Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Europe is struggling with a third wave.

Jonathan WolfeAmelia Nierenberg


Credit…The New York Times

A third wave of infections is hammering Europe, and the situation is looking startlingly similar to the early days of the pandemic.

Cases are surging. Street protests are becoming violent. Hospitalizations are soaring in places like France and Hungary. And in Italy, new restrictions were put in place today, blanketing the country in an eerie silence one year after it became the first European country to impose a national lockdown.

For months Italy relied on a color-coded system of restrictions that tried to target outbreaks while avoiding a national lockdown, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. A surge of new, more contagious variants, paired with a lackluster vaccine rollout, sent cases and hospitalizations skyrocketing.

“History repeats itself,” Massimo Galli, one of Italy’s top virologists, told the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. “Unfortunately we all got the illusion that the arrival of the vaccines would reduce the necessity of more drastic closures,” he said. “But the vaccines did not arrive in sufficient quantities.”

The vaccine rollout was thrown into further chaos today after Germany, France and Italy pulled AstraZeneca’s vaccine from use after some recipients experienced blood clotting. In some of those cases, people died, but it is unclear whether the vaccine — one of the most commonly available on the continent — caused the clots. The European Medicine Agency, or E.M.A. said it was investigating.

Leading public health agencies, including the World Health Organization, have said that millions of people have received the vaccine without experiencing blood clotting issues, and they caution that experts have not found a causative link between the vaccine and the conditions. AstraZeneca has defended its vaccine as safe.

While European countries said the suspension was a temporary precaution as they wait for more information from the E.M.A., officials and immunologists are worried that the pause would cost vital time in the race against fast-spreading variants, and that it would embolden vaccine skeptics.

China was on the defensive in Brazil, where leaders were threatening to blackball the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. Then pandemic politics upended everything.

With Brazil reeling from a surge in cases caused by new, more contagious variants, the country’s communications minister went to China in February to make a very unusual request from Huawei.

“I took advantage of the trip to ask for vaccines, which is what everyone is clamoring for,” said the minister, Fábio Faria.

Beijing came through with millions of doses of vaccines made by Sinovac, a Chinese company. Huawei offered software to help doctors, along with 20 oxygen-making machines to the city of Manaus, where Covid patients suffocated to death in February as hospitals ran out of oxygen.

The thaw in relations represents one of the biggest victory’s in Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy” outreach — especially as rich countries, including the United States, hoard millions of doses.

Two weeks after Mr. Faria’s visit, the Brazilian government announced that Huawei would be allowed to bid for control of Brazil’s ambitious 5G wireless network, a project worth billions of dollars. “May our joint efforts save lives!” the Chinese Embassy in Brazil said in a message on Twitter announcing the gift.

Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.

  • No one knows how many medical workers died after contracting the coronavirus. One American doctor, who says she is now burned out, tried to keep her own unofficial tally.

  • More than four million people — many of whom have children or health concerns — have quit the U.S. work force in the past year.

  • A fraternity party at Duke University appears to have stoked an outbreak that has led to around 16,000 undergraduates and graduate students living under a temporary enforced quarantine, The Washington Post reports.

  • In Florida, Miami Beach police arrested about 100 spring breakers this weekend, CBS Miami reports.

  • U.S. prison guards are declining to be vaccinated at high rates, despite a number of outbreaks throughout the prison system, The Associated Press reports.

  • After he received his second dose of a coronavirus vaccine, Yo-Yo Ma played an impromptu concert during his 15-minute observation period.

A year into the pandemic, The Times collected stories from readers about ways the pandemic upended their lives in the initial days. Here are a few moments when readers said they knew that things had changed, in their own words.

When I asked a stranger on the street where she found the toilet paper she was carrying. — Heidi Fliegauf, 53, Boston

When my toddler grandson tried to feed me a blueberry through the cellphone screen. — Alice Gilgoff, 74, Rosendale, N.Y.

Our favorite ice rink in Madrid being used as a morgue. — Joni Costello, 42, Madrid

When I realized I became an unemployment statistic. — Amy Goggin, 41, Troy, N.Y.

When we realized that we should go to the courthouse to get married on our lunch break because our wedding would be canceled and my then fiancée would lose her health insurance if she got furloughed. — Alex Herrin, 28, Nashville

I wrote my granddaughter a six-page letter reviewing our time together and what it meant to me in case I never saw her again. — Virginia Graves, 71, Rockport, Mass.

Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.

Email your thoughts to

Read More

Jonathan Wolfe and Amelia Nierenberg