Tuesday morning news – December 1, 2020

Moderna seeks vaccine approval from U.S., European regulations » Biotech firm Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine is ready. 

The company is asking U.S. and European regulators for the green light to start distributing it to the public. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he expects the FDA will grant an emergency use authorization. 

AZAR: It’ll ship within 24 hours after FDA approval, and then it’s going to be up to our nursing homes, our hospitals, our pharmacies to get that dispensed. So it really could be within days of FDA approval, we’ll start seeing vaccines in people’s arms. 

An FDA panel will meet on Dec. 17th to review Moderna’s application one week after the committee reviews a Pfizer application for its vaccine. 

Moderna got the final needed results over the weekend to submit its application. 

Tens of thousands of volunteers participated in Moderna’s clinical trial.

Of those who received the real vaccine, rather than a dummy shot, only 11 people tested positive for COVID-19. And none of those 11 got severely ill. 

Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks said Monday…

ZAKS: When I saw the final results last night—they came in a little earlier than we had planned for—I allowed myself to cry for the first time. 

Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far mean they meet requirements set by the FDA. European regulators have signaled that they’re open to faster “conditional” clearance for the vaccine. 

SCOTUS hears arguments in census case » The Supreme sounded skeptical Monday of President Trump’s plan to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count.

The government uses that census data to determine how many representatives each state sends to Congress.

During oral arguments, Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall argued…

WALL: The president has at least some discretion to determine that at least some illegal aliens lack enduring ties to the states.

He said one possibility is that the president might try to exclude from the headcount immigrants now in detention centers or those who have been ordered to leave the country.

Justice Samuel Alito said he can see an argument for that. But

ALITO: If they’re going for the bigger picture and trying to identify everybody who is in this country unlawfully, I don’t see how they can provide a partial answer to that. 

He said with only a month left in the year, trying to identify and exclude some 10 million immigrants would be “a monumental task.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett was among several justices wary of the president’s efforts to claim broad discretion over who to leave out of the count. She told White House counsel—quote—“a lot of the historical evidence and long-standing practice really cuts against your position.”

The court is fast tracking the case because time is running out. The Census Bureau is supposed to send the data to President Trump by Dec. 31st. 

Biden names leaders of communications team » President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received their first Presidential Daily Brief on Monday. 

The classified briefing summarizes the most important and sensitive U.S. intelligence.

Also this week, Biden announced the leaders of his White House communications team. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Biden will have an all-female senior communications team with Kate Bedingfield serving as director. 

Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.

Both are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice president. And Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department.

Ashley Etienne, who once led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comms team will assume that role for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. 

Another Obama administration alum, Karine Jean Pierre, also will join the team. She’ll serve as Harris’s principal deputy press secretary. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Biden fractures foot » President-elect Biden will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks after breaking his right foot while playing with his dog. 

His office said Biden suffered the injury over the weekend and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon.

Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one. At 78 he will become the nation’s oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January.

Iran accuses Israel of using “electronic devices” to kill nuclear scientist » A top Iranian security official is accusing Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely kill a top nuclear scientist. 

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh founded the country’s military nuclear program in the 2000s. 


Iran held a military funeral for the late scientist on Monday. 

Officials in Tehran are now changing their story on how he died. Authorities initially said a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire on the scientist. 

But now state TV claims investigators found electronic devices at the scene of the attack that bore the markings of the Israeli military industry. 

The new reports claimed the attackers controlled the weapons “by satellite.”

Israel has declined to comment, but Iran suspects the country of killing other nuclear scientists over the past decade.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) In this Nov. 6, 2020, file photo then-Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives with his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to speak in Wilmington, Del.

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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