Monday morning news – March 1, 2021

FDA authorizes J&J vaccine » Truckloads of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will soon roll out across the country. 

That after the FDA gave a thumbs up to what will be the third vaccine in emergency use in the United States. The FDA’s Dr. Peter Marks made the announcement Saturday night. 

MARKS: Guided by our careful review of the science and data, we have determined that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits clearly outweigh its known and potential risks. 

Johnson & Johnson expects to ship 20 million doses in the United States this month, and a total of 100 million by the end of June. 

The vaccine has two big advantages over the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines now in use: It can be shipped and stored at refrigerator temperature and it requires only one shot rather than two. 

On the other hand, studies have shown the other two vaccines to be slightly more effective overall. 

But President Biden’s top medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s This Week… 

FAUCI: This is a good vaccine. I think we need to pull away from this comparing and parsing numbers until you compare them head to head. Just be really grateful that we have three really efficacious vaccines. 

The FDA says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness. Studies showed one dose was 85 percent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness. And that protection remained strong even in countries like South Africa, where a worrisome variant of the virus is spreading.

Santa Clara churches hold services after Supreme Court strikes down county ban » Many churches in Santa Clara County, Calif. gathered for worship services yesterday after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the county’s ban on indoor services. 

The justices handed down the ruling Friday night in a case brought by a handful of churches. The court’s three liberal justices dissented.

Earlier this month, the high court told the state of California that it can enforce certain coronavirus restrictions. The justices said the state can cap indoor church gatherings at 25 percent of a building’s capacity and bar singing during services. 

But Santa Clara had argued that its outright ban on indoor gatherings should be allowed to stand. The county said it was treating houses of worship no differently from other indoor spaces where it prohibits organized gatherings. 

Trump slams Biden, teases 2024 campaign at CPAC » Former President Trump delivered his first public speech since leaving office on Sunday, addressing a live crowd in Orlando. 

TRUMP: Well thank you very much and hello CPAC. Do you miss me yet? Do you miss me? 

The former president spoke on the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference. 

Trump told the crowd that despite a rift with some Republican leaders, he has no intention of leaving the party or starting a new one. He said instead that the GOP must unite. 

He also took aim at his successor, criticizing President Biden’s reversal of Trump’s border policies among other things. He said Biden had a—quote—“disastrous first month.” 

The former president also once again claimed that he won the 2020 election and teased another run. 

TRUMP: But who knows? Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time!

The annual event moved out of the Washington D.C. area for the first time ever due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

But that wasn’t the only notable change. Some familiar faces were missing. Several top Republicans decided not to attend this year including former Vice President Mike Pence and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. 

Myanmar security forces open fire on protests, kill 18 » More bloodshed in Myanmar as security forces opened fire on a crowd of pro-democracy demonstrators on Sunday.

That as ruling military leaders continue to crack down on those protesting the recent military coup. 

Ravina Shamdasani is a U.N. spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She said her office has “credible information” that security forces killed 18 people and wounded 30 others on Sunday. 

SHAMSANI: We have seen an increase in the use of force by the military. Today marked a very serious escalation. We have not seen this level of lethal force before in demonstrations.

Observers estimate that security forces also arrested roughly a thousand people yesterday.  

Ravina Shamdasani, speaking for the human rights office said “We strongly condemn the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the military to immediately halt the use of force.”

The military also arrested an Associated Press journalist over the weekend.

(Johnson & Johnson via AP) This July 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine in Belgium. 

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