60 percent more contagious and 67 percent more deadly than the original form of the virus, according to the most recent estimates.

The variant is no different from the original in how it spreads, but infected people seem to carry more of the virus and for longer, said Katrina Lythgoe, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford. “You’re more infectious for more days,” she said.

So contagious is B.1.1.7 that Britain succeeded in driving down infections only after nearly three months of strict stay-at-home orders, plus an aggressive vaccination program. Even so, cases fell much more slowly than they did during a similar lockdown in March and April.

three-quarters of new infections, some hospitals have had to move coronavirus patients to Belgium to free up beds. Roughly as many people are dying each day from Covid-19 in Europe as were this time a year ago.

For too long, government officials disregarded the threat. “Case plateaus can hide the emergence of new variants,” said Carl Pearson, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “And the higher those plateaus are, the worse the problem is.”

In the United States, coronavirus infections began a rapid decline in January, soon prompting many state leaders to reopen businesses and ease restrictions. But scientists repeatedly warned that the drop would not last. After the rate bottomed out at about 55,000 cases and 1,500 deaths per day in mid-March, some states — notably Michigan — began seeing an uptick.

Since then, the national numbers have steadily risen. As of Saturday, the daily count was up to nearly 69,000, and the weekly average was 19 percent higher than the figure two weeks earlier.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines seem to be slightly less effective against B.1.351, the variant identified in South Africa. That variant contains the Eek mutation, which seems to enable the virus to partly sidestep the body’s immune response. The vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax were even less potent against B.1.351.

“I think for the next year or two, E484K will be the most concerning” mutation, said Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The mutation slightly alters the so-called spike protein sitting on the surface of the coronavirus, making it just a bit harder for antibodies to latch on and destroy the invader.

The good news is that the virus seems to have just a few survival tricks in its bag, and that makes it easier for scientists to find and block those defenses. “I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that there aren’t that many choices,” said Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at Rockefeller University in New York.

The Eek mutation seems to be the virus’s primary defense against the immune system. Researchers in South Africa recently reported that a new vaccine directed against B.1.351 ought to fend off all other variants, as well.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna already are testing newly designed booster shots against B.1.351 that should work against any variants known to blunt the immune response.

Instead of a new vaccine against variants, however, it may be just as effective for Americans to receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccines in six months to a year, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That would keep antibody levels high in each recipient, overwhelming any variant — a more practical strategy than making a specialized vaccine for each new variant that emerges, he said.

“My only concern about chasing all the variants is that you’d almost be playing Whac-A-Mole, you know, because they’ll keep coming up and keep coming up,” Dr. Fauci said.

In one form or another, the new coronavirus is here to stay, many scientists believe. Multiple variants may be circulating in the country at the same time, as is the case for common cold coronaviruses and influenza. Keeping them at bay may require an annual shot, like the flu vaccine.

The best way to deter the emergence of dangerous variants is to keep cases down now and to immunize the vast majority of the world — not just the United States — as quickly as possible. If significant pockets of the globe remain unprotected, the virus will continue to evolve in dangerous new ways.

“This might be something that we have to deal with for a long time,” said Rosalind Eggo, an epidemiologist at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Still, she added, “Even if it changes again, which it is very likely to do, we are in a better, much stronger position than a year ago to deal with it.”

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Virus Variants Can Infect Mice, Scientists Report

Bats, humans, monkeys, minks, big cats and big apes — the coronavirus can make a home in many different animals. But now the list of potential hosts has expanded to include mice, according to an unnerving new study.

Infected rodents pose no immediate risk to people, even in cities like London and New York, where they are ubiquitous and unwelcome occupants of subway stations, basements and backyards.

Still, the finding is worrying. Along with previous work, it suggests that new mutations are giving the virus the ability to replicate in a wider array of animal species, experts said.

“The virus is changing, and unfortunately it’s changing pretty fast,” said Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the new study.

only animals known to be able to catch the coronavirus from humans and pass it back. In early November, Denmark culled 17 million farmed mink to prevent the virus from evolving into dangerous new variants in the animals.

More recently, researchers found that B.1.1.7 infections in domesticated cats and dogs can cause the pets to develop heart problems similar to those seen in people with Covid-19.

