AP MORNING WIRE
Good morning. In today's AP Morning Wire:
- Vaccine faces last hurdle before US decision; Canada approves it.
- India battles twin crises: critical air pollution and the pandemic.
- US antitrust siege of giant tech widens with lawsuits vs Facebook.
- AP photographers capture a sports world disrupted in 2020.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR – GLOBAL NEWS COORDINATION, LONDON
POOL VIA AP/LIAM MCBURNEY
Pfizer coronavirus vaccine faces last hurdle before US decision; Canada approves it; UK probing if allergic reactions linked to same COVID-19 shots
There have been many punishing pandemic chapters in 2020 — the beginning, the global spread, mass death in springtime and beyond, lockdowns and economies battered, reopenings and alarming resurgences. This week, the vaccine quantum leap has offered the promise of light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which was co-developed with Germany’s BioNTech, faces one final and critical hurdle before an expected decision to greenlight the shot for use in millions of Americans. Food and Drug Administration advisers meet today to scrutinize the company's data for any red flags or oversights.
Safety will be the top priority for the panel of medical experts who will vote on whether to endorse the vaccine. They will also address unknowns about the vaccine's effectiveness in certain groups. A final FDA decision and the first shots could follow within days, Lauran Neergaard and Matthew Perrone report.
U.S. Vaccine Poll: A new survey from The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has found only about half of Americans are ready to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines even as states frantically prepare to begin months of vaccinations that could end the pandemic. The poll shows about a quarter of U.S. adults aren't sure if they want to get vaccinated when their turn comes. Roughly another quarter say they won't, Lauran Neergaard and Hannah Fingerhut report.
Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine? The AP is answering Viral Questions in this series.
U.S. Surge: As the death toll soars, with 3,000 virus fatalities recorded in what is a single-day record, arguments over mask requirements have turned ugly in recent days as the surge engulfs small and medium-size cities that once seemed at a safe remove from the pandemic. The crisis is expected to get worse nationwide. But resistance to wearing masks has become more vocal and risks turning violent. Some claim the dangers of the virus are overblown and mask requirements are a violation of their civil liberties. Heather Hollingsworth and Ryan Foley report.
Canada's Green Light: The country's health regulator has approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine. Canada is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and 4 million doses by March. The government has purchased 20 million doses of that vaccine, which requires people to receive two doses each, and it has the option to buy 56 million more. Health Canada is reviewing three other vaccine candidates, including one from Moderna, Rob Gillies reports from Toronto.
U.K.'s Warning: As others proceed, Britain’s medical regulator has warned that people with a history of serious allergic reactions to a vaccine, medicine or food shouldn’t receive the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech as investigators look into whether two reactions on the first day of the country’s vaccination program were linked to the shot. The advice was issued on a “precautionary basis.” The people who had reactions have recovered. Pfizer and BioNTech say they are working with authorities but that late-stage trials found no serious safety concerns, Danica Kirka reports from London.
Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government will begin administering Pfizer vaccines to the general public on Dec. 27. He said Israel is prepared to vaccinate some 60,000 people a day. There was no immediate word on whether Israel would be providing vaccines to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank or the blockaded Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
''Vaccine Nationalism'': U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that “vaccine nationalism” is moving “at full speed,” leaving poor people around the globe watching preparations for inoculations against the coronavirus in some rich nations and wondering if and when they will be vaccinated. He reiterated his call for vaccines to be treated as “a global public good,” available to everyone, everywhere on the planet.
AP PHOTO/MANISH SWARUP
Battling twin crises of the coronavirus and pollution, India’s pandemic recovery plan could cost air quality goals
“I drive the bus in constant fear," a driver in the Indian capital New Delhi says. He is trapped between the country's two public health emergencies: critically polluted air and the pandemic.
This dual threat is most pronounced in New Delhi, where the spike in winter pollution levels has coincided with a surge of COVID-19 cases, from where Aniruddha Ghosal reports.
With its economy hollowed out, experts fear that long-term air quality goals such as weaning power plants from dirty fossil fuels are taking a back seat in a recovery plan that remains heavily reliant on energy sources that produce carbon emissions.
Even short-term emergency measures to improve air quality, such as limiting cars, have been hindered by the virus.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER VIA AP/POOL/GRAEME JENNINGS
US antitrust siege of tech widens with lawsuits vs Facebook for 'predatory' conduct
The giant tech companies whose services are woven into the fabric of social life are now the targets of a widening assault by U.S. government competition enforcers.
Regulators filed landmark antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, the second major government offensive this year against once seemingly untouchable tech behemoths.
The Federal Trade Commission and 48 U.S. states and districts sued the social network giant, accusing it of abusing its market power to squash smaller competitors, labelling it ''predatory acquisition,'' Marcy Gordon and Michael R. Sisak report.
Remedies are being sought that could include a forced spinoff of Facebook’s prized Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services. The company’s conduct has crimped consumers’ choices and harmed their data privacy, the regulators charged.
Once lionized and feted as innovators and job creators — and largely left alone by Washington for nearly two decades — Big Tech companies have seen their political fortunes plummet. Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have come under scrutiny from the U.S. Congress, federal regulators, state attorneys general and European authorities.
2020: A Year in Sports Photos
AP photographers capture a sports world disrupted in 2020
The faces of sporting endeavor in 2020, new and old, may have been familiar. But the images that most defined this year, on and off the fields, pitches, diamonds, courts and courses all over the world, definitely were not.
Spend some time with this striking gallery of 75 images.
As with much of daily life, COVID-19 ravaged and turned the sporting calendar inside out from March onward.
Of the major events, competitions, tournaments and leagues, the Olympic Games in Tokyo and football's European Championships were postponed until 2021. Others were delayed and then played in empty stadia, before some fans began trickling back within strict virus conditions.
Other Top Stories
As President Donald Trump continues to press his argument that the vote was rigged against him, the machinery of government and democracy is moving inexorably toward Joe Biden's presidency. As a judge put it this week, "this ship has sailed." Trump has refused to recognize that fact and vows to press on with his challenges. But Biden is firmly on track to become president Jan. 20, after having won a decisive majority of the electoral vote. In dozens of cases heard by courts, no systemic fraud or even consequential error has been established.
An AP investigation has identified at least six sexual misconduct allegations involving senior FBI officials over the past five years, including two new claims brought this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents. The AP found several of the accused FBI officials were quietly transferred or retired, keeping their full pensions even when probes substantiated the sexual misconduct claims. Beyond that, federal law enforcement officials are afforded anonymity even after the disciplinary process runs its course, allowing them to land on their feet in the private sector or even remain in law enforcement.
China says it is imposing restrictions on travel to Hong Kong by some U.S. officials and others in retaliation for similar measures imposed on Chinese individuals by Washington. U.S. diplomatic passport holders visiting Hong Kong and nearby Macao will temporarily no longer receive visa-free entry privileges. U.S. officials, congressional staffers, employees of non-governmental organizations and their immediate family members will face “reciprocal sanctions." The U.S. has barred certain Chinese and Hong Kong officials from traveling to the U.S. or having dealings with the U.S. financial system over their roles in enforcing a sweeping National Security Law that ushered in a crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong.
A heated debate is underway in Lebanon over the fate of the towering grain silos gutted in the massive explosion at the Beirut port that killed more than 200 people in August. Some argue the silos could collapse at any moment and must be demolished. Others call for the ruins to be preserved as a grim memorial, fearing that officials behind the negligence blamed for the explosion want to erase the memory of what happened. The silos, which stored up to 85% of Lebanon’s grains, took the brunt of the blast, saving parts of Beirut in what was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.