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What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, January 22

Biden and his advisers have inherited a nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan from the Trump administration, CNN reported yesterday, with sources saying that they’ll have to essentially “build everything from scratch.” The problems he faces are vast and his solution is rooted in a bet that throwing federal government expertise, money and scale at a crisis can turn the situation around, Stephen Collinson writes. 

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: How long will it take to vaccinate all adults in the US?

A: In the past seven days, about 914,000 vaccine doses have been administered daily. If vaccination continues at this same rate, every adult in the US could be fully vaccinated by summer 2022, according to a CNN analysis.

If vaccination picks up, to 1 million shots per day, in line with Biden’s promise, that timeline could bump up to spring 2022. To fully vaccinate all adults in the US by the end of this year, the pace would have to increase to about 1.3 million doses administered per day.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

Fauci enjoys the “liberating feeling” of a new US administration

The US’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, returned to the White House briefing room on Thursday, expressing relief about being able to share science and truth without fear of presidential reprisals. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is — let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,” Fauci, who often clashed with former President Donald Trump’s assessments of the pandemic, said. 

“I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president. So it was really something that you didn’t feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it,” he said. 

Fauci also said the US can look forward to getting back to some semblance of normality by fall if enough of the population gets vaccinated by the summer. “If we get 70% to 85% of the country vaccinated, let’s say by the end of the summer, middle of the summer, I believe by the time we get to the fall we will be approaching a degree of normality,” Fauci added. 

EU and UK leaders consider tougher border restrictions 

Both the European Union and Britain are considering tougher travel restrictions within their borders in a bid to stem rising infections. The UK government is mulling full border closures in order to contain the new Covid-19 variants, Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News today. Meanwhile the European Commission proposed tougher restrictions on travel both within and to the EU to limit non-essential travel, as the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that the variants could cause more hospitalizations and deaths across the continent. 

Blaze at facility of world’s biggest vaccine maker

A fire broke out at a facility of the world’s biggest vaccine maker — the Serum Institute of India (SII) in the city of Pune — on Thursday, killing five people. But the company said the blaze would not affect vaccine production. 
This comes as it emerged that South Africa will pay $5.25 per dose for 1.5 million shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from SII — more than some wealthier countries have been paying, according to Reuters. SII’s price was based on South Africa’s status as an upper-middle-income country under a World Bank classification, the country’s health department Deputy Director-General Anban Pillay said. 
South Africa is among the worst-hit African countries, and it was announced Thursday that government minister Jackson Mthembu had died from Covid-19. 
The blaze at the vaccine facility was brought under control but its cause is still under investigation, according to Indian officials

ON OUR RADAR

  • Some Peruvian medics are going on hunger strike to demand more funding as cases of Covid-19 spiral in the country.
  • “No Time to Die,” the latest film in the James Bond series and one of the most anticipated movies of 2021, has been delayed again.
  • Glastonbury, Britain’s famous music festival, will be canceled for a second consecutive year amid the pandemic — an ominous sign for promoters and artists. 
  • With summer season in full swing, South Africans have been cautiously letting the sunshine in as the country battles its second wave of Covid-19.
  • Rising tennis star Paula Badosa announced yesterday that she has tested positive for Covid-19 — the first known Australian Open player to contract the virus.

TOP TIP

The island nation of Sri Lanka is now open to tourists from all countries. As part of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, it has created a “bio bubble,” which will give visitors some freedom to travel within the country while still observing safety protocols. 

For instance, some attractions require visitors to be part of an organized tour group or with an approved Sri Lankan guide. They must travel in a private vehicle and not make any unauthorized side stops. Some sites will only allow tourists during designated time slots or on certain days of the week. Here’s more. 

TODAY’S PODCAST

“If people feel like they get angry more easily or irritated or have memory loss, even short-term memory — it’s normal. It could be a sign of loneliness.” — Stephanie Cacioppo, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago

In today’s episode, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks into how social isolation in the pandemic is causing surprising effects on the brain. Listen now.

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