To establish a successful infection, the coronavirus must bind to a protein on the surface of animal cells, gain entry into the cells, and exploit their machinery to make copies of itself. The virus must also evade the immune system’s early attempts at thwarting the infection.

Given all those requirements, it is “quite extraordinary” that the coronavirus can infect so many species, said Vincent Munster, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Typically, viruses have a more curtailed host range.”

Mice are a known reservoir for hantavirus, which causes a rare and deadly disease in people. Even though the coronavirus variants don’t seem to be able to jump from mice to people, there is potential for them to spread among rodents, evolve into new variants, and then infect people again, Dr. Munster said.

black-footed ferrets. “This virus seems to be able to surprise us more than anything else, or any other previous virus,” Dr. Munster said. “We have to err on the side of caution.”

Dr. Sheahan said he was more concerned about transmission to people from farm animals and pets than from mice.

“You’re not catching wild mice in your house and snuggling — getting all up in their face and sharing the same airspace, like maybe with your cat or your dog,” he said. “I’d be more worried about wild or domestic animals with which we have a more intimate relationship.”

But he and other experts said the results emphasized the need to closely monitor the rapid changes in the virus.

“It’s like a moving target — it’s crazy,” he added. “There’s nothing we can do about it, other than try and get people vaccinated really fast.”

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Getting One Vaccine Is Good. How About Mix-and-Match?

In January, Britain made a change to its vaccine guidelines that shocked many health experts: If the second dose of one vaccine wasn’t available, patients could be given a different one.

The new rule was based on sheer guesswork; there was no scientific data at the time demonstrating that mixing two coronavirus vaccines was safe and effective. But that may change soon.

In February, researchers at the University of Oxford began a trial in which volunteers received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine followed by a dose of AstraZeneca’s formulation, or vice versa. This month, the researchers will start analyzing the blood of the subjects to see how well the mix-and-match approach works.

As growing numbers of vaccines are being authorized, researchers are testing other combinations. A few are in clinical trials, while others are being tested in animals for now.

created an Ebola vaccine whose first dose contained a virus called an adenovirus. The second shot used another virus, called vesicular stomatitis virus.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began last year, the Gamaleya researchers used a similar strategy to create vaccines against the new coronavirus. The first dose used the same adenovirus as in their Ebola vaccine, called Ad5. The second dose contained a different human adenovirus, Ad26. The researches inserted a gene into both viruses for the protein on the surface of the coronavirus, called spike.

Studies revealed that the vaccine, now known as Sputnik V, provided a strong defense against Covid-19. In clinical trials, the researchers found that it had an efficacy of 91.6 percent. Sputnik V is now in use in Russia and 56 other countries.

Recently, the Gamaleya institute joined forces with AstraZeneca, which makes its own Covid-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca’s consists of two doses of a chimpanzee adenovirus called ChAdOx1. Last week, the company reported that its vaccine had an efficacy of 76 percent.

found that the mixture worked better than two doses of the spike or of the R.B.D.

The researchers suspect that the first dose produces a broad range of antibodies that can stick to spots along the length of the spike protein, and that the second dose delivers a big supply of particularly potent antibodies to the tip of the spike. Together, the assortment of antibodies does a better job of stopping the coronavirus.

held back exports of vaccines to other countries as it grappled with a surge of Covid-19. For countries that were counting on those vaccines, a safe alternative for second doses could save lives.

After Britain was criticized in January for suggesting that vaccines could be mixed, researchers at the University of Oxford set out to put the idea to a formal test. In a trial called Com-Cov, they recruited 830 volunteers to test the two vaccines authorized by the British government: AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-based vaccine and the vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine uses a fundamentally different technology to produce spike proteins in the body. It contains tiny bubbles with genetic molecules called RNA. Once the bubbles fuse to cells, the cells use the RNA to make spike proteins.

stronger immune responses than mice that received the same vaccine for both doses.

Whether scientists carry out more experiments on other vaccines will depend on the willingness of the vaccine manufacturers. “You’re requiring quite large pharmaceutical companies to play nice together,” Dr. Wheatley said.

