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Jan. 26 Coronavirus updates: Global cases top 100 million, U.S. leads for most cases

President Biden increased his Covid vaccine goal to 1.5 million shots administered a day, deemed more likely due to states ramping up vaccine distribution.
Image: People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk along an underpass Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Tokyo.
People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk along a Tokyo underpass Tuesday.Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Live coverage of this blog has ended, please click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19.

President Joe Biden is planning to vaccinate even more Americans against Covid-19 in the coming weeks by administering 150 million shots over the next 100 days, equivalent to 1.5 million a day.

Biden is asking Congress for more than $400 billion to fund the effort. "It is going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we've ever tried in this country, but I think we can do that," he said Monday.

The virus has killed more than 418,000 people and infected upward of 25 million across the U.S., according to an NBC News tracker.

Poorer countries will lag 6 to 8 months behind richer nations in vaccine rollout


Poorer countries face a best-case scenario of a 6 to 8 month lag behind richer nations in getting access to Covid-19 vaccines to protect their populations against the pandemic disease, the philanthropist Bill Gates said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Gates called the rollout of the first Covid-19 shots a "super hard allocation problem" that was putting pressure on global institutions, governments and drugmakers.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has so far committed some $1.75 billion to the global response to the pandemic, including via funds for the COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative co-led by the World Health Organization, and via direct support for some vaccine makers. It hopes to start some deliveries next month.

"The total number of doses that GAVI (and COVAX) will have in the first half of the year is still very modest," he said. "Yes, they will get some doses out, but if you compare when they will reach the same percentage of coverage as the rich countries — that's where I'd say it's six to eight months, best case."

Covid-19 home test vending machine unveiled in New York City

900 Holocaust survivors have died of Covid-19, Israel says

Paul Goldman

Yasmine Salam and Paul Goldman

Around 900 people who survived the Holocaust died from Covid-19 in Israel during the pandemic, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

The figures were released Tuesday, a day ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance to honor the millions of European Jews and other groups killed during the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945.

Some 5,300 Holocaust survivors contracted the virus last year, Israel reported. All Holocaust survivors are over the age of 75 — World War II ended 75 years ago — and approximately 17 percent are over 90. There are around 179,600 survivors living in Israel.

Japan prepares for vaccine drive

Image: Participants take part in a mock inoculation exercise on Wednesday in Kawasaki, Japan as the country prepares for a Covid-19 vaccination drive. It's the last major industrial country to start vaccinations.
Participants take part in a mock inoculation exercise on Wednesday in Kawasaki, Japan as the country prepares for a Covid-19 vaccination drive. It's the last major industrial country to start vaccinations.Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters

Over 110,000 establishments out of business as pandemic ravages bar, restaurant industry

'Snake oil' salesman in Washington state administered untested Covid-19 vaccines, officials say

A man in Washington state was arrested on federal charges for allegedly administering an unauthorized Covid-19 vaccine to patients.

Johnny Stine, of Redmond, traveled across the country charging patients between $400 to $1,000 for each shot, the Justice Department said in a news release. He was arrested Thursday on a charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.

Stine, a self-described biotech executive, began peddling the illegal vaccine in March.

U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said the vaccine was "untested, untried and potentially unsafe."

Click here to read the full story. 

CDC officials say schools can re-open during pandemic — but precautions are crucial

Schools should reopen as soon as possible if social distancing and mask-wearing can be maintained to keep in-person learning safe, health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published Tuesday.

The research, published online in the journal JAMA, provides a framework for how to open schools safely while limiting the spread of Covid-19. Research supports "a path forward to maintain or return primarily or fully to in-person instructional delivery," according to the study.

The recommendations provide some clarity about a contentious topic and offer much-needed guidance for local officials, school administrators and parents.

But opening schools safely also requires controlling the virus's spread within communities, the scientists said.

Click here to read the full story. 

Some states ease Covid restrictions amid growing concern over new strains

Wisconsin pharmacist who tried to destroy 500 Covid vaccine doses agrees to plead guilty

The Wisconsin hospital pharmacist who was fired and arrested for intentionally trying to destroy hundreds of Covid-19 vaccine doses has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges, authorities said on Tuesday.

