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Officers Say Studies of New U.S. Coronavirus Variant Are Inaccurate – NewsEverything NewYork

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a news conference in November.
Credit score…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Occasions

Studies of a extremely contagious new variant in the US, printed on Friday by a number of news retailers, are primarily based on speculative statements made by Dr. Deborah Birx and are inaccurate, in line with a number of authorities officers.

The misguided report originated at a latest assembly the place Dr. Birx, a member of the White Home coronavirus job drive, introduced graphs of the escalating circumstances within the nation. She instructed to different members of the duty drive {that a} new, extra transmissible variant originating within the U.S. would possibly clarify the surge, as one other variant did in Britain.

Her speculation made it right into a weekly report despatched to state governors. “This fall/winter surge has been at almost twice the speed of rise of circumstances because the spring and summer season surges. This acceleration suggests there could also be a USA variant that has advanced right here, along with the UK variant that’s already spreading in our communities and could also be 50% extra transmissible,” the report learn. “Aggressive mitigation have to be used to match a extra aggressive virus.”

Dismayed, officers on the C.D.C. tried to have the speculative statements eliminated, however have been unsuccessful, in line with three folks aware of the occasions.

C.D.C. officers didn’t agree along with her evaluation and requested to take away it however have been informed no, in line with one pissed off C.D.C. official, talking on situation of anonymity for worry of retaliation.

Dr. Birx couldn’t instantly be reached for remark.

The news of a attainable new variant first appeared Friday afternoon on CNBC, rapidly unfold to different retailers. Responding to media inquiries concerning the variant, the C.D.C. issued a proper assertion refuting the speculation.

“Researchers on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention are monitoring all rising variants of the coronavirus, together with in 5,700 samples collected in November and December,” in line with Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the company. “To this point, neither researchers nor analysts at C.D.C. have seen the emergence of a selected variant in the US,” he mentioned.

Among the many variants circulating within the U.S. are B.1.1.7, first recognized in Britain and now driving a surge and overwhelming hospitals there. The variant has been noticed in a handful of states, however the C.D.C. estimates that it accounts for lower than 0.5 % of circumstances within the nation to this point.

One other variant circulating at low ranges within the U.S., often known as B 1.346, incorporates a deletion that will weaken vaccines’ efficiency. “However I’ve seen nothing on elevated transmission,” mentioned Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist on the College of Arizona who found that variant.

That variant has been in the US for 3 months and in addition accounts for fewer than 0.5 % of circumstances, so it’s unlikely to be extra contagious than different variants, in line with a C.D.C. scientist who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to talk about the matter.

All viruses evolve, and the coronavirus isn’t any completely different. “Primarily based on scientific understanding of viruses, it’s extremely probably there are a lot of variants evolving concurrently throughout the globe,” Mr. McDonald, of the C.D.C., mentioned. “Nonetheless, it might take weeks or months to determine if there’s a single variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 fueling the surge in the US just like the surge in the UK.”

Carl Zimmer contributed reporting from New Haven and Noah Weiland from Washington D.C.

United States › United StatesOn Jan. 8 14-day change
New circumstances 300,594 +40%
New deaths 3,895 +29%

World › WorldOn Jan. 8 14-day change
New cases 858,458 +20%
New deaths 15,489 +15%

Where cases per capita are

Sergeant Brian Patrick McKnerney of the New Jersey State Police received a coronavirus vaccination in Rockaway, N.J., on Friday. 
Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

In a sharp break with the Trump administration, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. intends to release nearly all available doses of the coronavirus vaccine soon after he is inaugurated, rather than hold back millions of vials to guarantee second doses will be available.

The decision is part of an aggressive effort to “to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” the Biden transition team said on Friday. The vaccination plan, to be formally unveiled next week, also will include federally run vaccination sites in places like high school gyms and sports stadiums, and mobile units to reach high-risk populations.

The president-elect has vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during his first 100 days in office.

The decision to release the vast majority of vaccine doses set off a sharp debate among public health experts. The two vaccines that have received emergency approval each require two doses, and the Trump administration has so far been holding back about half of its supply to ensure that booster doses will be available for those already inoculated.

Officials at Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine program, had noted that doses would stop being sequestered after the first few weeks of rollout. But the announcement by the Biden administration sets the clearest benchmark yet for front-loading shots, then distributing them as they become available. And Warp Speed officials on Friday were critical of the president-elect’s decision.

The Food and Drug Administration — whose advice Mr. Biden has pledged to follow — has spoken out strongly against changing the dosing schedule, as some other countries have opted to do, calling such a move “premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence.” Some public health experts fear that second doses would be delayed by the decision.

But others called it a smart measure and said it was imperative to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible — so long as the second doses are not delayed. The Biden team said it was confident that the supply would be enough, and that Mr. Biden would invoke the Defense Production Act if necessary to bolster the supply of second doses.

“The president-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” said T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for the Biden transition team.

The announcement that Mr. Biden intends to free up extra doses coincided with a letter from eight Democratic governors — including Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, both of whom have clashed with President Trump — imploring the current administration to release all available doses to the states as soon as possible.

“The failure to distribute these doses to states who request them is unconscionable and unacceptable,” the governors wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times and sent Friday to the secretary of health, Alex M. Azar II, and Gen. Gustave F. Perna, who is in charge of vaccine distribution.

“We demand that the federal government begin distributing these reserved doses to states immediately,” the letter said.

Mr. Biden’s promise of 100 million shots in arms is an ambitious one, and the Trump administration’s rocky rollout — which Mr. Biden called “a travesty” on Friday — has not made his task any easier. As of Thursday, the Trump administration had shipped more than 21 million vaccine doses, and millions more were already in the federal government’s hands.