Dr. Bernard Moss, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suspects that a number of companies will be willing to let their vaccines be tested in combinations. “It’s always better to be a part of something that is going to be used,” he said, “than to wholly own something that isn’t.”

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AstraZeneca Releases Fuller Data Backing Its Vaccine

AstraZeneca reiterated on Wednesday that its Covid-19 vaccine was very effective at preventing the disease, based on more recent data than was included when the company announced the interim results of its U.S. clinical trial on Monday.

The company said in a news release that its vaccine was 76 percent effective at preventing Covid-19. That is slightly lower than the number that the company announced earlier this week.

The new results strengthen the scientific case for the embattled vaccine. But they may not repair the damage to AstraZeneca’s credibility after U.S. health officials and independent monitors issued an extraordinary rebuke of the company for not counting some Covid-19 cases when it announced its initial findings this week.

In a news release on Wednesday, the company said complete results from its 32,000-person study showed that its vaccine was 76 percent effective. On Monday, the company had said the vaccine appeared to be 79 percent effective, based on an interim look at 141 Covid-19 cases that had turned up among volunteers before Feb. 17. The latest finding was based on 190 trial participants who had gotten sick with Covid-19.

public statement.

said last week that a review had found the shot to be safe after a small number of people who had recently been inoculated developed blood clots and abnormal bleeding. The U.S. trial did not turn up any signs of such safety problems.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results

may have been based on outdated and incomplete information about the vaccine’s effectiveness, an extraordinary blow to the credibility of an already embattled vaccine.

In a statement released shortly after midnight, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that an independent panel of medical experts that has been helping to oversee AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial had “expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.”

The public airing of a conflict between a pharmaceutical company and a board overseeing a clinical trial is highly unusual. It is almost certain to trigger extra scrutiny of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators if AstraZeneca seeks emergency authorization of its vaccine in the United States

“This is really what you call an unforced error,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, said on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday morning. “Because the fact is: This is very likely a very good vaccine, and this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contributes to the hesitancy.”

The friction with the independent monitoring board revolved around how AstraZeneca was determining whether participants in the clinical trial had possible or actual cases of Covid-19, according to a person familiar with the situation. The independent monitoring board twice pushed AstraZeneca to take a more rigorous approach, telling the company it had sufficient information to determine how many trial participants had the disease. That had the potential to reduce the vaccine’s apparent effectiveness.

But AstraZeneca unveiled its interim results on Monday without conducting the full analysis the board requested, possibly casting its vaccine in an overly favorable light.

AstraZeneca defended the data it released on Monday, which it said showed the vaccine was 79 percent effective at preventing Covid-19. The company said on Tuesday that the interim results appeared to be “consistent” with more recent data collected during the trial. AstraZeneca said it would immediately share its latest efficacy data with the monitoring board. The company said it would reissue fuller results within 48 hours.

The results that AstraZeneca announced on Monday were a badly needed dose of good news, especially because they came at a moment when concerns about the vaccine’s safety had led more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, to temporarily suspend the shot’s use over concerns about possible rare side effects. The results not only affirmed the vaccine’s safety, but also made the vaccine look more effective than it appeared in earlier trials.

But members of the independent monitoring board were surprised by the company’s announcement. “They got concerned and wrote a rather harsh note to them and with a copy to me, saying that in fact they felt that the data that was in the press release were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit and wanted them to straighten it out,” said Dr. Fauci, who runs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That prompted the overnight statement from the infectious-disease institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Companies sponsoring drug or vaccine trials typically wait for the monitoring board to review analyses and conclude that the study has yielded an answer before they announce trial results.

Company executives do not see the results of the study until the monitoring board reports their study data back to the company. The monitoring board ultimately conveyed the results of the study to AstraZeneca in a meeting over the weekend, leading to the company’s announcement Monday morning.

The monitoring board’s slow progress fueled concerns among federal officials that AstraZeneca may have been sitting on the data or that the monitoring board had concerns about the way the data it was reviewing had been presented.

An AstraZeneca spokeswoman, whom the company declined to name, said on Friday that it was “completely incorrect” that the trial data had formatting problems or had not been submitted to the monitoring board in a clean fashion.

