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Nov 10, 2020: Pfizer Shows Good Vaccine Data
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

Big pharma megacorp Pfizer claims that it has a working coronavirus vaccine that’s effective 90 percent of the time, according to early data the company released today.

Meanwhile, turmoil at the White House as Trump fires the Secretary of Defense, more close officials catch coronavirus, and tabloids report that staffers are burning scented candles to cover up the smell of Trump and his cronies’ fast food deliveries.

And lastly, a shocking peace deal appears to have ended, at least on paper, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also sparked massive protests in Armenia’s capitol.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Pfizer, one of the biggest drug companies in the world, announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine showed that it works pretty well.

How well? Pfizer says that in clinical trials, early data suggests that their vaccine was 90 percent effective in keeping uninfected patients free from the virus after exposure. That puts it on roughly the same level as something like the measles vaccine. You don’t hear much about measles anymore, except in extreme anti-vaxx cases, so that’s a promising sign!

But we’re still hedging all of this. Pfizer is only claiming this is early data. They clearly need to gather more information -- particularly on the long-term safety and efficacy of the vaccine. So that 90 percent figure could change.

But they are confident enough to have asked the FDA for an emergency authorization of the vaccine, and hope to have between 15-20 million doses produced by the end of the year.

Then, the big hurdle is distribution. Pfizer’s vaccine uses a temperamental protein called mRNA which has to be kept extremely cold, which makes shipping the doses pretty tricky. Fortunately, there are at least 11 other companies also working on cures, some of which will have early results in later this month, so all our eggs aren’t in one big pharma basket here.

White House Is A Smelly Plague Den

And now, let’s check in with the White House. Things are not going so well. President Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on Monday, a move which doesn’t exactly bode well for general stability in the coming months.

Esper and Trump had clashed in the past because Esper opposed sending in troops to crack down on Black Lives Matter protests this summer.

For Esper’s part, though, he’s probably glad he’s gone, because once again the coronavirus is spreading among Trump’s inner circle. Three people who were at the President’s election party last week, including Trump’s chief of staff and housing secretary Ben Carson, have now tested positive.

The third case is David Bossie, the advisor who Trump recently tapped to spearhead the legal challenges against Biden’s wins in battleground states like Georgia and Nevada. Probably not a great time for him to get sick!

The funniest detail, however, comes via the Daily Mail -- so all the caveats about that paper apply. The Mail reports that some staffers have been lighting rose-scented candles to cover up the incessant smell of fast food delivered to Trump and his inner circle. Clearly the big guy isn’t handling things too well.

But back in the real world: one troubling sign in all this is that Mitch McConnell hasn’t fully cut Trump loose yet, arguing on Monday that the President was quote “100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” endquote. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Trump’s claims, but it’s not an overt acceptance of Biden either.

The Biden camp, meanwhile, is continuing to remind everyone that they won’t mess all this up when they eventually take over, announcing a roster of actual scientists and experts to form their incoming coronavirus task force. Meanwhile, on CNN earlier today, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hasn’t spoken to Trump since the president was in Walter Reed hospital with the disease himself. Sounds about right.

Armenia Peace Deal Provokes Chaos

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan may be coming to a dramatic and controversial end, after Armenia’s president announced that he had signed a peace treaty with Russia and Azerbaijan.

The deal comes in the wake of several key victories by Azerbaijan’s military, which recently captured a major town in the contested region of Nagorno Karabakh [NA GOR NO CAR AH BAK]. The region is largely recognized to be part of Azerbaijan, although its residents are mostly ethnically Armenian and consider themselves citizens of an autonomous Republic of Artsakh [ART SAKH].

The deal, signed by Armenia president Nikol Pashinyan [NIK PASH IN YAN], appears to have effectively surrendered most of the region to Azerbaijan and Russia, and has been met with immediately widespread protests in Armenia’s capitol of Yerevan. The protests are not at all

peaceful, either -- early videos coming out of the city show protesters breaking into government buildings.

It’s pretty unclear what will happen next, as these protests just flared up late on Monday night. It looks like when the dust settles there will be a new balance of power in the region, which is a mess of conflicting interests between Turkey, Russia, and the warring powers themselves.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

One last White House tidbit we couldn’t squeeze in: CNN reports that John McEntee, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, is telling the administration’s staffers that if he catches them looking for another job they’ll be fired outright. That’s probably not looking like much of a punishment at this point!

In New York City, the NYPD announced that the streets around Trump tower would be quote “periodically” shut down to pedestrians. In other words, they don’t want protesters anywhere near the president’s precious apartment building.

After the disappointing showing downballot, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head Cheri Bustos is stepping down from her job. We now wait with baited breath to see if her replacement will be any more competent.

And finally, what could be a significant storyline this week: Attorney General Bill Barr authorized the Department of Justice to probe quote “'substantial allegations” of voter fraud. Basically, saying that he’s more than willing to go out doing Trump’s bidding till the end and weaponizing his supposedly nonpartisan agency at the same time.

Nov 10, 2020 - AM QUICKIE

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn