No Bull With Raging Robert.
Johnson & Johnson
A single-shot vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is safe for use and effective at preventing COVID-19, the US Food and Drug Administration concluded yesterday. The results come ahead of an advisory panel meeting tomorrow to decide whether to recommend emergency use authorization. If approved, the drug would become the third available vaccine in the US.
Previous data showed the vaccine to be 72% effective at preventing moderate and severe cases (85% effective when considering just severe cases) of the disease in US trials. Most notably, no deaths were reported in a group of more than 44,000 participants. The vaccine also appears largely effective against the most prominent variants.
The vaccine relies on an engineered adenovirus — a weakened form of a relatively harmless virus — to carry snippets of genetic code resembling the coronavirus into cells. Once in, the body’s immune system develops a response capable of fighting full-fledged COVID-19 infections. See a great visual breakdown here.
The company has said it can deliver up to 20 million doses, which can be stored at standard refrigeration temperatures, by the end of March and 100 million doses by July.
The US has reported a total of 505,890 COVID-19 deaths, up roughly 3,230 from yesterday. More than 45 million people have received at least one vaccine dose as of this morning.
Lindsey Boylan, an ex-aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), accused her former boss yesterday of multiple instances of sexual harassment ranging over a period of almost three years. The allegations include a 2017 incident in which Boylan says Cuomo suggested playing strip poker aboard a flight, and a separate 2018 incident in which Cuomo kissed her without warning as she tried to leave his office following a one-on-one briefing.
Boylan, who initially made the charges in December on Twitter but provided no further detail, laid out the accusations in a Medium post yesterday. Included in the post are emails from Cuomo’s senior staff that corroborate parts of Boylan’s story. Cuomo’s office called the claims false, and the governor previously denied the initial December allegations.
The accusations come as Cuomo faces fallout for allegedly obscuring the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths early in the pandemic.
Landmark Syrian Conviction
A German court convicted a former Syrian intelligence officer to more than four years in prison for aiding crimes against humanity in a landmark ruling yesterday. Eyad al-Gharib, 44, was accused of involvement in the arresting of at least 30 anti-government protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, who were then subject to torture.
Gharib fled Syria’s civil war and applied for asylum in Germany, claiming to have defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s government. In 2019, he was arrested along with another former officer, Anwar Raslan, under the principle of universal jurisdiction and went on trial in April 2020.
The conviction marks the first time a foreign court has ruled on state-sponsored abuses by the Assad regime. Human-rights activists say at least 100,000 people have died from torture or harsh conditions since the conflict began almost 10 years ago.
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IN THE KNOW
Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Officials determine Tiger Woods’ car crash was an accident; Woods was not drinking and no criminal charges will be filed (More) | Here’s how surgeons describe Tiger’s challenging recovery ahead (More)
> “Mission: Impossible 7,” “A Quiet Place Part II” among marquee films to be released on new streamer Paramount Plus 45 days after theatrical release (More)
> Bruce Springsteen’s drunk and reckless driving charges stemming from November arrest are dropped; Springsteen pleaded guilty to drinking alcohol in a federal park (More)
Science & Technology
> MIT Technology Review releases its annual forecast of breakthrough technologies for 2021; notable mentions include mRNA vaccines, AI-powered GPT-3 language generator, and the TikTok recommendation algorithms (More)
> Study finds exercise facilitates the generation of immune cells in bone marrow (More)
> US Air Force demonstrates its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, hitting a target at a distance of 4,200 miles (More)
Business & Markets
> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.1%, Dow +1.4%, Nasdaq +1.0%); Dow closes at fresh record high after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterates continued support of US economy (More) | Video game retailer GameStop surges 104%, other “meme stocks” also pop (More)
> More than 150 CEOs from some of America’s leading companies urge Congress to pass $1.9T stimulus package (More) | House likely to vote tomorrow on Biden administration’s $1.9T stimulus package (More)
> Joby Aviation — maker of electric, vertical takeoff aircraft — to go public via SPAC at $6.6B valuation (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Senate committee delays vote on Neera Tanden’s nomination as budget office director; Tanden, the current head of the think tank Center for American Progress, has caught backlash over past tweets (More)
> Australia passes scaled-back version of law requiring certain internet companies to pay per link for news articles shared by users on their platforms (More)
NYT | Dave Itzkoff. Legendary comedians Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall discuss what it was like to reunite for “Coming 2 America,” the upcoming sequel to their 1988 classic. (Read, $$)
The Declassified Story of Juanita Moody
Smithsonian | David Wolman. Despite a three-decade, award-winning career as an intelligence officer, Juanita Moody’s pivotal role in guiding the US through the Cuban Missile Crisis remained almost entirely unknown for years. (Read)
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“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
- Muhammad Ali