Yet only 5.9 million people had received a dose. State and local public health officials, already overwhelmed with rising infections, have been struggling to administer the vaccine to hospital workers and at-risk older Americans while most people remain in the dark about when they might be protected.

The biggest problem so far has not been a lack of vaccine, but the difficulties that state and local governments face in distributing the doses they have. Capacity and logistics, not shortages, are keeping vaccines from being administered.

Dr. Leana S. Wen, an emergency physician and public health expert at the George Washington University School of Public Health, said she was surprised and concerned about Mr. Biden’s new strategy.

“This is not the problem we’re trying to solve right now,” Dr. Wen said.

Officials at Operation Warp Speed were also critical.

Speaking at a news briefing on Friday, Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner, urged states that have used only a small part of their supply to begin vaccinating lower-priority groups, while still observing government guidelines. Most states are still prioritizing frontline health care workers and older Americans in group residential settings.

Expanding the targeted groups “will go a long way toward using these vaccines appropriately and getting them into the arms of individuals,” Dr. Hahn said.

An ambulance crew rushed a coronavirus disease patient into the emergency department at Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Friday.
Credit…Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

The United States broke its single-day record for new coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day on Friday with more than 300,000 cases, as public health officials warned the winter surge would only worsen.

It was the first time the country had crossed the 300,000-case mark, according to a New York Times database. Hospitalizations are also at a near-record high — 131,889, according to the Covid Tracking Project — and officials across the nation reported more than 3,890 new deaths on Friday, the third-highest daily tally of the pandemic.

“We believe things will get worse as we get into January,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease specialist, said in a radio interview early Thursday.

It didn’t take long for him to be proved right: Things immediately got worse.

By Thursday night, the United States had set a record for daily reported deaths, with at least 4,111, as well as a record 280,292 new infections. Those figures were an uncomfortable reminder that while many Americans were fixated on the political events roiling Washington after a mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, the pandemic hadn’t ceased wreaking havoc.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with McClatchy on Friday, warned that the riot could also end up significantly spreading the coronavirus.

“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event,” he said. “You had largely unmasked individuals in a nondistanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol.”

With hopes having been buoyed by the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines, then dimmed by the delays in rolling them out, Dr. Fauci urged Americans to be patient. In his interview with NPR, he said that any program so large in scale would hit stumbling blocks. And the holiday timing of the rollout may have added to the delays, he said.

“I think it would be fair to just observe what happens in the next couple of weeks,” Dr. Fauci said. “If we don’t catch up on what the original goal was, then we really need to make some changes about what we’re doing.”

Banner Health workers prepare doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in Phoenix on Monday.
Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Friday that their vaccine is effective against one of the mutations present in the new contagious variants identified in Britain and South Africa.

The study was posted online Thursday night on the web site Biorxiv. It has not yet gone through formal scientific review.

Independent experts said the findings are good news, but cautioned that each of the variants has several other potentially dangerous mutations that have not yet been investigated. So it’s possible that one of those mutations affects how well the vaccine works.

“It’s the first step in the right direction,” said Dr. John Brooks, the chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control Covid-19 emergency response. “I’m hoping that the additional work that comes out in the future will fall in line with that finding.”

The new variant, known as B.1.1.7, first raised concern in December, when British researchers realized that it was rapidly becoming more common among people with Covid-19. Since then, it has turned up in 45 countries.

Subsequent research has confirmed that it has the capacity to spread more easily from person to person. On Friday, Public Health England released a new study of B.1.1.7 in which researchers estimated that the variant is 30 to 50 percent more transmissible than other forms of the virus.

The viral lineage leading to B.1.1.7 has accumulated 23 mutations. Of particular concern to scientists are eight mutations that affect the gene for a protein called spike on the surface of coronaviruses. That’s because the viruses use the spike protein to grab onto human cells. It’s possible that one or more of them help B.1.1.7 invade cells more successfully.

One of these mutations, known as N501Y, is particularly worrisome. Experiments have demonstrated that it enables the virus to bind to cells more tightly. And it has also arisen in other lineages of the coronavirus, including a variant identified in South Africa in December. That variant, called B.1.351, rapidly spread through the country, and has spread to a dozen other countries so far.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch ran an experiment to see if the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine worked against viruses with the N501Y mutation. They found that in cells in the lab, the mutant virus could not infect human cells mixed with antibodies from vaccinated people. The antibodies latched onto the coronaviruses and blocked them from grabbing into cells. Despite the N501Y mutation, the experiment showed, the vaccine-generated antibodies were still able to latch onto the viruses.

“This indicates that the key N501Y mutation, which is found in the emerging U.K and South Africa variants, does not create resistance to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine induced immune responses,” the companies said in a press release.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is said to have considered stepping down after the violence at the Capitol this week.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Three of the nation’s top health officials — including Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration — considered resigning on Thursday in the wake of the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, according to two officials who heard about private conversations they had.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also contemplated leaving her post, according to the same pair of officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly. But Ms. Verma, Dr. Redfield and Dr. Hahn ultimately decided against departing, believing it would be too disruptive in a pandemic and could compromise some last-minute work at their agencies.

The conversations Ms. Verma, Dr. Redfield and Dr. Hahn had about resigning were part of a still-growing fury at the Department of Health and Human Services over the mob President Trump incited to storm the Capitol building. The fallout yielded at least one resignation: Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, the head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration at H.H.S., gave notice on Thursday.

In a senior staff meeting on Thursday, Dr. Hahn spoke of the “disgust” he had watching the events play out, according to one person who heard about his comments. And in a call with her staff on Friday, according to someone on the line, Ms. Verma said she was “sickened” by the riot after watching out of a window in the department’s headquarters off the National Mall.

