Pfizer says its vaccine is more than 90% effective
After months of rising coronavirus cases and lockdown after lockdown, the world got a glimmer of good news on Monday. Pfizer announced preliminary results of its clinical study showing that the vaccine developed with German company BioNTech is extremely effective. If the results persist, the level of protection would equate the Covid-19 vaccine with highly effective vaccines for children against diseases such as measles. The stock markets rose after the announcement.
The UK expects 10 million doses of the vaccine to be available by the end of the year pending regulatory approval. Frontline workers and older adults would be among the first to receive it. Here’s what we know about the vaccine so far.
Vaccine tracker: Eleven vaccines are in late-stage trials, including four in the US. Pfizer’s progress could bode well for Moderna’s vaccine, which uses similar technology. Check our tracker here.
What Biden’s victory means for Brexit
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in the final stages of an attempt to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union. This complex challenge became more and more urgent with the defeat of his ally and ideological partner, President Trump.
Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election could add further strain to Britain’s negotiations with Brussels. Another failure would almost certainly reverberate badly in Ireland. Often and fondly speaking of his Irish roots, Mr Biden has already warned Mr Johnson not to do anything in his trade negotiations that could jeopardize peace in Northern Ireland.
Mr Johnson is on an uncertain footing: Mr Biden opposed Brexit, is unlikely to prioritize a trade deal with London and has ruled out such an agreement altogether if Britain does anything to dilute Northern Ireland’s protection under the withdrawal agreement. Mr Johnson must now reconcile his determination to pressure Brussels with his desire not to upset Mr Biden.
Quote: “The election completely changed the game,” said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.
A possible end to the Nagorno-Karabakh war
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan yesterday signed a Russia-brokered deal to end the conflict on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He gave up disputed territory and bowed to other demands as he faced defeat on the battlefield. The agreement provides for Armenian troops to withdraw from the enclave, where they will be replaced by Russian peacekeepers.
While three previous ceasefires have collapsed, this deal points to a more permanent and comprehensive redesign of the security map of the South Caucasus, a volatile region between Turkey, Russia and Iran. The settlement sealed a role in the region for an increasingly assertive Turkey supporting Azerbaijan in the war that began in September.
Protests broke out in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, within hours of the announcement. A crowd broke into the main government building and tore Mr. Pashinyan’s nameplate from the door of the Prime Minister’s office, according to footage from Russian television news.
Official remarks: “Personally, I made a very difficult decision for myself and all of us,” Pashinyan wrote in a statement announcing the deal. “It’s not a victory, but there is no defeat.”
How it started: The heads of state and government of the federal states had agreed for years to postpone the discussion about the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh. But in the spring, Mr. Pashinyan declared the area undeniably Armenian, which resulted in a return to all-out war.
If you have 10 minutes, it’s worth it
The end of ‘America First’
President-elect Joe Biden says he will re-enter Iran’s nuclear deal, renew a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, and double US commitments to NATO in order to quickly bury “America First” – President Trump’s guiding principle of foreign policy.
But the world looks different now. Electricity vacuum was often created and filled by China. Democracies have withdrawn. While foreign allies may reassure Mr Biden, they also admit that they can never have full confidence that the US will not rebuild walls and make working with allies an afterthought.
The following also happens
Israel: President Trump’s defeat put Israel and longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the list of US foreign policy priorities at the end of an abrupt downgrade after four years of harsh treatment. Mr Biden has promised a return to a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
British Racism: Lord Kilclooney, a member of the House of Lords, has been heavily criticized by lawmakers for calling Kamala Harris, the US Vice President-elect, “the Indian” on Twitter. He removed the comment but defended his contribution.
US policy: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell backed President Trump’s refusal to allow the presidential election. to argue in the Senate that Mr. Trump is “100 percent in his rights” to question the election result. Only four Republican Senators have recognized Mr. Biden’s victory.
Myanmar’s second choice: The elections, in which the ruling party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was expected to be the largest force in the country’s parliament, saw voters in large numbers on Sunday.
Snapshot: A small aluminum capsule in eastern France near Ingersheim, a town in Alsace, contained a centuries-old message written in ink at the top in Gothic-looking script. When analyzing the note, experts found that it was apparently written by a Prussian infantry officer during World War I.
Lived life: Viola Smith, a virtuoso percussionist dubbed “World’s Fastest Drummer,” who performed at the inauguration of President Harry Truman and worked with Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb, died last month at the age of 107.
In other ba-dum-tss messages: The 10-year-old Briton Nandi Bushell found an audience with her impressive drum performances on YouTube. But it was her challenge to Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl that brought her to fame. (Spoiler: After an epic encounter, Mr. Grohl admitted defeat.)
What we hear: This episode of the Sway podcast with the couple’s counselor, Esther Perel. “It’s the comforting listening that you didn’t know you needed,” says Melina Delkic, who writes the Asia briefing, “comparing our interpersonal relationships with larger, more strained global dynamics.”
Now a break from the news
Cook: This simple three-cup Taiwanese chicken can be a starting point. Our food editor Sam Sifton invites you to customize the recipe and make it your own.
Clock: New offerings from HBO this week are “Transhood,” a documentary that chronicles the lives of families raising transgender children, and “Industry,” a new drama that follows graduates working in London’s banking world.
Do: Older adults who break one bone are at high risk of breaking another, often within two years. Here is some advice to help prevent further fractures.
You might be overdue for something new. At home, you have ideas for what to read, cook, see, and do while being safe at home.
And now for the background story about …
What can Biden expect?
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has announced four priorities for his administration: Covid-19, economic recovery, racial justice and climate change. Our DealBook reporters highlighted some of the biggest hurdles Mr. Biden faces.
Divisions among Democrats. Immediately after the race, the party’s progressive and moderate wings accused each other that the Democrats in the House of Representatives had resigned and had not gained clear control over the Senate.
Standstill with Republicans. Whether the Republicans keep the Senate will not be decided until there are two runoff elections in Georgia in January. In this case, Mr. Biden has a solid work history with lawmaker who will be majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. This enables bipartisan action on issues such as infrastructure and economic stimulus, although after such bitter elections neither side can be in the mood to compromise.
Balance the closet. Mr. Biden’s first major appointments were made on Monday: He selected 13 members for his coronavirus task force. Future appointments will show how he intends to balance left, right, and center concerns.
Let trading tensions cool down. The days of presidential tweets threatening trade wars may be over, but few foresee major change. Mr. Biden’s focus is at home, so pandemic aid is a priority even as allies urge him to respond to tariffs. In the long term, the Biden economic plan focuses on “bringing critical supply chains home so that we are not dependent on other countries in future crises”.
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh took the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode is about the American reactions to the elections.
• Here’s our mini crossword and clue: What Pac-Man Eats (four letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Our colleague Tara Parker-Pope shared a beautiful video of a former ballerina with Alzheimer’s that was transported by a recording from Swan Lake. She wrote, “Music holds (and unlocks) so many of our memories.”
• Jane Coaston from Vox is the new host of our podcast “The Argument”.