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Mica Soellner

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Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed’s vaccine efforts, said the first people in the United States could get vaccinated for COVID-19 next month.

Slaoui said the administration’s goal is to distribute an approved vaccine within 24 hours of its approval by the Food and Drug Administration. A committee is expected to meet in December to approve Pfizer’s emergency authorization request for its vaccine candidate, found to be 95% effective in preventing the coronavirus.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on day two after the approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” Slaoui told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Hopefully, the first people to be immunized across the United States, across all states in all of the areas where the state departments will have told us where to deliver the vaccines.”

Slaoui added that in order for true herd immunity among the population to take place, roughly 70% of people would need to be immunized, which means more trust in the vaccine process must be present.

“I really hope and look forward to seeing that the level of negative perception of the vaccine decreases and people’s acceptance increase,” Slaoui said. “That is going to be critical to help us. Most people need to be immunized before we can go back to a normal life.”

The U.S. has now had over 12 million cases of the coronavirus and over 255,000 deaths.

Author: Mica Soellner

Source: Washington Examiner: First of US public could get COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December, top official says

Presumptive President-elect Joe Biden named new members to his transition team on Tuesday, pulling from tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

The move, sure to irk conservatives who believe Big Tech is biased against right-leaning ideas, comes as the Trump administration has not yet recognized a winner in the 2020 election and therefore has not unlocked resources for a Biden transition.

The transition team additions were reported by Reuters, which noted the additions could be indicative of who Biden might choose to fill administration roles.

Tom Sullivan, an executive on Amazon’s public policy team, was chosen to be part of Biden’s review team overseeing the State Department. Mark Schwartz, also from Amazon, will be helping with decisions being made for the Office of Management and Budget. Schwartz comes from Amazon’s cloud computing arm and is a former Obama administration official.

Nicole Isaac, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn’s senior director for North America policy, will join the team overseeing the Treasury Department. Another Obama era alumna, Nicole Wong, who now is a general counsel for Google, will be involved in the review team for the National Security Council.

Other executives from smaller tech companies such as AirBnB, Uber, and Lyft were also appointed to agency review groups.

The Biden transition team also added two tech critics who have pushed for more antitrust scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s business practices.

One is Gene Kimmelman, a senior adviser with D.C.-based Public Knowledge, which focuses on antitrust policy, will help oversee the Justice Department. The other is Sarah Miller from the American Economic Liberties Project, who will weigh in on decisions being made at the Treasury Department.

Republicans have long been suspicious of the power wielded by Silicon Valley, especially on issues related to free speech and what is deemed political censorship of conservative voices and viewpoints. For instance, on the day before the election, President Trump claimed “it’s a fix” in alleging that Big Tech was boosting unflattering content about him while suppressing reporting that would damage Biden.

In a congressional hearing last month led by Senate Republicans, the heads of Google, Twitter, and Facebook defended their stance to protect free speech.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai denied the accusation that such a thing as conservative censorship exists in his company. “We recognize people come to our services with [a] broad spectrum of perspectives, we approach our work without political bias, full stop,” Pichai testified.

Author: Mica Soellner

Source: Washington Examiner: Biden transition team adds several tech executives

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