Separately, in an interview with McClatchy on Friday, Dr. Redfield warned that the riot could also end up significantly spreading the coronavirus.

“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event,” he said. “You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol.”

Dr. Redfield, Dr. Hahn and Ms. Verma were part of an even larger group of health officials — including Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general — upset over Mr. Trump lashing out at Vice President Mike Pence for failing to disrupt the certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory, according to one of the officials who is familiar with their thinking. Mr. Pence oversees the White House’s coronavirus task force.




N.Y. Will Begin Allowing Essential Workers and Elderly to Get Vaccine

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said New Yorkers 75 and older and some essential workers, like teachers, police and public transit employees, will be able to schedule Covid-19 vaccinations starting Monday.

We’re going to accelerate the distribution. And what we’re going to do is add new distribution networks to supplement the hospitals. On Monday, they will begin accepting reservations for vaccinations. I’ll discuss in a moment. This is a very large group of people. And it can’t just be show up at the pharmacy. It’s going to be, much the way it was with Covid testing, go to a website, find out the location nearest you, make a reservation. The network will distribute to 1a and 1b. The new providers must prioritize their health care staff. 1b is a very large group, 3.2 million New Yorkers, in 1b — 1b, 870,000 teachers, 200,000 police and firefighters, 100,000 public safety workers, correction officers, etc.; 100,000 public transit workers, 1.4 million 75-year-olds. To finish 1a, we need one million doses. 1b, we need 3.2 million doses. Put 1a and 1b together, you need 4.2 million doses. We get 300,000 doses per week. At this rate, it will take us 14 weeks to do 1a and 1b — 14 weeks.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said New Yorkers 75 and older and some essential workers, like teachers, police and public transit employees, will be able to schedule Covid-19 vaccinations starting Monday.CreditCredit…Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

After days of criticism over New York State’s lagging vaccine distribution and a public fight with New York City’s mayor, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday that the state will begin allowing elderly New Yorkers and essential workers like teachers, police and public transit employees to schedule vaccinations as soon as Monday.

The move will clear the way for an additional 3.2 million New Yorkers to receive a vaccine, Mr. Cuomo said. Since inoculations began last month, an estimated 2.1 million health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities had been eligible.

Mr. Cuomo said it would take 14 weeks to vaccinate both groups based on the current rate at which the state was getting vaccine doses from the federal government.

Mr. Cuomo’s announcement came after repeated pressure from Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and other local officials, who have called on the state to allow more access to the vaccine as doses distributed to hospitals have gone unused.

Under these guidelines, health care workers would still have priority in any reservation system, according to Mr. Cuomo.

Mr. de Blasio said on Twitter after Mr. Cuomo’s announcement that the town would start giving pictures to metropolis staff and those that are 75 years and older on Monday.

Earlier, the mayor mentioned at a news convention that New York Metropolis had 270,000 vaccine doses accessible for New Yorkers who’re 75 and older.

All through the week, Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Cuomo and members of their administrations have been sparring publicly over the sluggish tempo of vaccinations within the metropolis. As of early Friday, solely 167,949 of 489,325 doses had been administered — about 34 %, which was decrease than the speed throughout New York State, which was about 50 %.

On Thursday, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo instructed the town wanted to maneuver extra rapidly to vaccinate them earlier than increasing inoculations to different teams.

At his news convention, Mr. Cuomo mentioned he nonetheless believed state and native officers wanted to prioritize well being care staff. He blamed the gradual tempo of vaccination on hospitals, saying that they had been gradual to speed up the speed at which they have been inoculating their staff.

In an effort to spice up the vaccination price, the state will permit the vaccine to be distributed outdoors hospitals, together with at personal physician’s places of work, native well being departments, ambulatory facilities and pharmacies, all of which would require appointments to distribute vaccines.

Statewide, 500 pharmacies shall be allowed to start offering vaccines subsequent week, Mr. Cuomo mentioned. The state well being division may even arrange a distribution web site subsequent Wednesday on the Jacob Ok. Javits Conference Middle in Manhattan, which served as a discipline hospital final spring.

Mr. Cuomo additionally referred to as on native well being departments to work with police, fireplace and lecturers unions to vaccinate these staff.

Credit score…Frank Franklin Ii/Related Press

Earlier within the week, Mr. de Blasio had introduced a plan to vaccinate hundreds of police and corrections staff this weekend, however Mr. Cuomo halted the trouble saying these staff weren’t but eligible.

“Throughout the state, individuals are asking for the liberty to vaccinate,” Mr. de Blasio mentioned at a news convention. “Now we have to imagine in some unspecified time in the future the state goes to listen to us.”

Mr. de Blasio additionally mentioned that the town deliberate to arrange vaccine websites for staff who certified for the following part of inoculation. These websites can be prepared on Monday, Mr. de Blasio mentioned.

In neighboring New Jersey, Gov. Philip D. Murphy mentioned on Friday that his state would start inoculating “legislation enforcement and fireplace professionals.”

On Friday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s transition group mentioned he plans to launch almost all accessible coronavirus vaccine doses to assist pace up distribution, which has been gradual throughout the nation.

The announcement coincided with a letter from eight Democratic governors — together with Mr. Cuomo and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, each of whom have clashed with President Trump — imploring the present administration to launch all accessible doses to the states as quickly as attainable.

Workers carried coronavirus test samples in Shijiazhuang, China, the capital of Hebei Province, on Friday.
Credit score…Mu Yu/Xinhua, through Related Press

The Chinese language authorities have imposed a stay-at-home order on greater than 17 million folks in two cities within the northern province of Hebei, an effort to cease the nation’s worst coronavirus flare-up in months from spreading to close by Beijing, the capital.