“As is often the case,” the spokeswoman said, monitoring boards “can request new or clarifying analyses of data from the trial. This would enable them to ensure the robustness of their determinations.”

The national institute’s statement, issued shortly after midnight, stunned experts. Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trials expert at Scripps Research in San Diego, said it was “highly irregular” to see such a public display of friction between a monitoring board and a study sponsor, which are typically in close concordance.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s so, so troubling.”

AstraZeneca’s relationship with the U.S. authorities has been fraught since last year, when senior health officials believed the company was not being forthright about the design of its clinical trials, its results and safety issues. That skepticism carried over to last week, when senior officials at a number of federal health agencies grew suspicious about why AstraZeneca had not announced data from its U.S. study..

Munich last week. The number of coronavirus cases in Germany is rising, prompting the government to extend lockdown measures.
Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, warning on Tuesday that her country is facing a significantly more deadly wave of the coronavirus, announced a five-day lockdown over Easter and the extension of existing restrictions until mid-April in an effort to break a spike in coronavirus cases.

Starting April 1, and until the following Monday, Germany will effectively shut down for an extended Easter break, with private meetings limited to no more than two groups of up to five adults and almost all stores ordered shuttered (supermarkets can open on the Saturday). Churches are asked to hold services online, and people are being asked to stay home and not travel.

“We are in a very, very serious situation,” Ms. Merkel told a news conference, after hours of deliberations with the leaders of the country’s 16 states over the Easter lockdown and extension of existing restrictions through April 18.

“After we were able to sharply bring down the number of new infections in January, we are now experiencing, through the spread of the more contagious British variant, a more dangerous variation — the numbers are going up and the intensive care beds are filling up,” she said.

Germany is the latest country in Europe to tighten restrictions as more contagious virus variants spread and the continent struggles to vaccinate its citizens. Poland, Italy and parts of France have ordered that residents stay home, and many businesses have shut before the holiday.

A resurgent virus and lagging vaccinations have forced governments to renege on promises that they would slowly reopen businesses and society as spring approached. That has spurred protests across Europe.

Europe’s vaccine campaign slowed after a small number of cases of blood clots and abnormal bleeding were reported in patients who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, dampening confidence in its safety. While the European drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, cleared the vaccine for use last week and said it was “safe and effective,” the scare further complicated vaccination efforts.

Just three weeks ago, Ms. Merkel and state officials hammered out a road map to reopening that relied on a decline in case rates. But the number of new daily cases in Germany has increased by 69 percent in the past two weeks, to levels last seen in January.

Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment sharply cuts the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk Covid-19 patients, a study found.
Credit…Regeneron, via Associated Press

A monoclonal antibody treatment developed by the drug maker Regeneron sharply cut the risk of hospitalization and death when given to high-risk Covid-19 patients in a large clinical trial, the company announced on Tuesday.

The results are the latest in a growing flurry of evidence that the infused drugs, meant to mimic the antibodies that the immune system generates naturally in fighting the coronavirus, can help infected patients avoid the worst outcomes if given early.

Regeneron’s treatment, a cocktail of two antibody drugs, was given last fall to President Donald J. Trump shortly after he got sick with Covid-19 and is now one of three such therapies available in the United States.

The new results come from a Phase 3 trial that enrolled more than 4,500 patients beginning in late September, around the time virus cases began to climb dangerously in the United States. The study found that patients who got the infused treatment within 10 days of developing symptoms or testing positive had a roughly 70 percent reduced risk of being hospitalized or dying compared with patients who were infused with a placebo.

“I think these are exciting data,” said Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved in the study.

Even as vaccinations speed up, antibody treatments are expected to be helpful for high-risk people who still get sick for many months at least, and longer still if the virus can’t be wiped out. While there are signs that emerging virus variants may in some cases make antibodies less potent, Regeneron’s cocktail has not shown such vulnerability in laboratory tests.

In the new findings, Regeneron’s treatment worked equally well when given at half the dosing at which it was authorized. Regeneron said that it planned to request that the Food and Drug Administration allow the treatment to be given at that reduced strength.

Such a change would bring several advantages: While the cocktail is safe, getting it at a lower dose reduces the odds of side effects, such as an infusion reaction.

