NIH: Halted vaccine study shows ‘no compromises’ on safety » Top government doctors told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday that when a coronavirus vaccine is delivered to the public, it will be safe and effective.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams said he has not seen any political influence in the testing process.
ADAMS: We have a process in place that I trust as a doctor, as a dad.
Their testimony came as drugmaker AstraZeneca suspended its final phase of testing of a COVID-19 vaccine after a volunteer recipient became ill.
The Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins said the very fact that one illness in the 30,000-person study halted testing “ought to be reassuring.”
COLLINS: When we say we are going to focus first on safety and make no compromises, here is Exhibit A of how that is happening in practice.
AstraZeneca gave no details on the illness, but Collins said it involved a “spinal problem.” Tests are on hold while scientists determine whether the test subject’s illness was a side effect of the shot or just a coincidence.
There are six vaccine candidates now conducting large scale trails. Three of them are in the third and final phase of testing, including AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
The doctors said they remain cautiously optimistic that a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year.
U.S. to draw down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by November » The U.S. military will pull thousands of troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by November.
Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, made that announcement Wednesday during a visit to Iraq.
The Pentagon will remove just over 2,000 of the roughly 5,200 troops in the country. Officials say they’re confident that U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces can handle the remnants of ISIS.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the move reflects the fulfillment of the president’s promise.
MCENANY: And look, this is a president, when he says he’s going to end endless wars, it’s not a slogan like it’s been for Democrats and past presidents. It is an actual truth.
General McKenzie also said troop levels in Afghanistan would drop to 4,500 by November.
Trump nominated for Nobel Prize » A Norwegian lawmaker said Wednesday that he has nominated President Trump for a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian parliament, said Trump should be considered for several reasons.
GJEDDE: His reduction of standing arms. He has reduced the number of troops in the Middle East. And the third criteria is promotional peace congresses. And his latest effort resulted in the peace between the U.A.E and Israel.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed last month to a historic deal, brokered by the Trump administration, normalizing relations. Leaders from both countries are scheduled to sign it at the White House on Tuesday.
President Trump said he is “honored” by the nomination.
Tybring-Gjedde was one of two Norwegian lawmakers who nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for efforts to bring reconciliation between North and South Korea.
Trump releases list of 20 new possible Supreme Court picks » Also on Wednesday, President Trump announced he’s adding 20 names to the list of possible Supreme Court candidates. He has vowed to choose from that list if he has future vacancies to fill.
The new additions include judges, current and former government attorneys, and three sitting Republican senators.
TRUMP: Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Also on the list, the current ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, and Noel Francisco, who argued 17 cases as the Trump administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.
Wildfires burn across Western states » AUDIO: [Sound of wind]
Winds gusting to 50 mph fanned dozens of catastrophic wildfires Wednesday across parts of Washington state and Oregon.
Officials in some places were giving residents just minutes to evacuate their homes. And Oregon Governor Kate Brown said the flames consumed hundreds of houses.
And the weather still isn’t cooperating in California, where an unprecedented number of fires are raging across the state.
Cal Fire spokesman Edwin Zuniga told reporters…
ZUNIGA: Erratic winds basically push that fire in all directions. That’s something that we’ve been having to deal with over the past couple of days. Obviously, the record-setting heat we had over the weekend and continue to have.
A massive cloud of smoke blanketed much of California on Wednesday, dimming the sun to an eerie orange glow over San Francisco.
NFL season starts tonight » The 2020 NFL season kicks off just hours from now with two of the league’s brightest young quarterbacks on display.
Super Bowl LIV (54) MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs as they host Deshaun Watson’s Houston Texans.
As with other leagues, the NFL has installed a range of new safety measures amid the pandemic, and there will be no fans in attendance.
Action begins at 8:20 Eastern Time on NBC.