Officers within the two cities, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, informed residents on Friday to remain at residence for seven days to forestall additional unfold of an outbreak that has brought about 349 reported infections up to now week, principally in Shijiazhuang.

Residents of Shijiazhuang, a metropolis of 11 million that’s scheduled to host a number of occasions for the 2022 Winter Olympic Video games, have been barred earlier this week from leaving the town. Main highways have been blocked, prepare and bus stations closed and most flights canceled. On Saturday, subway, bus and taxi companies have been additionally suspended.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout Hebei have been examined in latest days, whereas individuals who just lately traveled to Shijiazhuang and Xingtai are being scrutinized. Chifeng, a metropolis within the northern area of Inside Mongolia, introduced on Friday that it was shifting to “wartime” footing after discovering that greater than 3,600 folks from the 2 Hebei cities had visited in latest days.

The stay-at-home order on Friday got here all of the sudden, leaving some residents with out time to stockpile meals. Some folks in Shijiazhuang mentioned that they had been instructed by their residential compounds to remain at residence for 14 days, every week longer than the federal government requires.

Hebei’s aggressive measures are a part of an ongoing effort by the authorities to maintain the variety of new infections in China near zero, notably forward of the Lunar New 12 months journey rush that’s anticipated in February. Well being officers on Saturday urged the general public to cut back journey through the upcoming vacation — which, for tens of thousands and thousands of migrant staff, is commonly their solely probability of the 12 months to return residence from their jobs in distant cities.

Getting the present outbreak beneath management is very essential, officers say, given the area’s proximity to Beijing, which borders Hebei. Earlier this week, Wang Dongfeng, Hebei’s Communist Social gathering secretary, pledged to make the province “the moat to safeguard Beijing’s political safety.”

The Federal Corrections Complex in Terre Haute, Ind.
Credit score…Bryan Woolston/Reuters

A federal decide in Indiana dominated that three federal executions set for subsequent week, together with the primary of a girl in almost 70 years, couldn’t go ahead until jail authorities made vital adjustments to coronavirus prevention measures through the course of.

The preliminary injunction, from Choose Jane Magnus-Stinson, got here in a class-action lawsuit introduced by two inmates on the federal jail advanced in Terre Haute, Ind., the place federal executions are held. The inmates, who should not on loss of life row however in a separate, medium-security a part of the advanced, argued, partially, that the 10 executions the Trump administration’s jail authorities have carried out since July uncovered them to a considerable threat of contracting the virus.

The Trump administration has appealed prior makes an attempt to dam or delay executions, and the Supreme Court docket has allowed each to proceed.

Throughout the pandemic, executions have drawn scrutiny for his or her potential to grow to be super-spreader occasions. Every brings about 50 to 125 folks to the Terre Haute jail advanced, in line with an estimate by the Bureau of Prisons, an arm of the Justice Division. These preventing to halt executions have contended that the variety of folks concerned is within the a whole lot.

The execution group consists of roughly 40 bureau staff, none of whom frequently work on the advanced. They don’t quarantine upon arrival in Indiana; an official beforehand argued in a court docket submitting that quarantining can be expensive, and would prolong their absences from their residence establishments. However they work together with dozens of the advanced’s staff who help with executions. A Bureau of Prisons official disclosed that, after one execution, eight group members had examined constructive for the virus.

The 2 males scheduled for execution subsequent week each examined constructive for the virus final month, together with many others held on loss of life row on the Terre Haute advanced. The Bureau of Prisons has reported 112 energetic circumstances of coronavirus amongst inmates there, and 1,051 prior infections, with 4 deaths.

The opposite prisoner scheduled for execution subsequent week, Lisa M. Montgomery, just isn’t housed on the all-male facility in Terre Haute with the overwhelming majority of loss of life row inmates, however on the federal medical middle in Carswell, Texas. Two of her legal professionals contracted the coronavirus after visiting her there, and a federal decide quickly blocked her execution from continuing.

In her ruling on Friday, Choose Magnus-Stinson specified that, for executions to proceed, employees individuals at them should put on masks and be required to be examined every day for 2 weeks if they arrive into shut contact with one other individual on the advanced, earlier than interacting with any inmates.

She additionally required the Bureau of Prisons to keep up contact logs and mentioned contact tracing should occur after any constructive check outcomes.

Officers have maintained that contact tracing just isn’t at all times attainable due to the confidentiality maintained for members of the execution group, who might face threats or harassment.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry, 31, in a game last month, found out during a game in Brooklyn Thursday that he tested positive for coronavirus.
Credit score…Invoice Streicher/USA Right now Sports activities, through Reuters

Within the newest problem for a significant North American sports activities league making an attempt to navigate the pandemic, the N.B.A.’s Philadelphia 76ers remained in New York on Friday to bear contact tracing and coronavirus testing after one among their gamers realized throughout a sport in opposition to the Nets on Thursday night time that he had examined constructive.

The constructive check end result was returned whereas the participant, Seth Curry, was on the Sixers’ bench through the first half of their loss to the Nets at Barclays Middle. The sport was allowed to proceed, elevating questions concerning the league’s well being and security protocols because it performs with out the restricted setup it used to complete final season in Florida.

The Sixers misplaced, 122-109, and a full analysis to find out whether or not Curry had been in shut contact with any Sixers gamers or employees members started in earnest the following morning — after the Nets had flown to Memphis for his or her subsequent sport.

The destiny of Philadelphia’s residence sport Saturday in opposition to Denver was not instantly clear. A league spokesman mentioned that there had been no adjustments made to the schedule.

Curry, held out of Thursday’s sport with an ankle harm, was faraway from the Sixers’ bench and positioned in isolation after being notified of the constructive check through the first half, in line with two folks aware of the circumstances who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to debate the small print publicly.