It would also allow Regeneron to increase the supply it can provide the United States. The company said that it had expected to supply the country with about 750,000 doses at the originally authorized higher strength by the end of June. If the lower strength is authorized, the company expects to provide about 1.25 million doses by then.

The antibody treatments from Regeneron and the drug maker Eli Lilly, which makes the other two such drugs authorized in the United States, were expected to be in high demand and to serve as a bridge in fighting the pandemic before vaccinations ramped up. Instead, they ended up sitting on refrigerator shelves in many places even during recent surges.

Many patients and their doctors did not know to ask for them or where to find them. Overwhelmed hospitals lacked the bandwidth to prioritize giving out the treatments. And some doctors were unconvinced by the relatively weak evidence available last fall supporting their use.

That picture is gradually shifting, thanks to improved logistics and more awareness. And more solid evidence, like the new data from Regeneron, also appears to be helping the drugs get used more widely. “As the data get stronger and stronger, I would expect that use will increase,” Dr. Gandhi said.

People enjoying a Friday evening as businesses and restaurants begin to reopen at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco this month.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Positive trends in pandemic statistics in the United States are easy to distrust. After all, the country went through two false dawns last year, in the late spring and then again in the late summer, when declines in case reports prefaced even darker days. Each time, the apparent good news prompted relaxations and reopenings that helped bring on the next wave.

So it is no surprise that public health experts are wary about the latest flattening in the curve of the pandemic, from the steep decline in cases seen in late January and February to something like a plateau or slight decline more recently. With more contagious virus variants becoming prevalent, they fear the good news could be ending and a fourth wave might be building.

On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, again warned Americans about the spread of the coronavirus, saying that with increased travel, looser pandemic restrictions and worrisome variants bearing down on the United States, another surge could erupt if Americans did not take protection efforts seriously “for just a little bit longer.”

“We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road, where we as a country must decide which path we are going to take. We must act now,” said Dr. Walensky, who has been one of many federal officials in recent weeks to warn governors against lifting mask mandates too soon. “And I am worried that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination.”

That said, there are positive signs:

The question now is which will prevail: the positive effects of trends like these or the negative effects of looser behavior and the evolution of the virus into more dangerous forms?

It’s still “a race between vaccinations and variants,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on Twitter. Like other experts, he cautioned: “Opening up too fast helps the variants.”

Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

Samar Khan expected to recover fully from a mild case of Covid-19, but before long her symptoms multiplied, including a “really intense brain fog.”
Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

In the fall, after Samar Khan came down with a mild case of Covid-19, she expected to recover and return to her previous energetic life in Chicago. She was 25 and healthy.

But weeks later, she said, “this weird constellation of symptoms began to set in.”

She had blurred vision encircled with halos. She had ringing in her ears, and everything began to smell like cigarettes or Lysol. One leg started to tingle, and her hands would tremble while she was putting on eyeliner.

She also developed “really intense brain fog,” she said. Trying to concentrate on a call for her job in financial services, she felt as if she had come out of anesthesia.

By the end of the year, Ms. Khan was referred to a special clinic for Covid-related neurological symptoms at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which has been evaluating and counseling hundreds of people with similar problems.

Now, the clinic has published the first study focused on long-term neurological symptoms in people who were never physically sick enough from Covid-19 to need hospitalization, including Ms. Khan.

The study of 100 patients from 21 states, published on Tuesday in The Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, found that 85 percent of them experienced four or more neurological issues like brain fog, headaches, tingling, muscle pain and dizziness.

“We are seeing people who are really highly, highly functional individuals, used to multitasking all the time and being on top of their game, but, all of a sudden, it’s really a struggle for them,” said Dr. Igor J. Koralnik, the chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology at Northwestern Medicine, who oversees the clinic and is the senior author of the study.

City Hall Park and Tweed Courthouse in Downtown Manhattan.
Credit…Jose A. Alvarado Jr. for The New York Times

With virus cases seeming to stabilize in New York City and vaccinations becoming more widespread, city officials intend to send a message that New York is close to returning to normal: On May 3, the city will compelits municipal office employees to begin to report to work in person, according to planning documents shared with The New York Times. Workers will return in phases over several weeks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to bring the nation’s largest municipal work force back to the office signals a remarkable turnabout in the fortunes of a city that was the national epicenter of the pandemic, coming to symbolize the perils of living in densely packed global capitals.

The move is meant to broadcast that New York City will soon be open for business, and to encourage private companies to follow suit.

The new policy is expected to affect about 80,000 employees who have been working remotely, including caseworkers, computer specialists and clerical associates. The rest of the city’s roughly 300,000-person work force, many of them uniformed personnel including police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers, have already been reporting to work sites.

“Above all else, this is a major momentum builder,” said Reggie Thomas, a senior vice president with the Real Estate Board of New York.

Yet the move has spurred concern among some workers and union leaders who fear it is premature. New York City still has among the highest coronavirus case rates in the nation. Many workers will have to commute an hour or more on mass transit.

Facial masks will be strongly encouraged but not required: A March 18 presentation from the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services said agency leaders should “encourage face coverings to be worn at all times even if six-feet distancing can be maintained.” The provision allows workers to remove face coverings if they are more than six feet apart.

Vaccination will not be mandatory for those returning to the office because of legal concerns, though city officials are strongly encouraging their workers to get vaccinated and are trying to facilitate that process.

At Heathrow Airport, near London, last month. England’s new rules would exclude those traveling for some work, elite sporting competitions or education.
Credit…Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Residents of England who travel abroad without a valid reason will be fined 5,000 pounds, or $6,900, under coronavirus regulations that are scheduled to come into force on Monday if lawmakers approve.

Daily coronavirus deaths in Britain have dropped to their lowest level since fall, thanks in part to a vaccination program that has already reached more than half the adult population, and the country is preparing to slowly reopen its economy after months of national lockdown. A stay-at-home order is to be lifted on Monday, though many shops and other businesses will be closed until mid-April or later.

Travel abroad for leisure is banned until May 17 at the earliest, and the new regulations signal a potentially longer wait for vacationers.

If the new regulations are approved, travelers would have to provide a valid excuse for leaving the country, which would include some essential work, elite sports competitions and education. But opposition lawmakers have criticized an exemption that would allow travel “in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property,” arguing that it would privilege those wealthy enough to own a second residence. Travel without an essential reason is also banned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The legislation, which is set to be reviewed on April 12 and expire at the end of June, would also renew a ban on indoor gatherings and limit outdoor gatherings to six people. Lawmakers on Thursday will also vote on extending a coronavirus act that gave the government emergency powers during the pandemic, which has caused friction among some members of the governing Conservative Party who have called the laws extreme.

It comes as the country marks the one year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first national lockdown. Britain has reported at least 4.3 million cases and over 126,000 deaths according to a New York Times database.

The Regal Cinemas theater in Times Square. The theater chain’s parent company, Cineworld.
Credit…Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

Cineworld, the parent company of the U.S. movie theater chain Regal Cinemas, announced on Tuesday that it would reopen its cinemas in the United States in April and in Britain in May as those countries ease lockdown restrictions.

“We have long-awaited this moment,” said Mooky Greidinger, the chief executive of Cineworld, which is based in London. “With capacity restrictions expanding to 50 percent or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets.”

Regal Cinemas is the second largest theater chain in the United States, after AMC Theaters. The announcement by Cineworld comes six months after the movie theater chains were forced to shut down across the United States and Britain last October in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The decision affected a total of 45,000 employees in both countries and forced studios to postpone film releases.

Cineworld also announced a multiyear agreement with Warner Bros. starting in 2022 that will allow the theater chain to show the studios’ films for 45 days in the United States and 31 days in Britain. The deal shortens the typical window that theaters have to show movies before they are released to on-demand streaming services.

The reopening plans in the United States will coincide with the release of two movies from Warner Bros. Pictures, “Godzilla vs. Kong” on April 2 and “Mortal Kombat” on April 16.

“We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros.,” Mr. Greidinger said. “This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business.”

Last week, AMC Theaters announced the reopening of nearly all of its U.S. theaters.

