“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
💉 U.S. Vaccine Update
The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee – a group of independent medical experts – will meet today from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET to discuss the risks and benefits of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine before voting on whether the FDA should authorize the shot. (Watch it live)
FDA officials reportedly told the WSJ they expect to reach a final approval decision within three to four days of receiving the advisory committee’s recommendation, which the agency is not required to follow (but often does).
💬 Relevant Quote: “Within 24 hours of FDA greenlighting with authorization, we’ll ship [6.4M doses] to all of the states and territories that we work with,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in an interview with Fox News Sunday. “And within hours they can be vaccinating.”
For most states, the number of vaccines initially received will be enough to inoculate less than 1% of their populations. A majority of them are prioritizing frontline healthcare workers with the first batch, with priority shifting to residents of long-term care facilities as more doses are received.
However… Recent polls suggest more than ⅓ of Americans would not receive an FDA-approved vaccine today at no cost (Gallup), and more than ¼ of Americans do not plan to receive a vaccine at all (27% unsure – AP-NORC).
What’s Next? The FDA is reviewing vaccines on a first come, first serve basis before granting emergency use authorization (apply first, your case will be reviewed first).
The agency’s vaccine advisory committeemeets again next Thursday to review data from a large-scale trial of Moderna’s vaccine and vote on a recommendation. Other vaccine candidates have yet to apply for authorization.
COVID-19 vaccine: If you’re medically eligible, it’s immoral to refuse
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🌏 International Vaccine News
🇬🇧 The UK’s National Health Service yesterday warned that people with a serious history of allergic reactions shouldn’t receive Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine; also opened an investigation into two such reactions on the country’s first day of vaccination (both have recovered).
🇨🇦 Canada’s health regulatorapproved Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine on Wednesday; becomes third country to do so (after UK and Bahrain).
🇦🇪 Health officials in the UAE approved China’s state-developed vaccine after a late-stage trial found the shot 86% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.
🇮🇱 Israelwill begin public vaccinations on December 27 with Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine; PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he will be the first to receive it as a public example.
🗳️ Election and Transition
The attorneys general of 17 states (all Republican) filed a joint brief to the Supreme Court yesterday supporting a lawsuit filed by Texas AG Ken Paxton seeking to overturn the election results of four states – GA, MI, PA, and WI. The suit alleges the four states used the pandemic as an excuse to unlawfully change voting laws. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
President-elect Biden officially named retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary on Tuesday. If confirmed by the Senate, which requires a special waiver due to his recent military service, Austin would become the first Black Secretary of Defense. The full list of official nominees. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
Translation: If you live above the yellow line, the Northern Lights may be visible through tomorrow.
🎵 Dashing Through the IPOs ❄️
DoorDash began trading on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday after pricing its shares at $102 for its Tuesday-night IPO (ticker: DASH). The stock began trading at $182 per share and closed at $189.51, valuing the company at $60.2B. Per CNBC, Airbnb sold shares in its IPO last night at $68 a piece ahead of today’s debut on the Nasdaq (ticker: ABNB).
More: Roblox, Wish, and Affirm are among a handful of other companiesthat have filed for IPO in recent weeks and plan to make their market debuts before the end of 2020.
⚖️ Facebook’s (Anti)Trust Issues
The FTC and attorneys general of 46 states (plus D.C. & Guam) filed a pair of antitrust lawsuits against Facebook yesterday. Both suits accuse Facebook of unlawfully eliminating competition with its acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 ($1B) and WhatsApp in 2014 ($19B), which were approved by the FTC at the time.
More: The FTC’s suit separately alleges a broader “years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.”
Even More: Wednesday’s lawsuits come less than two months after the DOJ and 11 states sued Google for allegedly violating antitrust laws.
SpaceX launched an uncrewed high-altitude test flight of its latest Starship rocket prototype yesterday. The test went smoothly up until the attempted landing where the rocket exploded on impact (no humans were injured; video of the incident).
🌙 In other space news: NASA selected 18 astronauts yesterday to join the Artemis Program – its initiative to land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024, and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.
🐕 The Cone of Fame
Jenn Frate’s golden retriever Finn is a laid-back pup – he loves nothing more than lazing around their house in Sacramento, CA, and cuddling with his owner every chance he gets.
However, Finn was none too pleased when Jenn took him to get neutered last month, requiring the pup to wear a cone around his head for the next two weeks.To cheer up the recuperating canine, Jenn transformed Finn’s cone into a different silly costume each day of his recovery, which she documented in adorable photoshoots.
🎤 Sing a Different Tune
Molly Oldham of Charlotte, NC, was studying musical theater at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro last year when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Immediately, the 19-year-old’s life and dreams of making it to Broadway were put on hold.
This October, the aspiring vocalist – who would sing in her hospital room while undergoing chemotherapy at Duke Health – went viral after recording an impromptu vocal duet with nurse David Duckett. Molly is now cancer-free and preparing to return to school.
😴 You Snooze, You Win
Patrick Skluzacek returned from his U.S. Army tour in Iraq in 2007 a changed man. Suffering from PTSD, he was consumed by nightmares – coping with alcohol and pills that quickly unraveled his life.
In 2015, Tyler Skluzacek, the veteran’s son and a senior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, led the development of a smartwatch application that prevents nightmares in people with PTSD. The app was approved by the FDA last month.
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🕰️ What Time Is It Right Now? The U.S. first implemented Daylight Saving Time in 1918, yet each year our brains seem to forget how early it gets dark. What science says.
🧠 Brain Gain… a team of international scientists used light to beam shapes and motions directly into the brains of monkeys.
🤖 Do the Robot… researchers at Northwestern University created a new dime-sized, water-based robot powered by light that can perform a wide range of tasks, including walking, moving cargo, and even dancing.
🚀 Space Junk Food
NASA’s space food program uses ingredients from which fast food chain?
A) McDonald’s B) Wendy’s C) Arby’s D) Taco Bell
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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During the early space shuttle days, NASA used to send fresh bread packed in a special cooler up to space for sandwiches. Eventually, the astronauts expressed a preference for tortillas over bread, and Taco Bell came to the rescue with a commercial tortilla pack designed to last up to nine months.