On Thursday, Curry had taken two every day coronavirus assessments as required by the N.B.A.’s well being and security protocols — one speedy check and one polymerase chain response check. The speedy check got here up as unfavorable, permitting Curry to be on the bench with a masks, in line with one of many folks aware of the state of affairs. The 76ers then obtained the results of Curry’s P.C.R. check and took him to an remoted room at Barclays Area as play continued. He left the sector individually from the remainder of the group.

In accordance with the N.B.A.’s protocols, a constructive check requires a group to “notify any shut contacts of the confirmed constructive case of their standing and acceptable subsequent steps,” together with retesting or quarantine. A participant that has examined constructive should isolate for a minimum of 10 days or return two consecutive unfavorable assessments a minimum of 24 hours aside earlier than he can take steps to return to play, similar to understanding by himself when no different gamers are current.

The Nets performed the Grizzlies, as scheduled, on Friday night time.

A deserted Covent Garden on Tuesday, the first day of England’s third lockdown due to the coronavirus.
Credit score…Andrew Testa for The New York Occasions

By the point Britain imposed its first pandemic lockdown final March, greater than 1,000 folks had entered the nation with the coronavirus and contaminated others, scientists reported on Friday in essentially the most detailed account to this point of the virus’s arrival and unfold by way of a nation.

Different nations with excessive charges of worldwide journey, like the US, probably had related numbers of introductions of the virus within the first months of the pandemic, the authors wrote.

The researchers, primarily based on the College of Oxford and the College of Edinburgh, analyzed greater than 50,000 genomes compiled by the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium, the most important such assortment on this planet. About 75 % of the contaminated vacationers who began chains of an infection within the nation throughout that early interval got here from Spain, France, or Italy; lower than 1 % got here from China.

The epidemic that these introductions created in Britain final spring was one of many world’s largest, consisting of greater than 1,000 distinct an infection chains, which scientists name lineages. Lineages established early within the 12 months have been bigger and extra extensively distributed than later arrivals, in addition to tougher to remove, the analysis group discovered.

The nation’s lockdown in late March lowered the quantity and variety of recent lineages, however the bigger and extra established ones continued to unfold; some 75 % of sampled viruses belong to the highest 20 % of the lineages, ranked by dimension.

“The diploma to which the surviving lineages contributed to the U.Ok.’s ongoing second epidemic” is beneath investigation, the authors famous.


A testing center in Hong Kong last month. Under the new rules, which take effect next week, birth partners will be allowed if they have tested negative for the coronavirus within the past 72 hours.
Credit score…Miguel Candela/EPA, through Shutterstock

Officers in Hong Kong on Friday reversed a contentious pandemic restriction that had barred beginning companions from supply rooms in public hospitals, forcing ladies to offer beginning alone.

Asserting the change, Dr. Au Yeung Kam-chuen, chairman of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority’s coordinating committee for obstetrics and gynecology, mentioned, “We take into account the accompanying individual might help soothe the feelings and cut back painkilling wants for pregnant ladies throughout supply, and won’t have an effect on the operation of the labor ward an excessive amount of.”

Officers mentioned the restriction had been lifted in response to suggestions from ladies and their companions, a lot of whom have been prevented from assembly their youngsters till a number of days after they have been born.

“Everyone seems to be simply completely overjoyed on the news, and truthfully somewhat bit surprised that each one our campaigning has labored,” mentioned Lindsey Ford, an expectant mom who had drawn consideration to the problem.

Below the brand new guidelines, which take impact subsequent week, beginning companions shall be allowed if they’ve examined unfavorable for the coronavirus inside the previous 72 hours. Girls in labor have been already required to be examined upon arrival on the hospital.

Hong Kong’s ban on beginning companions had been in place on and off for many of final 12 months, and was most just lately reintroduced over a month in the past amid a fourth wave of infections. It went in opposition to a suggestion by the World Well being Group that each one pregnant ladies, together with these suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus, have entry to the companion of their selection throughout labor and childbirth. Specialists have additionally warned in opposition to such restrictions within the British Medical Journal and elsewhere.

“I nonetheless really feel robbed,” mentioned Emma Whetnall, whose husband was not allowed to be current for the beginning of their first youngster final Might. “I really feel like that have was stolen from us.”

The pandemic has sophisticated being pregnant and childbirth for girls world wide, with many reporting unfavorable experiences together with nonconsensual procedures and compelled separation from newborns. Researchers have estimated that pandemic-related disruptions might end in tens of hundreds of further maternal deaths.

Hong Kong was among the many solely locations on this planet the place hospital restrictions nonetheless prolonged even to the supply room. In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York issued an govt order requiring all hospitals within the state to permit beginning companions in supply rooms after they have been barred by two main hospital methods in New York Metropolis.

In different developments the world over:

  • Iran’s supreme chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banned on Friday the import of any Covid-19 vaccines made in the US or Britain, repeating his conspiracy idea that vaccines made by Western nations couldn’t be trusted and will hurt Iranians. Iran’s Purple Crescent Society then introduced it will cancel the import of 150,000 donated doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The ban brought about outrage on social media, with some Iranians posting to Twitter that Mr. Khamenei doesn’t have the appropriate to impose his private views on public well being.

  • Britain granted emergency approval to the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna on Friday, making it the third shot authorised to be used there. The 17 million doses ordered from the Massachusetts-based firm should not anticipated to reach till spring. Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are already being administered to hundreds of individuals a day. Within the face of skyrocketing infections, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a purpose of vaccinating 13.9 million of the nation’s most weak folks by mid-February.

