By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 103 million people worldwide and killed over 2.2 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:
Feb 01, 11:38 am
Europol warns of fake COVID-19 test certificates
The European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, is warning member nations to be on the lookout for fake COVID-19 test certificates.
An increasing number of countries in the EU and beyond are requiring travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test to be allowed entry when coming from a high-risk area. In an early warning notification issued Monday, Europol said several cases have emerged of fraudulent test certificates being sold to travelers, including the arrest of a forgery ring selling negative test results to passengers at France’s Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The amount charged for the fake documents ranged between 150 to 300 euros ($181-362).
Fraudsters were also caught in the United Kingdom selling bogus test documents for 100 pounds ($137), faking the name of a genuine laboratory on the false certificates, according to Europol.
“The detection of fake COVID-19 negative test certificates confirms that criminals — be it organised crime groups or individual opportunistic scammers — seize profitable opportunities once they arise,” the agency said in the notification. “As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the COVID-19 situation, it is highly likely that production and sales of fake test certificates will prevail. Given the widespread technological means available, in the form of high-quality printers and different software, fraudsters are able to produce high-quality counterfeit, forged or fake documents.”
Feb 01, 9:12 am
Moderna president hopeful that US can achieve herd immunity by mid-year
Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of American biotechnolgy company Moderna, said he’s hopeful that vaccines can help the U.S. population achieve herd immunity against the novel coronavirus by mid-year.
“It really depends what you think herd immunity needs to be. But if you assume 50 to 70% of the population, then we’re working hard ourselves and the other manufacturers to make sure that’s a possibility really in the late spring, early summer,” Hoge told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Monday on Good Morning America.
“It’s ultimately going to depend upon the delivery of those vaccines, and so that’s something that the states and the health care providers in this country are ultimately leading the way on as well as Americans deciding they want to receive that vaccine,” he added. But we’re optimistic that by the middle of the year, we’ll be able to achieve those sorts of numbers.”
Moderna is ramping up production of its COVID-19 vaccine and is working to clear any “bottlenecks” in the supply chain, according to Hoge.
“At this point, a lot of the logistical bottlenecks that we’re running into are problems we can solve on our own,” he noted. “We’re in good shape.”
Hoge, who was a resident physician in New York City, said data currently shows that existing vaccines are still effective against all emerging strains of the virus. But the variant first identified in South Africa “is of some concern because it looks like it could hide from the vaccine a little better than others,” he said.
“So our approach in Moderna is going to be to develop a booster vaccine so that if the South African variant or any other variant becomes a concern, we’ll be able to offer a way to identify that, prevent it from hiding from the vaccine,” he said.
Feb 01, 7:29 am
Variants detected at refugee accommodation center in Germany, officials say
An accommodation facility for refugees in the German city of Cologne has been hit by new, more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus, city officials said.
At least 41 residents of the Herkulesstrasse facility have tested positive for COVID-19. Variants first identified in South Africa or Brazil have been detected in 31 of them so far, according to a statement from the city government on Sunday.
At least 16 staff members at the facility have also tested positive for COVID-19, with the South Africa variant detected in 11 of them so far. Variant analysis is still pending on the other five, according to the statement.
All residents of the facility have been under quarantine since Friday, while the site has been under surveillance since Sunday. Entry into the refugee accommodation center, which can house up to 600 people, is currently banned, according to the statement.
The first known COVID-19 cases were confirmed among two employees at the facility about 10 days ago, while the first case of a variant was confirmed last week, according to the statement.
Dr. Harald Rau, head of Cologne’s public health department, said the detection of variants at the refugee accommodation center “is a clear alarm signal for all of us.”
“I ask all people in Cologne to avoid contact even more consistently than before and to follow the distance and hygiene rules of infection protection,” Rau said in a statement Sunday.
Feb 01, 6:54 am
Zanzibar’s first vice president, wife, close aides test positive
Zanzibar’s First Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad, his wife and a number of his close aides have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from his party.
Hamad, 77, was admitted to a hospital in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago on Friday evening for precautionary measures, after doctors advised him to remain under close medical supervision while he receives treatment, according to the statement.
Hamad’s party noted in the statement that the medical conditions of him and his wife are improving.
Feb 01, 6:42 am
Capt. Sir Tom Moore hospitalized with COVID-19
Capt. Sir Thomas Moore, the 100-year-old British World War II veteran who garnered global attention for his fundraising efforts amid the pandemic, has been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to his daughter.
“Over the last few weeks he was being treated for pneumonia and last week tested positive for COVID-19,” his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said in a statement posted on Twitter Sunday. “He was at home with us until today when he needed additional help with his breathing. He is being treated in a ward, although he is not in ICU.”
Ingram-Moore thanked health workers for the “remarkable” care her father has received in recent weeks.
“We know that the wonderful staff at Bedford Hospital will do all they can to make him comfortable and hopefully return home as soon as possible,” she added.
Last spring, Moore raised over 37 million pounds ($50.7 million) for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service by walking laps in his garden in England amid a nationwide lockdown. Queen Elizabeth II honored Moore’s charity and service to the country with a promotion to honorary colonel, a social flyover and knighthood.
Feb 01, 6:11 am
US reports over 111,000 new cases
There were 111,896 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Sunday’s case count is the lowest the country has recorded since Dec. 25 and is also far less than the all-time high of 300,282 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.
An additional 1,794 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Sunday, down from a peak of 4,466 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.
COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.
A total of 26,187,424 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 441,331 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.
The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.
So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. More than 24 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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