Steven Brandenburg was fired from the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin, in December after the hospital said he admitted he "intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.” Brandenburg, a pharmacist, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard, the Department of Justice said.

The charges carry with them a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count.

“According to the plea agreement, Brandenburg stated that he was skeptical of vaccines in general and the Moderna vaccine specifically,” the department said Tuesday. “Brandenburg had communicated his beliefs about vaccines to his co-workers for at least the past two years.”

Click here to read the full story. 

Biden administration orders additional 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine

The Biden administration is working to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, a move that could provide enough doses for nearly every American to get fully inoculated by the end of the summer, President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

The government is seeking 100 million doses from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna, an order that would be made available over the summer. This is in addition to the 400 million combined doses the companies had already committed to providing to the U.S., Biden said. He said he expects to be able to confirm the purchase soon.

"It will be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans to beat the pandemic," Biden said.

Read the full story here.

Philadelphia ends contract with vaccination provider over for-profit status change

The city of Philadelphia has terminated its partnership with Philly Fighting COVID, a group that ran the city’s biggest Covid-19 vaccination site, after discovering the organization had changed its corporate status from nonprofit to for-profit, abruptly stopping offering testing, and updated the privacy policy on its vaccination sign up website in a way that could allow for the sale of user data.

Three weeks ago, the city’s Department of Public Health announced a “unique public/private partnership” with Philly Fighting COVID, according to NBC Philadelphia, and urged residents to pre-register for vaccination on the group’s website.

The city and the group together ran a mass vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the relationship was publicized by national media, including NBC News.

Read the full story.

Some Latino groups more wary of Covid vaccine, so messaging needs to be tailored, experts say

Experts are urging Biden administration officials to better understand the source behind Covid-19 vaccine skepticism across different Latino communities to improve vaccine rollout strategies nationwide.

Surveys have found an "element of fear and mistrust" about the vaccine, but such fears manifest differently across different Latino subgroups, according to researchers Gabriel Sanchez and Juan Peña in a Brookings Institution analysis published Monday.

At least 28 percent of all Latinos surveyed by the Latino advocacy nonprofit UnidosUS in October reported that they were unlikely to get vaccinated for Covid-19. Latinos of Puerto Rican and Mexican origins were the most likely to report they would not get vaccinated, overwhelmingly citing concerns over potential negative long-term health effects and side effects from the vaccine, according to disaggregated data from the UnidosUS survey.

"Given that Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans are the two largest national origin groups among Latinos, with roughly 41 million Latinos from these groups living in the United States, this is a significant concern for the ability the reach the goal of herd immunity through high rates of vaccine uptake across the population," Sanchez and Peña said.

Read the full story here.

North Carolina running out of vaccine doses

North Carolina has doled out 95 percent of its allotted coronavirus vaccines, with demand now on the verge of eclipsing scheduled supply, officials said Tuesday. 

A new shipment of 120,000 doses is expected to arrive in the Tar Heel State on Wednesday, though officials are lobbying for a boost.

The state's vaccination efforts should show the "federal government we are ready to take on more vaccine and we need those additional doses now," Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson says he's 'deeply sorry' for Covid-19 deaths, takes 'full responsibility'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday he was "deeply sorry" for every life taken by Covid-19 as he insisted his government has done "everything we could" to ease the pain of the pandemic.

Johnson, who has been sharply criticized for his response to the coronavirus crisis, said he offered his "deepest condolences" to the relatives of Covid-19 victims, according to the PA Media news agency.

The prime minister's remarks came as the United Kingdom topped 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

“I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as I was Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done," Johnson said, according to PA Media.

In regards to the national death toll exceeding 100,000, Johnson said it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic: the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and for so many relatives the missed chance to even say goodbye."

California officials take control over state's slow vaccine rollout

California is changing its vaccine delivery system to give the state more control over who gets doses amid growing frustration over a slow rollout that has forced people to wait hours, and months, for their shots.

Under the new system, state officials will work with third party administrators to allocate vaccines directly to providers, including county public health systems, pharmacies, health systems, public hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies and pop-up sites.

California will also launch a new online portal, called My Turn, where residents can make vaccine appointments and check their eligibility status.

