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Pfizer seeks approval for COVID-19 vaccine

In our news wrap Friday, drug maker Pfizer announced plans to seek an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The UN refugee agency warned that fighting in Ethiopia could create 200,000 refugees in the coming months. Also, The Trump administration has issued new rules to cut drug costs for seniors.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Drugmaker Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. If the so-called EUA is approved, vaccinations could begin next month on a limited basis.

    In dueling TV interviews today, the Trump administration touted its vaccine plan, while president-elect Biden's team argued that it's not getting accurate numbers or information.

  • Gustave Perna:

    We have about 40 million doses of vaccine, give or take, exactly when the EUA comes out. And what we're going to do is, we're going to execute fair and equitable distribution based on the population of the jurisdictions, jurisdictions identified as the 50 states, eight territories, and six metropolitan cities.

  • Atul Gawande:

    There was a plan for 300 million doses to be available at the end of the year. What they're reporting now is 20 to 30 million doses available.

    Why? Where are the bottlenecks? What are the shortages? How are they addressing them, and what are the gaps that then the next administration needs to fill? That alone means delays that could cost lives.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The country is averaging more than 1,300 deaths a day from COVID, with a new record of nearly 188,000 new cases on Thursday alone.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is rejecting criticism after he ended some pandemic emergency lending at the Federal Reserve. In a rare rebuke, the Fed said Thursday evening that it needs every tool to shore up the economy. Mnuchin shot back today — quote — saying, "That's not their job." He also denied trying to limit president-elect Biden's economic options.

    The U.N. Refugee Agency warned today that fighting in Northern Ethiopia could create 200,000 refugees in the next six months. Ethiopia's military is battling rebel forces in the Tigray region, and hundreds of people have been killed. At least 32,000 refugees have already fled to Sudan.

    American Jonathan Pollard, who sold U.S. secrets to Israel in the 1980s, completed his parole today. The Justice Department opted not to continue restrictions on his movements, freeing him to go to Israel, which has long lobbied for his cause. He was released from a U.S. prison in 2015 after 30 years. Some of the material stolen by Pollard ended up in the Soviet Union, including information on U.S. informants.

    The Trump administration has issued new rules to cut drug costs for seniors as of January 1. Medicare would pay the same as the lowest price in other advanced countries. And drugmakers would pay rebates to Medicare enrollees, instead of to insurers. The industry is expected to fight the changes in court.

    And Wall Street — most of Wall Street retreated today amid worries about rising COVID infections. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 219 points to close at 29263. The Nasdaq rose 49 points, and the S&P 500 slid 24.

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