  • Indonesia’s influential council of Muslim clerics introduced on Friday {that a} coronavirus vaccine made by the Chinese language firm Sinovac was acceptable beneath Islamic legislation, eradicating a possible impediment to its use. The Indonesian authorities is anticipated to challenge an emergency authorization quickly that might allow use of the vaccine, with inoculations starting as quickly as subsequent week. The Indonesian Ulema Council, because the physique of clerics is understood, mentioned it had concluded that the vaccine was freed from pork materials and due to this fact halal.

  • Brisbane, Australia’s third-biggest metropolis, is heading right into a three-day lockdown after reporting its first case of a extremely transmissible coronavirus variant that was not in a quarantined worldwide traveler. A cleaner working at a quarantine middle examined constructive for the variant first recognized in Britain on Thursday. Officers say they consider the cleaner had been infectious however asymptomatic from Jan. 2, throughout which period she had been on public transport and visited retailers. Annastacia Palaszczuk, the state premier of Queensland, which incorporates Brisbane, mentioned that residents wouldn’t be allowed to go away residence besides to get groceries, train, work or present care, beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. till Monday night time.

People line up a vending machine filled with coronavirus tests at the University of California, San Diego.
Credit score…Mike Blake/Reuters

Merchandising machines have lengthy supplied sustenance for school college students. And, as of this week, college students and employees on the College of California, San Diego, can use them to choose up a self-administered nasal swab check to detect the coronavirus.

The college put in merchandising machines at 11 places throughout campus Jan. 2, in an effort to enhance entry to testing, which is required weekly for college kids and campus staff. Customers have 72 hours to return the free check equipment to a drop field close to a merchandising machine, in line with the college’s web site, and should use a campus app linked to their private data to scan and acquire their outcomes.

The assessments are solely really helpful for individuals who are asymptomatic or have gentle signs.

The merchandising machine technique has come as California is reeling from an explosion of virus circumstances, hospitalizations and deaths. San Diego County has a constructive check price of almost 14 %, however the College of California campus has managed to maintain the speed amongst college students at lower than 2 % over the previous two weeks, in line with the college’s tracker.

A patient arriving at a hospital in London on Thursday. New guidance in Britain encourages health care providers to use two arthritis drugs to treat severely sick Covid-19 patients.
Credit score…Andy Rain/EPA, through Shutterstock

The British authorities on Friday issued new steerage encouraging well being care suppliers to make use of two arthritis medicine to deal with severely sick Covid-19 sufferers, after the discharge of promising knowledge from a scientific trial that has not but been printed in a scientific journal.

The paper reported that therapy regimens that included the medicine tocilizumab or sarilumab lowered the loss of life price amongst Covid sufferers in intensive care to about 27 %, in contrast with 36 % amongst sufferers who didn’t take the medicine. Primarily based on these outcomes, about one loss of life can be prevented for each 12 I.C.U. sufferers handled early with the medicine. The entire sufferers within the trial obtained the medicine inside 24 hours of coming into intensive care.

“So far as interventions go, that’s actually good,” mentioned Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious-disease doctor on the College of Alberta, Canada.

The findings make the pair of medicine, which act on the immune system, among the solely remedies — aside from steroids like dexamethasone — which have lowered Covid deaths in a rigorously designed scientific trial. (Many of the new research’s individuals additionally took steroids throughout their hospital keep.)

The massive dip in mortality proven within the trial of about 800 sufferers has caught some consultants abruptly. Different research testing the consequences of tocilizumab and sarilumab have led to disappointment, exhibiting little to no profit in folks hospitalized for Covid-19.

As a result of all therapy trials are run with their very own quirks and affected person populations, “it’s troublesome to match throughout completely different research,” mentioned Dr. Emma Kaplan-Lewis, an infectious-disease doctor at NYC Well being + Hospitals who has helped to conduct trials on tocilizumab, together with one which confirmed no enchancment in affected person survival. She was not concerned within the new research.

“My normal impression is that tocilizumab and sarilumab do work for some sufferers,” Dr. Kaplan-Lewis added. “However there’s a candy spot — it’s not for everyone, always.”

Whereas many remedies for Covid-19 goal the coronavirus itself, medicine like tocilizumab and sarilumab work to quiet the immune system which, when triggered by an an infection, can overreact and begin to destroy the physique’s personal tissues. This immunological “pleasant fireplace” is believed to fire up most of the most critical circumstances of Covid-19.

Though the brand new research has not but been vetted by consultants for formal publication, its findings have been compelling sufficient to immediate a shift in steerage in Britain, the place officers have partnered with Roche, a producer of tocilizumab, to maintain hospitals stocked with the drug.




E.U. Secures 300 Million Extra Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Fee, introduced on Friday that it has secured further doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, sufficient vaccines to inoculate 80 % of the bloc’s inhabitants.

As you understand, we now have, proper now, entry to 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. Now, the excellent news is we now have agreed with BioNTech-Pfizer to increase this contract. With the brand new settlement, we might buy a complete of as much as a further 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. In different phrases, this may permit us to double the quantity of doses of BioNTech-Pfizer. And I’m notably happy that 75 million of this order will already be accessible as of quarter two, onwards. The remaining would then be delivered within the third and within the fourth quarter.

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Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Fee, introduced on Friday that it has secured further doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, sufficient vaccines to inoculate 80 % of the bloc’s inhabitants.Credit scoreCredit score…Lena Mucha for The New York Occasions

The European Fee, the chief arm of the European Union, introduced on Friday that it had secured a contract for a further 200 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with an choice so as to add one other 100 million, in an obvious response to the rising criticism that the bloc had ordered too little and too late.

“Europe can have greater than sufficient vaccines in a dependable timeframe,” Ursula von der Leyen, the fee’s president, mentioned throughout a news convention on Friday, stressing that the mixed orders of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can be ample to inoculate 80 % of the European Union’s inhabitants of about 450 million.