Starting next month, health care workers, individuals 65 and older and people who work in education, child care, emergency services, food and agriculture will be eligible to start making appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine, pending availability. Future groups will become eligible based on age.

“Our state and county public health leaders have done the important groundwork to get California’s vaccination plan up and running and we are grateful to them and will continue to partner with them,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “We have learned that to accelerate pace we need to dial up the scale of our efforts to ensure vaccine supply goes into arms as quickly as it arrives in the state.

Global Covid-19 cases top 100 million as new strains emerge

Global Covid-19 cases topped 100 million Tuesday as virus mutations continue to create new concerns, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The milestone comes less than three months after the world hit 50 million cases, and just over a year after the first case was diagnosed in the U.S.

The U.S. remains the leader in recorded cases of the coronavirus with more than 25 million infections. India ranks second with more than 10.5 million cases, and Brazil third with almost nine million, according to John Hopkins.

Click here to read the full story.

Boston set to reopen some indoor facilities at limited capacity

The City of Boston will reopen some indoor facilities at 25% capacity on February 1 following their closure earlier this month.

Among those allowed to reopen at limited capacity are indoor fitness centers and health clubs, movie theaters, museums, aquariums, and indoor recreational and athletic facilities.

The move into Step one of Phase three comes after the city closed the facilities back in early January due to a spike in COVID cases.

Indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25.

L.A. sheriffs super-spreader task force break up underground parties

Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Super-Spreader Taskforce are breaking up underground parties that continue to take place despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 5,000 L.A. residents since the start of the year. 

Nearly 90 people were arrested over the weekend at two separate parties, the sheriff's office said. In videos posted to Twitter, large groups of partygoers, many of them not wearing masks, are seen standing in the street as law enforcement officers clear the houses and sidewalks. 

Earlier this month, 182 people were arrested at two separate warehouse parties, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Sheriff "Alex Villanueva has made it clear he will seek out & take law enforcement action against ALL underground party events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County, who fall under the Health Orders of the County’s Department of Public Health," the department said in a tweet. "The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of #COVID19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations."

Boston Marathon tentatively set for October if Covid-19 allows

The organizers of the Boston Marathon said Tuesday they had selected Oct. 11 as the date for this year’s race, if pandemic restrictions in Massachusetts allow it. 

“We announce the 2021 Boston Marathon date with a cautious optimism, understanding full well that we will continue to be guided by science and our continued collaborative work with local, city, state, and public health officials,” Tom Grilk, president of the Boston Athletic Association, said in a statement

The Boston Marathon is usually held in April and was canceled last year because of Covid-19, though there was a virtual edition. It was the first time in the race’s 124-year history that it was canceled. 

Boston joins other major marathons that are moving their events from early in the year to October to try to avoid cancellation. London’s marathon is scheduled for Oct. 3, and Tokyo’s is scheduled for Oct. 17. 

N.J. governor says state is 'desperately short' on vaccine doses

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on MSNBC Tuesday that while the rate of Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations in the state has slowed, it was "desperately short" on supplies of vaccine doses.

"We don't have enough supply," Murphy told Willie Geist on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He added that there are roughly 270 locations around the state ready to administer vaccine doses.

He emphasized that unlike other states, New Jersey was sticking with an "appointment-based system" for vaccine distribution instead of a first come, first served model.

Murphy, a first-term Democrat, expressed confidence that the Biden administration would help speed the vaccine rollout nationwide.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly said the city's supply of vaccine doses is running very low, too.

Regeneron's antibody cocktail effective in preventing Covid-19, company says


Pharmaceuticals said on Tuesday its antibody cocktail was effective in preventing Covid-19 in people exposed to those infected with the new coronavirus, based on interim results from a late-stage study.

The two-antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV, caused a 100 percent reduction in symptomatic infection and roughly 50 percent lower overall rates of infection, based on an analysis of about 400 participants in the trial who had a household member with Covid-19.

Regeneron said it would discuss the interim results with U.S. health regulators to potentially expand the antibody cocktail’s current emergency use authorization (EUA). Full data from the trial is expected early in the second quarter.

Click here to read the full story.

What do coronavirus variants mean for your masks?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that when it comes to wearing two masks to protect against the coronavirus, it "makes common sense" that more than one layer of masking would be more effective.

