seafood Market," he told CNN. "I hope we will talk with market management officials and ask questions about (the outbreak's) history. We are keenly interested to go there as this is likely where the first linked cases emerged. We know there were more varieties of food there."
The investigation comes a year after the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown from the pandemic -- but some experts have expressed skepticism over just how much the team will be able to uncover.
An earlier report, published in February 2020 by a WHO team in China, found that "key knowledge gaps remain" about the virus. The report endorsed previous findings that the virus appeared to have originated in animals, with the likely first outbreak at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.
Pakistan battles tsunami of Covid-19 patients with few vaccines in sight
Keeping vigil outside the hospital ward in Karachi, Daniyal Ameen watched his father breathing through a ventilator via a live video link from the intensive care unit (ICU).
He came every day to see his father, 73-year-old Muhammad Ameen, as he spent weeks on oxygen battling Covid-19.
The video link was set up at the private South City Hospital in Karachi to enable relatives to feel closer to their loved ones in the ICU, as visits inside that facility are prohibited.
The screen is the closest Ameen has come to seeing his father for about 18 months. The 33-year-old flew back to Pakistan from his home in Melbourne, Australia, when his dad was hospitalized.
"Seeing him on a screen like that was pretty traumatizing for me," said Ameen. "We told him that yes, I am here, and I want to see him healthy and smiling back again."
But Ameen's father didn't survive. Instead, he became one of thousands of Pakistanis to die from the virus.
Daniyal Ameen and his father, Muhammad Ameen, at the Australian Open in 2020. Muhammad passed away from Covid-19 after being on a ventilator for two weeks in the ICU of South City Hospital in Karachi.
For many countries struggling in the Western world as winter cases surge, the arrival of vaccines has provided a light at the end of the tunnel. But in places like Pakistan, that tunnel remains in near darkness.
"The vaccine is not here in this country for the foreseeable future," says Dr. Nashwa Ahmad, Coordinator of Covid Services and Research and Development at South City Hospital.
"That means our health care workers still have to continue to do their jobs, (and) endless hours, without the protection of the vaccine.
"A vaccine would definitely have given us the additional boost we needed to continue on with fighting the disease."
The hospital has been overwhelmed with "a tsunami of patients," Ahmad says. The three Covid-19 ICU wards are full, and more patients are waiting in ambulances outside.
"We are full, we have patients waiting, we have families who are suffering, we have patients at home, sick patients at home, patients who are on oxygen, we just don't have space in hospitals," she says.
A sign at South City Hospital, a private hospital in Karachi which has stopped taking Covid-19 patients as all its ICU beds are full.
So far, Pakistan has officially recorded more than half a million cases of Covid-19, and more than 11,600 related deaths -- although health officials tell CNN that testing is not sufficient to reflect the true picture.
Pakistan has secured 1.2 million doses from China's Sinopharm, with 500,000 expected to arrive this weekend, but they will barely make a dent in vaccinating the country's population of 216 million. Health workers in major cities are due to start receiving shots next week, and negotiations are underway for vaccines from other manufacturers, says Asad Umar, the chief of the National Command and Operations Centre.
COVAX, he added. "Countries are looking at COVAX and don't see yet vaccines arriving, while they see some countries are making bilateral deals, and that creates kind of a panic," Schneider said.Pakistan's health minister confirmed this week that his country will also receive 17 million doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine in 2021.
About 6 million of those doses are expected in the country in March with the remaining batches following in the second quarter of the year.
A 'humongous logistical challenge'
Pakistan is also pinning its hopes on COVAX, the global initiative to provide up to 2 billion vaccine doses to the most vulnerable 20% of the world's poorest populations, formed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
"This is an unprecedented effort," said Aurélia Nguyen, managing director of COVAX. "We have never rolled out this number of vaccines in this short (a) time."
The ambitious COVAX program is aimed at ensuring equitable vaccines for all, to end the "acute" phase of the pandemic. Rollouts are expected to start in February, although the exact timeline depends on regulatory approvals of vaccines in each country -- as well as their readiness to administer them properly.
Such an approach presents a "humongous logistical challenge," especially for vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech which require ultra-cold chain refrigeration, said Benjamin Schreiber, deputy chief of the global immunization program at the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF will help deliver the vaccines on the ground in d
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