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News Wrap: FDA reports Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective against COVID symptoms

In our news wrap Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration reported Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine is 66-percent effective against moderate and severe symptoms, President Biden's attempt to halt most immigrant deportations for 100 days is on hold, and a former staffer for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo escalates her claims of sexual assault.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    There's been movement on several fronts in the pandemic today.

    The White House announced plans to deliver more than 25 million face masks to hard-hit minority communities. And the Food and Drug Administration reported that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is 66 percent effective against moderate and severe symptoms.

    The company, we should note, is a "NewsHour" funder.

    The FDA could grant emergency approval for the new vaccine on Friday.

  • Jeff Zients:

    If authorized, we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay. We anticipate allocating three to four million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week. Johnson & Johnson has announced it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Officials also announced the National Institutes of Health will research lingering symptoms of COVID, including breathing trouble, malaise and brain fog.

    And Ghana became the first nation to receive vaccine shipments from the COVAX initiative, designed to aid poor nations. We will focus on vaccine equity later in the program.

    President Biden signed an executive order today to review supply chains for surgical masks, computer chips and other critical goods. The signing ceremony followed a meeting with lawmakers on the problem. Mr. Biden voiced concerns about America's reliance on foreign manufacturers.

    The president's attempt to halt most immigrant deportations for 100 days is now on hold indefinitely. Late Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas barred enforcement of the moratorium. The state had claimed that the pause would violate federal law and cost the state more money. The same judge initially issued a temporary order against the moratorium.

    President Biden also faces growing questions about Neera Tanden's chances of leading the Office of Management and Budget. Two Senate panels abruptly postponed votes on the nomination today. But the White House dismissed questions about a possible replacement.

  • Jen Psaki:

    The stage we're in is working to continue to fight for her nomination. And, as you know, it's a numbers game, right? It's a matter of getting one Republican to support her nomination. We're continuing to do that outreach, answer questions they have, and continue to reiterate her qualifications.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Key Republican moderates and one Democrat have come out against Tanden over her combative tweets. We will look at her nomination fight after the news summary.

    The nominee for CIA director, William Burns, says the U.S. must confront what he calls predatory leadership in China. Burns is a former ambassador to Russia. He told his Senate confirmation hearing today that, unlike the old Soviet Union, China has both technological and economic power.

  • William Burns:

    The challenge posed by Xi Jinping's China, by an adversarial China, it's hard for me to see a more significant threat or challenge for the United States as far out as I can see into the 21st century than that one. It is the biggest geopolitical test that we face.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Burns also called for closing Chinese-backed cultural centers known as Confucius Institutes at U.S. universities. He charged that they are, essentially, propaganda tools.

    A former staffer for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has escalated her accusation against him of sexual harassment. Lindsey Boylan posted online today that Cuomo kissed her, repeatedly touched her and once joked they should play strip poker. Cuomo's office said that the claims are — quote — "quite simply false."

    A federal grand jury in Minneapolis will hear testimony in the death of George Floyd, in a renewed civil rights investigation. The New York Times and others report a main focus is Derek Chauvin. He's the white former police officer who held Floyd down as he struggled to breathe. Chauvin already faces state murder charges.

    More than 80,000 victims of California wildfires sued former managers of Pacific Gas & Electric today for dereliction of duty. The utility's equipment ignited fires that killed more than 100 people and destroyed 25,000 homes in 2017 and 2018. The suit names nearly two dozen former executives and board members.

    On Wall Street, bank stocks helped lift the broader market, as interest rates rose. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 424 points to close at 31961. The Nasdaq rose 132 points, and the S&P 500 added 44.

    And Fanne Foxe, the stripper at the center of one of Washington's most infamous scandals, has died. Her affair with powerful Arkansas Congressman Wilbur Mills burst into public view in 1974, when police pulled their limousine, and Foxe leaped out of the car and into the Washington Tidal Basin. The incident ultimately ended Mills' career.

    Fanne Foxe was 84 years old.

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