There is no specific research on how well face coverings work against new variants of the virus, including the more transmissible variant from the United Kingdom that has been detected in at least 22 states in the United States.

A mask "is a physical covering to prevent droplets," Fauci said Monday on NBC's "TODAY" show. "So, if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective."

Asked at a White House briefing last week whether the new variant would make masks less effective, he said that on the contrary, the variants are "the reason why you absolutely should be wearing a mask."

Click here to read the full story.

U.K. coronavirus death toll passes 100,000, official data shows

The death toll from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom has passed 100,000 people, according to data published Tuesday by the country's Office for National Statistics, which revises upward previous public figures.

The U.K. has the highest death toll in Europe, with criticism of the government's handling of the pandemic growing louder. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is quick to point to a new, highly transmissible variant of the virus that appears to have originated in England and has now spread to other countries. 

But experts say that while Johnson may have been dealt a bad hand, he has played it poorly, particularly by allowing tens of millions of people to travel and congregate over the Christmas holiday.

10 percent of kids, teens in China reported psychological distress amid pandemic

In a March 2020 survey, 10 percent of children and adolescents in China reported psychological distress amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a JAMA Network Open study released Tuesday.

The survey found that students who never wore a face covering were at a higher risk for symptoms of psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, compared to students who wore one frequently.

The same was found in students who exercised less than 30 minutes a day compared with students who exercised for more than an hour a day.

"These findings suggest that the prevalence of self-reported psychological distress among school-aged children and adolescents during the Covid-19 pandemic was relatively high," the researchers said in a summary of the study's key findings.

The researchers added that other realities of the pandemic — including shelter-in-place orders, fears of infection, inadequate information, lack of personal space at home, challenges with online learning, family financial woes and social isolation — "could have adverse and enduring outcomes" among young people.

Mexican president's Covid diagnosis stirs criticism of government


MEXICO CITY — The Mexican president's announcement that he had Covid-19 just a few hours after taking a commercial flight unleashed renewed criticism of his handling of the pandemic, which has left the country with the fourth-highest death toll worldwide.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has a history of heart problems and high blood pressure, said Sunday evening that he was being treated for mild symptoms of Covid-19 after attending meetings and public events in preceding days.

The news capped the deadliest week of the coronavirus pandemic in the country and left questions unanswered about how many people had been close to the president during his three-day visit to parts of northern and central Mexico.

"How irresponsible and careless of him just to get onto a flight knowing that he might be infected," said Jesús Ortega, a former leader of the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and one-time ally of the president.

"The problem is he's the president. If the president violates the health guidelines, he's setting a bad example to others," said Ortega, wishing López Obrador a quick recovery.

Click here to read the full story.

E.U. threatens to restrict exports of Covid-19 vaccines amid rollout anger

LONDON — The European Union threatened to restrict the export of Covid-19 vaccines from the bloc amid growing anger at the slow rollout of immunizations across the 27-country bloc.

“E.U. member states are united: Vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold,” health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said after two tense negotiating sessions with representatives of vaccine maker AstraZeneca, in which the commissioner said "insufficient explanations" were provided.

It is unclear what exactly E.U. officials can and will do to restrict the export of the vaccine.

AstraZeneca took E.U. officials by surprise last week when it announced its initial delivery volumes of the Covid-19 vaccine would be lower than originally anticipated because of manufacturing issues in Europe. The company did not say how much lower the volumes will be.

This came just a week after Pfizer-BioNTech announced there will be a temporary reduction in its vaccine deliveries to the bloc, also without stipulating the size of the reduction, but reassuring it will resume its delivery schedule to the E.U. this week.

Click here to read the full story.

Dubai restaurants offering up to 20 percent discount to vaccinated diners

Charlene Gubash

Restaurants in Dubai are offering diners money off their bill if they can prove they have had two shots of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Five of Gates Hospitality's outlets in the Gulf city — each with outdoor seating — are offering a 10 percent discount to anyone who's had one dose and 20 percent to people who have had two. The offer, which began Monday and lasts until the end of February, has attracted a lot of attention on social media and in international media.

"The initiative is really to create awareness what the vaccine is," the group's CEO and founder, Naim Maadad, told NBC News. "It’s rewarding individuals...[and] makes sure we keep on engaging with our community in a positive way."

