5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • U.K. approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for mass rollout

  • CDC panel: COVID-19 vaccine should 1st go to care facilities, health workers

  • Barr says DOJ has found no evidence of election-altering fraud

  • Bipartisan Senate group pushes $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill

  • Salesforce to acquire Slack in a $27.7 billion deal

Britain's medicine and health care regulator, the MHRA, gave emergency approval Wednesday for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, making the U.K. the first country to green-light the promising vaccine for mass rollout. Britain has already ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, or enough to inoculate 20 million people, and the first doses should arrive in the coming days. "Help is on its way," Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: "The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week." Pfizer and Moderna have reported a 95 percent effectiveness rate for their vaccines from large human clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant such authorization for both vaccines in the next two or three weeks.

Source: BBC News, Axios

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, recommended that health care personnel and long-term care facility residents should receive vaccinations first, if and when Food and Drug Administration approval is granted. The panel reached the conclusion after a 13-1 vote Tuesday. The lone holdout, Dr. Helen Kiepp Talbot, clarified she has no reservations about health care workers receiving the vaccines, but is concerned there is not enough data on the safety of the vaccine candidates for older adults, who are more likely to live in long-term care facilities. The panel will make recommendations at later meetings for priority groups in the next phases, including essential workers and older adults.

Source: CNN, Politico

Attorney General William Barr contradicted President Trump's allegations of widespread voter fraud in an interview with The Associated Press published Tuesday. Barr said the Justice Department, to date, has "not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the" presidential election last month, which resulted in President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Trump and his legal team have continued to pursue unfounded claims that the Democratic Party illegally tampered with the voting process to seal Biden's win. Barr previously issued a directive to U.S. attorney generals allowing them to investigate any "substantial" allegations of voter fraud, but has since distanced himself from the legal effort. As a close Trump ally, AP notes his refuting of Trump's claims is notable.

Source: The Associated Press

A bipartisan group of centrist lawmakers announced Tuesday they are pushing a $908 billion stimulus plan that would provide more pandemic relief to Americans. The price tag is similar to the shot-down $1 trillion package Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put forth in July, and yet McConnell clearly didn't agree with it, proposing his own slimmer proposal just hours later. The bipartisan senators' proposal doesn't include another round of stimulus checks, but it does offer $300 weekly unemployment benefits and earmarks $160 in aid for state, local, and tribal governments — a sticking point amid months of talks over the package. McConnell's proposal meanwhile includes several provisions requested by GOP senators, including school choice tax credits and aid for farmers.

Source: CBS News

Salesforce on Tuesday announced it will acquire Slack in a $27.7 billion deal. News of the acquisition, Salesforce's largest since its founding, came after The Wall Street Journal reported on the advanced talks. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff touted the purchase as "a match made in heaven," while Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield called this the "most strategic combination in the history of software." Slack has noted there has been a "significant increase in demand and usage" this year due to increased working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but analysts say it "faces heavy competition from Microsoft's Teams." The acquisition will still need to receive approval from regulators.

Source: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal