News Wrap: Pfizer starts clinical trial of omicron-based vaccine

In our news wrap Tuesday, Pfizer began a clinical trial of an updated COVID-19 vaccine designed to ward off the highly contagious omicron variant. The International Monetary Fund slashed its growth forecast citing the omicron variant and other factors. London's Metropolitan Police Service will investigate gatherings held at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's offices during a COVID lockdown in 2020.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Pfizer began a clinical trial of an updated COVID vaccine designed to ward off the highly contagious Omicron variant.

    Final results could take months to come in. But the company said the trial won't affect its pledge to produce four billion doses of vaccine this year.

    There is new evidence that the Omicron surge is slowing the world economy. The International Monetary Fund today slashed its growth forecast, citing Omicron and other factors. It now estimates global growth of 4.4 percent this year. That is down half-a-point from the last forecast.

    The so-called pandemic Partygate scandal in Britain has broadened. London's Metropolitan Police said today they will investigate gatherings held at the offices of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a COVID lockdown in 2020. In response, the prime minister told Parliament he is cooperating fully, and his office denied violating COVID curbs.

  • Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister:

    I welcome the Met's decision to conduct its own investigation, because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Johnson is already facing calls to resign over the scandal.

    Russia's crackdown on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his allies intensified today. Authorities added them to a list of terrorists and extremists, freezing their bank accounts. Navalny is already in prison for violating terms of a suspended sentence.

    North Korea has fired off more missiles for the fifth time this month. South Korea's military said they appeared to be two cruise missiles that landed in the sea off North Korea's east coast. The U.N. Security Council has banned North Korea from launching ballistic missiles, but not the lower-flying cruise models.

    Major roads and highways reopened in Greece and Turkey today after severe winter storms dumped more than 30 inches of snow. Flights resumed at Istanbul Airport in Turkey's largest city, where hundreds of people had been stranded.

    In Athens, crews cleared fallen trees and freed people who had been stuck inside their cars overnight.

  • Yannis Kotsis, Athens Resident (through translator):

    It's unacceptable that so many were trapped for so many hours with no help. It's not enough that they became trapped. Aid came after dark. It's unacceptable.

  • Nikos Gouvalis, Athens Resident (through translator):

    They could have at least managed the roads. They could have predicted it. I have known for the last 10 days about this weather forecast. For 10 days now, we have known that the weather was going to be like this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is the second year in a row that a severe winter storm has struck Athens. The Greek capital rarely receives heavy snowfall.

    In Pakistan, for the first time, a woman has taken a seat on the country's Supreme Court; 55-year-old Ayesha Malik was sworn in Monday in Islamabad. It is an historic move in an Islamic nation where men dominate the judicial system.

    Back in this country, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced that she will run for a 19th term in office. The San Francisco Democrat is 81 and is the first woman to serve as speaker. It is not clear if she would try to remain Democratic leader in the House if she is reelected.

    A second New York City policeman has died after being shot last Friday. He and his partner were attacked by a gunman during a domestic disturbance call. Just yesterday, the city's new mayor, Eric Adams, outlined plans for ending gun violence in New York.

    The U.S. Commerce Department warned today that the nation's shortage of semiconductor chips has reached alarming levels. It said companies are down to less than five days supply. The department's survey of producers suggested the shortage will last at least six more months.

    The SAT college entrance exam is going digital. The College Board administers the test. It announced today that it will shift away from paper and pencil by 2024. Backers of the SAT are trying to keep it relevant, as more colleges make standardized testing optional for admissions.

    And on Wall Street, worries about inflation fueled another volatile day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 66 points at the end, after dropping more than 800 earlier in the day. It closed at 34297. The Nasdaq fell 315 points. That's more than 2 percent. The S&P 500 shed 53.

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