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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.

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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

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

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.

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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.”

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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.