Defending the fee’s actions on ordering doses, Ms. von der Leyen mentioned that in the summertime it had been not possible to know “which vaccines would have made it,” however that the growth of Pfizer’s manufacturing capability “illustrates it was proper to guess on this specific horse.”

The brand new contract might double the variety of Pfizer-BioNTech doses secured by the European Union from 300 million to 600 million, with the primary 75 million prepared for dispatch within the spring, although it’s now as much as member nations to put their particular person orders. The unique contract, finalized in November, secured 200 million doses with the choice for a further 100 million, which was triggered by the fee in late December.

The bloc additionally ordered 160 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which was authorised by the European Union drug regulator on Wednesday, transferring up a choice that had been scheduled for later in January.

The European Fee has come beneath fireplace for not ordering a ample variety of vaccines, and has been blamed for the gradual rollout in its 27 member nations. The European Medicines Company, the regulator, has additionally been denounced for not but having began a evaluation of the College of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has just lately been authorised to be used in nations together with Britain and India.

The fee has taken the lead in approving, negotiating and securing the vaccines on behalf of its members, and it has pushed again in opposition to the criticism, highlighting that the choice on what number of doses to purchase was made by nationwide governments, and that the rollout itself was strictly nationwide enterprise.

“All of the members do their utmost to maneuver ahead with the vaccination plan,” Ms. von der Leyen mentioned on Friday. “The start is at all times troublesome, it’s a logistical problem.”

Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine ready for use at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif.
Credit score…Jae C. Hong/Related Press

Edward Goldberg’s cellphone wouldn’t cease ringing. Not solely was the concierge physician on Manhattan’s Higher East Aspect fielding calls from sufferers who went to St. Bart’s or Aspen — the knowledge of public-health officers be damned — and got here again with Covid, he was listening to from wholesome folks too. That they had an pressing want for the coronavirus vaccine, and certainly there was a technique to acquire entry to it instantly.

One other contingent was calling Dr. Goldberg’s workplace inquiring about membership in his apply, assuming that they’d then be fast-tracked for the vaccine. Concierge medication entails the fee of annual charges — in Dr. Goldberg’s case, $20,000 a 12 months — for what is actually limitless entry to a health care provider’s care. When requested how rapidly somebody would possibly obtain a vaccine, Dr. Goldberg explains that New York State is levying large penalties in opposition to any medical outfit that tries to sport the protocols for distribution.

It was inevitable that in an period marked by inequity and radically conflicting interpretations of fact that the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine can be marked by a lot delusion on a number of fronts. On the one hand are the wealthy, who’re accustomed to discovering workarounds at any time when they need one thing that’s in brief provide and see no need for a special method on the subject of defending themselves from a illness that has largely devastated the underclass.

After which there are the skeptics who consider that the vaccine is hassle. In a survey of 1,117 People, performed in early December, 1 / 4 of respondents mentioned they’d not take the vaccine when it turned accessible to them, whereas one other quarter mentioned that they weren’t certain.

Somewhat over every week in the past, Lara Devgan posted a video of herself getting the vaccine on Instagram. A Park Avenue plastic surgeon, she’d been listening to from a few of her sufferers — those that have had beauty fillers — that they have been fearful the vaccine would trigger momentary facial swelling.

“As somebody who performs injectable facial fillers — who likes them and makes use of them myself — I consider the vaccine is secure,’’ Dr. Devgan mentioned, “and the idea about worrying about how your face seems to be just isn’t a cause to not get the vaccine.”

Dermot F. Shea, the New York City police commissioner, in Times Square last month.
Credit score…Johnny Milano for The New York Occasions

The New York Metropolis police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, has examined constructive for the coronavirus, the Police Division introduced on Friday.

“The police commissioner has examined constructive for Covid,” Deputy Commissioner Richard Esposito mentioned in a press release. “He’s doing nicely. He’s in contact together with his govt employees frequently. He’s staying residence and he’s operating the Police Division remotely.”

Mr. Shea had beforehand been taking the required precautions whereas assembly with metropolis officers and neighborhood members, mentioned a police official who spoke on the situation of anonymity. Mr. Shea examined constructive within the final 24 hours, after he realized that some folks he met with had examined constructive and he displayed gentle coronavirus signs.

He was wholesome sufficient to do business from home, the official added.

Town has been hit arduous by the coronavirus, with greater than 25,000 folks dying from the illness there, in line with a New York Occasions database. The seven-day common constructive check price within the metropolis has additionally been rising.

The virus has additionally run rampant within the Police Division. Officers mentioned that 463 officers had examined constructive for the virus to this point within the month of January and 48 have died for the reason that starting of the pandemic.

Mayor Invoice de Blasio and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo have criticized cops for not carrying masks through the pandemic.

In March, when private protecting tools like masks was in brief provide, Mr. Shea defended officers, saying that “typically talking, it’s higher to have the masks on the folks which might be sick versus officers strolling round on the street.”

By October Mr. Shea was urging officers to “double down on security precautions” and “be associate, and inform your associate to throw on a masks.”

This week Mr. de Blasio pushed the governor to permit the town to vaccinate extra Police Division staff. Mr. de Blasio had hoped to increase the pool of individuals eligible for the vaccine to incorporate 25,000 staff of the Police Division, with 10,000 to obtain the vaccine as quickly as this week.

Mr. Cuomo mentioned on Thursday that there was not but sufficient vaccine in New York to supply it to a broader swath of the populace.

Mr. Shea, a veteran of the Police Division who began as a patrol officer within the Bronx in 1991, took over as police commissioner in December 2019 after serving as Chief of Detectives.

