Thursday morning news – November 19, 2020

Pfizer says vaccine 95% effective, will seek FDA authorization soon » Drugmaker Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95 percent effective. And the company is preparing to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization within days. 

Pfizer initially estimated the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. The latest results suggest its success rate matches the Moderna vaccine. 

Both are expected to begin distribution to the public next month. 

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins called it an unprecedented feat. 

COLLINS: The average time it’s taken in the past to develop a vaccine has been about eight years. This has been done in 10 months. And it was also been done in a size of a trial that hasn’t been attempted either. Both Pfizer and Moderana had more than 30,000 volunteers. 

Officials expect enough supplies to vaccinate at least 20 million Americans next month. Healthcare workers will likely be at the front of the line to receive those doses, followed by those at highest risk. 

The companies have not yet released detailed data on their studies. Some important questions remain—such as how long protection lasts and whether people might need boosters.

Boeing Max jets cleared for takeoff » After being grounded for nearly two years, Boeing’s 737 Max jetliners are clear for takeoff. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The Federal Aviation Administration has certified the 737 Max as airworthy. FAA chief Stephen Dickson signed an order Wednesday un-grounding the fleet

The agency said it has completed a “comprehensive and methodical” 20-month review process. 

Regulators around the world grounded the Max in March 2019, after a pair of deadly crashes that claimed more than 300 lives. 

Boeing overhauled the plane’s flight control system, focusing on anti-stall software that appeared to malfunction in both crashes. 

The FAA says it gave Boeing the green light in cooperation with air safety regulators worldwide.

The company will now begin updating critical software throughout the fleet. And once pilots receive updated training, U.S. airlines will start flying the jets. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

White House defends firing of top election official » The White House is defending President Trump’s decision to fire the nation’s top election security official this week. 

Christopber Krebs was the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He recently put out a joint statement with other election officials insisting the November 3rd election was highly secure. 

White House Press Secretary Kaleigh McEnany said Krebs seemed to be going out of his way to contradict the president’s claims of widespread election fraud. 

MCENANY: To come out and say it’s the most secure election in American history, that’s just not an accurate statement, and it seems like a partisan attempt to just hit back at the president. 

Krebs stood by his assertion after his ouster. In a brief statement on Twitter, he said “Honored to serve. We did it right.”

Hours before being dismissed, he tweeted out a report citing 59 election security experts saying there is no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election outcome.

Second GA county finds uncounted votes » Meantime in Georgia, another county has discovered uncounted ballots. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The deadline to complete a hand recount of nearly 5 million votes in the presidential election expired at midnight. But before it did, Fayette County, just south of Atlanta, discovered nearly 2,800 previously uncounted votes. 

It was similar to another incident this week in north Georgia. On Monday, Floyd County officials found about 2,600 votes on a ballot scanner memory card that were not uploaded. 

Local and state officials say both instances were simple human error, and not a technical problem or election fraud. 

The newly discovered Fayette County ballots gave president Trump a gain of about 450 votes. But that’s barely a dent in Joe Biden’s 13-thousand vote lead. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Georgia sec. of state: Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots cost him the election » On Wednesday, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he believes President Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting cost him the election—at least in Georgia. He said about 24,000 Republicans who cast absentee ballots in the primaries avoided mail-in ballots during the general election. 

But they never went to the polls. Raffensperger told WSB-TV…

RAFFENSPERGER: He would have won by 10,000 votes. He actually depressed, suppressed his own voting base. 

Raffensperger said he believes that’s because President Trump told the public not to trust mail-in voting. 

While President Trump said absentee voting was trustworthy, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told the Washington Post that voters in one study group “were confused about two different kinds of mail-in balloting.”

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) A Boeing 737 Max 9 built for United Airlines lands at King County International Airport – Boeing Field after a test flight from Moses Lake, Wash., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, in Seattle. 

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