The moves come at a time of concern that looser restrictions will lead to rise in coronavirus cases. On Monday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that relaxed pandemic restrictions could lead to another spike. “If we don’t take the right actions now,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, “we will have another avoidable surge.”

In September, Cineworld reported a pretax loss of $1.6 billion for the first half of 2020. In 2019, 90 percent of the company’s revenue was generated in the United States and Britain.

A rally of parents and schoolchildren to re-open the public schools in Scotch Plains-Fanwood at the Board of Education office in Scotch Plains.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Most school districts in New Jersey have partly reopened, but one in four children still live in a district where public schools are closed. No state in the Northeast had more districts relying on all-virtual teaching in early March than New Jersey, according to Return to Learn, a database created by a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and Davidson College. Nationwide, only seven states had a greater proportion of all-remote instruction.

As the distribution of vaccines has accelerated and President Biden has signaled a push for broader reopenings, frustration among parents has grown, particularly in New Jersey’s affluent suburbs, where schools with stellar reputations are a key reason families are willing to pay some of the nation’s highest taxes.

These parents have filed federal lawsuits, held protests, created online petitions and shown up at virtual board of education meetings to demand expanded in-person instruction.

The pressure to open schools more fully comes as the infection rate in New Jersey, which is small and densely populated, remains stubbornly high: With a weekly average of 45 cases for every 100,000 residents, the state leads the nation in new infections per capita, according to a New York Times database.

The drumbeat intensified after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a major policy shift on Friday, reducing its distancing recommendations to three feet from six feet for all elementary schools and for middle and high schools in areas where the virus infection rate is not high.

Anger at the pace of reopening has led some families who can afford it to enroll their children in private schools, start home-schooling them or move. If enough children leave a district in New Jersey, it could lead to cuts in state aid, scaled-back programming or potentially layoffs.

Several New Jersey cities and counties have held educator-only vaccine distribution events. But the virus’s hold on the state has left teachers and their powerful unions wary of expanded reopening.

Testing for Covid-19 at a local market in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. 
Credit…Divyakant Solanki/EPA, via Shutterstock

Mumbai, India’s financial hub, has begun random testing for the coronavirus in malls, railway stations and other crowded places as officials attempt to tamp down on a worrying surge in cases.

Rapid antigen tests will be taken without individuals’ consent, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said in a statement on Monday. Anyone who resists will be in violation of India’s colonial-era epidemic act, which gives the government the power to fine or imprison people who violate rules to contain an outbreak.

“We are trying to implement the existing protocol to the strictest possible level: use of face mask, regulating the number of people in one event, use of hand sanitizer, and now tests,” Suresh Kakani, a senior municipal official in Mumbai, told The New York Times.

Active Covid-19 cases in Mumbai have risen by more than 140 percent since March 1. With variants circulating and commercial activity almost back to prepandemic levels, the number of infections has also shot up in the surrounding state of Maharashtra. An entire district was forced back into lockdown last week.

Mr. Kakani said officials are determined to avert another lockdown in Mumbai, the city of 20 million that is home to Bollywood, India’s film industry, as well as the country’s largest stock exchange.

Another lockdown would be economically disastrous for India, which is just starting to recover from a lockdown last year that triggered a humanitarian crisis, as millions of migrant workers fled cities for their home villages, and a recession.

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U.S. health officials question results from AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial, less than a day after they’re released.

Federal health officials said early Tuesday that results from a U.S. trial of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine may have relied on “outdated information” that “may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” casting doubt on an announcement on Monday that had been seen as good news for the British-Swedish company as well as the global vaccination drive.

In a highly unusual statement released after midnight, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the data and safety monitoring board, an independent panel of medical experts under the National Institutes of Health that has been helping to oversee AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial, had notified government agencies and AstraZeneca late Monday that it was “concerned” by information the company had released that morning.

The institute urged AstraZeneca to work with the monitoring board “to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

AstraZeneca did not immediately return a request for comment early Tuesday.