His first 12 months on the helm of the nation’s largest police drive has been tumultuous, rocked not solely by the pandemic, however by a pointy rise in violent crime and by main protests over police brutality, which began after the killing of George Floyd by the hands of the Minneapolis police in Might.

People wait in line for the Covid-19 vaccine in Miami on Wednesday.
Credit score…Scott McIntyre for The New York Occasions

Earlier than the pandemic, the net ticketing platform Eventbrite was a spot to search out tickets to performances, artwork reveals or pub crawls. Now, public well being officers are utilizing the web site to arrange coronavirus vaccination appointments.

Eventbrite has been utilized in a number of counties in Florida, Vice reported, and mentions of Eventbrite vaccination tickets have popped up somewhere else, too — just like the web sites for Sevier County, Tenn., and the town of Allen, Texas. Even well being care suppliers in Britain have been utilizing the platform to schedule pictures.

Mai Miller, 48, of Merritt Island, Fla., scoured the web site final week in the hunt for a vaccination appointment for her 68-year-old mom. “It was only a scramble,” she mentioned. “Like musical chairs with 20 chairs and 4,000 folks.”

Using the platform has additionally raised considerations about accessibility: Not everybody has web entry or is aware of easy methods to work Evenbrite. And in Florida, scams have already been reported. Eventbrite has been used to cost cash for vaccination slots that turned out to be bogus.

These glitches are, in fact, half of a bigger drawback: Coronavirus vaccine distribution in the US and elsewhere is an unprecedented challenge with huge operational challenges.

“It’s annoying for my folks,” mentioned Greg Foster, the director of emergency administration for Nassau County, Fla. Officers there used Eventbrite, he mentioned, as a result of the county’s personal web sites didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with the demand — to say nothing of the restricted provide of vaccines.

Heathrow Airport last month. Britain and many other countries are adding travel restrictions to keep out more transmissible variants of the virus. 
Credit score…Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA, through Shutterstock

Issues concerning the quickly transmissible variants of the coronavirus present in Britain and South Africa have prompted various nations to introduce a requirement for passengers to check unfavorable for the virus earlier than they journey.

Australia and Canada will start requiring unfavorable assessments from all vacationers this week, whereas Eire will start requiring proof of a unfavorable end result for vacationers simply from Britain or South Africa.

A number of the world’s strictest entry necessities, these in Hong Kong, just lately acquired harder, with the territory now requiring not solely a unfavorable check end result but additionally extending its mandated quarantine at a government-designated resort to a few weeks.

Many nations inside the European Union, similar to Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, require vacationers from nations deemed high-risk to supply a unfavorable check end result earlier than or on arrival, and Brazil and Russia have additionally made a unfavorable check a requirement for entry.

Britain, for its half, mentioned on Friday that it will additionally require proof of unfavorable assessments from worldwide vacationers, aiming to forestall infections from overseas from including to the drastic rise in its home circumstances. Since early December, the nation’s seven-day common of recent every day infections has quadrupled, rising from round 14,000 to greater than 57,000.

Deaths are additionally on the rise, with a toll of 1,162 introduced on Thursday. And the Nationwide Well being Service’s hospitals in London are beneath such pressure that the mayor, Sadiq Khan, on Friday put some responding businesses on emergency footing.

Nearly all inbound passengers, together with Britons, who arrive by boat, airplane or prepare shall be required to have a check within the 72 hours earlier than departing for the nation, British officers mentioned on Friday, with a advantageous of 500 kilos, or about $680, for individuals who fail to conform. The brand new guidelines are anticipated to return into drive subsequent week.

Even with a unfavorable check, these arriving in Britain will nonetheless must quarantine until they’ve come from a rustic judged to be low-risk. Vacationers can shortening the interval of self-isolation by taking one other check a minimum of 5 days after arrival.

The already sputtering financial rebound went into reverse in December, as employers laid off staff amid rising coronavirus circumstances and waning authorities support.

U.S. employers reduce 140,000 jobs in December, the Labor Division mentioned Friday. It was the primary internet decline in payrolls since final spring’s mass layoffs, and although the December loss was nowhere close to that scale, it represented a discouraging reversal for the once-promising restoration. The U.S. economic system nonetheless has about 10 million fewer jobs than earlier than the pandemic started.

Job development reversed for the primary time since April

Cumulative change in all jobs since earlier than the pandemic

By Ella Koeze·Seasonally adjusted·Supply: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The December losses have been closely concentrated in leisure and hospitality companies, which have been hit particularly arduous by the pandemic. The trade reduce almost half one million jobs in December, whereas sectors much less uncovered to the pandemic continued so as to add staff.

The unemployment price was unchanged at 6.7 %, down sharply from its excessive of almost 15 % in April however nonetheless near double the three.5 % price in the identical month a 12 months earlier.

“We’re shedding floor once more,” mentioned Diane Swonk, chief economist on the accounting agency Grant Thornton. “Most notably, that is nonetheless very a lot a low-wage recession, and the losses have been the place we first noticed them when the pandemic hit.”

Unemployment price

By Ella Koeze·Seasonally adjusted·Supply: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hiring has slowed each month since June, and the economic system misplaced greater than 9 million jobs in 2020 as a complete, the primary calendar-year decline since 2010 and the worst on a proportion foundation for the reason that aftermath of World Warfare II.

Congress final month handed a $900 billion reduction bundle that can present momentary assist to households and companies and will enhance the broader economic system. And within the longer run, the arrival of coronavirus vaccines ought to permit the return of exercise that has been suppressed by the pandemic.

However the vaccine and the help got here too late to forestall a pointy slowdown in development.

“We did have a pullback within the economic system,” mentioned Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Financial institution of America. “If stimulus was handed earlier, perhaps that would have been averted.”

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