Wednesday morning news – December 9, 2020


British woman receives first public dose of Pfizer vaccine » AUDIO: [Sound of vaccine being administered]

It was the shot watched round the world. A retired British shop clerk made history on Tuesday. 

Healthcare workers with a round of applause for 90-year-old Margaret Keenan. She received the very first shot in the country’s coronavirus vaccination program. 

Keenan was first in line at University Hospital Coventry. She told reporters it was a privilege to be the first person vaccinated. 

KEENAN: At the moment I don’t know how I feel. It’s just sort of strange and so wonderful really. So anyway, this is for a good cause so I’m so pleased that I had it done. 

The second injection went to an 81-year-old Warwickshire man named William Shakespeare.

Tomorrow, regulators in the United States and Canada could approve the same Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for emergency use. 

Data shows AstraZeneca vaccine safe and largely effective » Meantime, new results show another vaccine to be safe and largely effective against the coronavirus. 

The data suggest a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is about 70 percent effective. 

Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Andrew Pollard said Tuesday…

POLLARD: The important thing about vaccines is that they get to people and that they are protected. And the only way we can do that is by having multiple vaccines available, because there are a lot of people on the planet and we need to get those vaccines out to them as early as possible. 

And that’s one of the advantages of this vaccine. It’s relatively cheap and easy to distribute. 

Questions remain about how well it may protect those over age 55. A mistake led to some confusion around the trial data. Some participants got a half dose followed by a full one, rather than two full doses as intended.

And the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine appears to provide lower levels of protection than some others. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown to be about 95 percent effective. 

Still, experts say the vaccine is likely to win approval in many countries soon. 

Biden introduces healthcare team » President-elect Joe Biden introduced his health care team on Tuesday officially announcing his pick for HHS secretary and other top posts. 

As expected, he is nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. 

He also introduced a quartet of medical doctors who will advise him amid the pandemic. Among them, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

BIDEN: Dr. Fauci is trusted, a truth teller, a patriot. Like every good doctor, he’ll tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know. 

Biden also tapped businessman Jeff Zients to lead the White House coronavirus response. He said Zients is renowned for his crisis management skills.

Meantime, President Trump announced that he has signed an executive order to prioritize the American people. 

TRUMP: To ensure that Americans have first priority to receive American vaccines. And then we’re going to be working with other countries all over the world, and I think we’ll be able to start doing that almost immediately also because we have millions of doses coming in.

Health officials say it will take several months to deliver vaccine shots to most Americans. 

California scrambles to increase hospital capacity » Some California hospitals say they’re close to reaching a breaking point as more and more COVID-19 patients check in. 

That’s prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to bring in hundreds of medical workers from out of state while preparing to re-open emergency hospitals created last spring. 

NEWSOM: On 11/23, just a few weeks ago, we had shy of 6,000 COVID-19 positive patients in our hospital system. Now over 10,000, just like that—72 percent increase.

The state has almost 8,000 ICU beds in total. With the recent surge, only about 1,700 of those beds are now empty. 

California officials are painting a dire picture of overflowing hospitals and exhausted health workers. That as the state records an average of 22,000 new cases each day. 

California has requested nearly 600 health care workers to help in ICUs through a contracting agency and the federal government. 

China slams US sanctions, Taiwan arms sale » China is lashing out at the United States over new U.S. sanctions and the sale of more U.S. military equipment to Taiwan. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The State Department on Monday said 14 Chinese officials are now banned from traveling to the United States or accessing the U.S. financial system. That in response to Beijing’s crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong. 

The Trump administration also approved a $280 million sale of advanced military communications equipment to Taiwan.

Chinese Foriegn Minister Zheng Zeguang said the U.S. actions—quote—“violated the basic norms of international relations, seriously interfered in China’s domestic politics” and damaged China-U.S. relations. He also called the moves “arrogant, unreasonable, and vile.” 

He said China will “take resolute and forceful countermeasures.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.


(Jacob King/Pool via AP) 90 year old Margaret Keenan, the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse May Parsons at University Hospital, Coventry, England, Tuesday Dec. 8, 2020. 

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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