Tuesday morning news – November 17, 2020

Health officials optimistic about coronavirus vaccine in December » Health officials are more optimistic than ever that a coronavirus vaccine is just weeks away. That after biotech company Moderna said Monday its vaccine appears to be almost 95 percent effective. 

Moderna President Stephen Hoge told reporters Monday… 

HOGE: We hope to have about 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year, the calendar year, and we’re looking forward to making 500 million to a billion doses next year, but that is going to be a 24/7 operation.

Just last week, drugmaker Pfizer announced that its vaccine also appears to have a 90-plus percent success rate. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Fox News …

AZAR: The Moderna one is more flexible. It can be kept in regular freezer or refrigeration, so it’s going to be amenable to that program we announced last week—going to your local chain or community pharmacist and getting vaccinated.

But experts say it will take multiple vaccines to entirely control the virus. 

Under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the federal government has paid the companies to ramp up vaccine production even as testing is ongoing. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, is the program’s chief scientific adviser. 

SLAOUI: Potentially two vaccines and two therapeutics may be granted an emergency use authorization before the end of this year. I think it’s a remarkable achievement within six to seven months. 

U.S. top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the Phase 3 test results—quote—“truly striking.” Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a vaccine that was 60 percent effective.

Biden calls on Trump admin. to coordinate with his transition team » Meantime, Joe Biden on Monday said it’s time for the White House to loop him in on plans to distribute the vaccine. 

Biden, who expects to take over the Oval Office in January said his team needs to line up its plan of attack against COVID-19 right now. 

BIDEN: If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half. So it’s important it be done, that there be coordination. 

President Trump is still challenging election results in several states and his administration is not yet working with Biden’s transition team. 

Also on Monday, the former vice president held an online meeting with labor union leaders and top industry execs about how to revive the economy after the pandemic. 

Among the attendees, the CEOs of Microsoft, GM, and Target. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka also participated. 

Stocks soar on positive vaccine report » AUDIO: [Closing bell]

A big day on Wall Street Monday. Just as Pfizer’s positive test results cheered investors last week, Monday’s Moderna news boosted stocks once again. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The Dow soared 472 points to a new record high. And the S&P 500 jumped nearly 1.2 percent, also setting a new record. 

Travel related companies were big winners on Monday … as optimism grows that the world may begin to return to normal in the coming months. Cruise lines and airlines got a boost. 

Boeing stock also rose, both because of the vaccine news … and because of reports that the FAA may finally unground the company’s 737 MAX jets later this week. 

On the flipside, companies that have benefited from the stay-at-home economy were down, including Zoom and Netflix.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Michigan gov. imposes new restrictions, warns of possible lockdown » Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she does have the authority to impose a second large scale lockdown. 

But she told reporters she hopes it won’t come to that and she urged Michiganers to abide by current coronavirus restrictions. 

WHITMER: This is what we’re hoping, that people rise to this challenge and meet it together, and we push our numbers down so we can avoid more aggressive measures.

The Democratic governor spoke with reporters a day after announcing limits to curb a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Under the restrictions that start tomorrow, Michigan high schools and colleges will halt in-person classes, restaurants must stop indoor dining and entertainment venues must close for three weeks. 

But many small businesses are pushing back. Brian Calley with the Small Business Association of Michigan said Monday…

CALLEY: This will mean catastrophic failure for many of them. They’re just in no condition to weather these types of conditions given the fact that some of them were required to be closed for five or six months earlier this year.

The new measures also impose new limits on group gatherings. 

Whitmer said with new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all spiking in Michigan, the state simply has no choice but to act. 

Another hurricane slams Central America » Central America is enduring the wrath of another hurricane this morning—this one a monster. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Hurricane Iota slammed the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua last night after strengthening into a Category 5 storm.

It roared ashore packing winds around 160 miles per hour. And it’s hammering the same part of Central America that Hurricane Eta ravaged less than two weeks ago. 

Iota is certain to trigger more landslides and floods as its wind and rain pound soil that is still soaked from the last storm. 

And forecasters have warned storm surge could reach a shocking 15 to 20 feet above normal tides.

Officials spent the weekend and much of Monday evacuating residents from low-lying areas. 

Iota is expected to push into Honduras later today. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File) In this July 27, 2020, file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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