January's Covid-19 death count nears December's record

The U.S. counted 171,501 new Covid-19 cases and 2,178 reported deaths Monday as the case counts continued to wane from January's record highs, according to NBC News' tally.

In the past week, the country averaged 3,172 deaths per day and 171,155 cases per day. Four weeks ago those numbers were 2,615 deaths per day and 213,940 cases per day.

As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. is at 76,380 deaths reported in January, and Tuesday will likely break December's record 77,124 deaths.

Colombia's defense minister dies from Covid

The Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian officials say Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo has died from complications of Covid-19. He was 69.

President Ivan Duque says Holmes Trujillo died early Tuesday, adding: “His life was a reflection of his vocation for public service.”

Holmes Trujillo became defense minister in November 2019, after serving as foreign minister. He was also the mayor of Cali from 1988-1990.

Colombia reported more than 15,000 new cases per day in mid-January, up from about 7,000 cases in early December.

Colombia has more than 50,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus.

Moderna on track to deliver 100 million vaccine doses in U.S. by end of March

U.S. biotech company Moderna said Tuesday it was on track to deliver 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. government by the end of March and 200 million doses by end of June.

So far, it has supplied some 30 million doses to the U.S. government, it said in a statement.

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA, as well as from regulatory authorities in the European Union, United Kingdom and Canada.

On Monday, Moderna said it was tweaking its vaccine to make it more effective against emerging strains of the virus

While President Joe Biden also said Monday he expects anyone who wants a coronavirus vaccination in the U.S. to be able to get one by the spring — and upped his vaccination goal to 150 million shots in his first 100 days in office.

New Zealand's border may remain shut for 'much of this year,' prime minister says


New Zealand's borders are expected to remain closed for most of this year due to concerns over Covid-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday. The pacific nation will still pursue travel arrangements with neighboring countries such as Australia. 

Medical authorities, meanwhile, may approve a vaccine as early as next week, according to Ardern, as pressure mounts for a start to vaccinations after the country confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus in the community in months.

"Given the risks in the world around us and the uncertainty of the global rollout of the vaccine, we can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this year," Ardern said at a news conference.

For travel to restart, authorities either needed confidence that those vaccinated do not remain carriers of the virus or enough of the population needed to be vaccinated so people can safely re-enter New Zealand. Both options will take time, she said. 

A tough lockdown and geographical isolation helped the country of 5 million virtually eliminate coronavirus within its borders.

New Zealand reported 2 new cases of Covid-19 at its managed isolation facilities on Tuesday and no new community cases. The country has 65 active cases, 1,934 confirmed cases in all, and 25 deaths.

Dutch police detain 150 rioters as anti-lockdown protests continue for third night in the Netherlands


Adrianne MoralesAdrianne Morales is a Social Platforms Editor for NBC News.

Reuters and Adrianne Morales

A third night of riots continued in several cities across the Netherlands on Monday night, defying the country’s nightly coronavirus curfew. Dutch police detained more than 150 people, where roaming groups of rioters set fires, threw rocks and looted stores.

Ten police were injured in the port city of Rotterdam, where 60 rioters were detained overnight, Dutch news agency ANP said on Tuesday.

In videos shared on social media, rioters in Rotterdam can be heard shouting in the streets as local officials emerge on the scene. Police used teargas to disperse the looters last night.


The nation's lockdown was triggered by a new wave of infections linked to emerging variants of the virus. Schools and non-essential shops have been shut since mid-December, after bars and restaurants were closed two months prior.



Only 20 of 128,000 Israelis got Covid after second Pfizer vaccine shot

Reuters and Yasmine Salam

Early data from Israel suggests that very few people who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine have contracted a symptomatic Covid-19 case, according to a leading Israeli healthcare provider.

Results shared by a Maccabi Healthcare Services showed that only 0.01 percent of people who received both shots have since come down with coronavirus cases. This is 20 out of the approximately 128,600 people.

"According to Maccabi's experts this is preliminary data but the numbers are very encouraging," Maccabi said in a statement.

Israel has become the world’s leader in vaccine rollout, vaccinating nearly half of its 9 million citizens since its program began on Dec. 19, according to Our World in data.