In a news release on Monday announcing the results of the U.S. trial, the company said that the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford was 79 percent effective against Covid-19, a higher figure than observed in previous trials, and completely prevented the worst outcomes from the disease. The long-anticipated results were seen as encouraging global confidence in the vaccine, which was shaken this month when more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, temporarily suspended the shot’s use over concerns about possible rare side effects. After conducting a review, Europe’s top drug regulator said last week that the shot was “safe and effective.”

more than 17 million in Britain and the European Union, almost all without serious side effects. In an effort to increase public confidence, many European political leaders have gotten the injections in recent days. The AstraZeneca vaccine has also been administered in the past week to leaders in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

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U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Results

Federal health officials said early Tuesday that results from a U.S. trial of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine may have relied on “outdated information” that “may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” casting doubt on an announcement on Monday that had been seen as good news for the British-Swedish company as well as the global vaccination drive.

In a highly unusual statement released after midnight, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the data and safety monitoring board, an independent panel of medical experts under the National Institutes of Health that has been helping to oversee AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial, had notified government agencies and AstraZeneca late Monday that it was “concerned” by information the company had released that morning.

The institute urged AstraZeneca to work with the monitoring board “to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

AstraZeneca did not immediately return a request for comment early Tuesday.

In a news release on Monday announcing the results of the U.S. trial, the company said that the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford was 79 percent effective against Covid-19, higher than observed in previous trials, and completely prevented the worst outcomes from the disease. The long-anticipated results were seen as encouraging global confidence in the vaccine, which was shaken this month when more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, temporarily suspended the shot’s use over concerns about possible rare side effects.

the design of its clinical trials, its results and safety issues. That skepticism carried over to last week, when senior officials at a number of federal health agencies grew suspicious about why AstraZeneca had not announced data from its U.S. study.

That U.S. trial, which involved more than 32,000 participants, was the largest test of its kind for the shot. The results AstraZeneca released on Monday were from an interim look at the data after 141 Covid-19 cases had turned up among volunteers.

The company did not disclose how up-to-date the data are. If the analysis was conducted on data from a month or two ago, it is possible that a more current look would present a different picture of the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety. The company has said it will provide the Food and Drug Administration with a more comprehensive, recent set of data than what it disclosed on Monday. Although no clinical trial is large enough to rule out extremely rare side effects, AstraZeneca reported that its study turned up no serious safety issues.

The fresh data may have arrived too late to make much difference in the United States, where the vaccine is not yet authorized and is unlikely to become available before May. By then, federal officials predict, there will be enough vaccine doses for all of the nation’s adults from the three vaccines that have already been authorized: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Even so, the better-than-expected results were seen as a heartening turn for AstraZeneca’s shot, whose low cost and simple storage requirements have made it a vital piece of the drive to vaccinate the world.

said last week that the shot was “safe and effective,” having conducted a review after a small number of people who had recently been inoculated developed blood clots and abnormal bleeding. The U.S. trial did not turn up any sign of such problems, although some safety issues can only be detected in the real world, once a drug or vaccine has been widely used.

Many millions of people have received the AstraZeneca shot worldwide, including more than 17 million in Britain and the European Union, almost all without serious side effects. In an effort to increase public confidence, many European political leaders have gotten the injections in recent days. The AstraZeneca vaccine has also been administered in the past week to leaders in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

AstraZeneca said on Monday that it would continue to analyze the new data and prepare to apply in the coming weeks for emergency authorization in the United States. The vaccine has already been approved in more than 70 countries, but clearance from American regulators would bolster its global reputation.

The statement from the infectious disease institute comes after a series of miscues and communication blunders by AstraZeneca dating to last year that have eroded American officials’ trust in the company.

Last summer, at least some top F.D.A. officials learned only from news reports that AstraZeneca had paused its Phase ⅔ vaccine trial in Britain after a participant developed neurological symptoms. Then in September, after another participant in the British study fell ill with similar symptoms, AstraZeneca halted its trials globally but failed to promptly notify the U.S. authorities.

The U.S. study was ultimately paused for seven weeks last fall, in part because AstraZeneca was slow to provide the F.D.A. with evidence that the vaccine had not caused the neurological symptoms. Investigators ultimately concluded that the illnesses could not be linked to the vaccine. Still, the delay was a key reason that AstraZeneca fell so far behind the three other manufacturers whose vaccines have been granted emergency authorization in the United States.

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