Tuesday morning news – November 24, 2020

Michigan certifies Biden victory » Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3rd election. 

That’s the word from the General Services Administration on Monday. The federal agency’s announcement clears the way for Biden to officially begin his transition to the White House. 

That came just hours after election officials in Michigan certified Biden’s victory in the state.

Allies of the Trump campaign had asked for a delay. But the Republican vice-chair of the Board of State Canvassers, Aaron Van Langevelde said the board had a job to do. 

LANGEVELDE: We have a duty to certify this election based on the return. That is very clear.

Georgia certified Biden’s victory on Friday, and Pennsylvania counties have also started certifying vote counts. 

Following Monday’s announcement, President Trump said on Twitter he’s not giving up the legal fight, but he is directing his team to cooperate with the transition. 

Biden announces first cabinet picks » Meantime, President-elect Biden has announced his first Cabinet picks. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Biden on Monday tapped several Obama-era officials for top national security and economic roles. 

He will nominate lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to head Homeland Security, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

For secretary of state, Biden will tap longtime adviser Tony Blinken, steering away from more controversial picks. Other rumored candidates, such as former national security adviser Susan Rice would face strong opposition from Senate Republicans.  

Meanwhile, former Secretary of State John Kerry will take the lead on climate change.

And Biden is expected to pick former Fed Chair Janet Yellen for treasury secretary.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Third coronavirus vaccine impresses in late-stage trials » Another vaccine is fending off the coronavirus at an impressive rate in late-stage trails. 

Drugmaker AstraZeneca teamed up with the University of Oxford to develop the vaccine. And the company said Monday that the latest data showed it to be up to 90 percent effective. 

Oxford vaccinologist Sarah Gilbert…

GILBERT: It’s really excellent to see the high efficacy that we’re now getting out of these trials, coupled with the safety, the ability to manufacture in large doses, because all of that together, this vaccine and other vaccines as well, is what’s going to really make a difference.

Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have shown to be 95 percent effective in late-stage trials. But, unlike its rivals, the Oxford-AstraZeneca offering does not have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. That makes it cheaper and easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.

Immunologist Adam Finn said it will still take months before the world can begin returning to normal. 

FINN: The next challenge is going to be to get enough people immunized fast enough to have an impact on the virus. And that does take time. I mean, it simply takes time to manufacture, to get the vaccines distributed, and then to get them into people’s arms. 

Drugmakers are now in a race to the finish against the virus. As vaccines approach government approval in record time, the coronavirus is spreading faster than ever. 

The number of confirmed daily cases in the United States has tripled since mid-October—now more than 170,000 cases per day. 

Millions pass through U.S. airports ahead of Thanksgiving » That surge comes against the backdrop of the holidays.

And the TSA reports that more than 2 million people passed through airport security scanners Friday and Saturday.

That’s far lower than the normal travel volume the weekend before Thanksgiving. But by current standards, it’s a big number. It’s only the second time since mid-March that passengers have topped 1 million. 

Airlines say they’re trying to shorten lines while sanitizing gates and kiosks, and increasing ventilation.

GM to recall 7 million vehicles over airbags » GM is recalling millions of vehicles worldwide over potentially dangerous Takata air bags that U.S. regulators say run the risk of exploding. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: General Motors will spend more than a billion dollars to recall 7 million full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from model years 2007 through 2014.

The announcement came Monday after the U.S. government told the automaker it must recall 6 million of the vehicles in the United States.

The company argued the air bag inflator canisters have been safe on the road and in testing. But U.S. regulators aren’t convinced. 

Exploding Takata inflators have forced automakers to recall a record 63 million of them. 

Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to fill air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to heat and humidity, and they can explode with too much pressure.

Exploding inflators have killed 27 people worldwide, including 18 in the United States. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) In this July 25, 2013 file photo, Alejandro Mayorkas, President Obama’s then-nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

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