12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Experts react to J&J vaccine data

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–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is 66 percent effective, but has been 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization or death |  Health experts celebrate |  What happens next |  White House COVID-19 team holds news conference |  Dems move forward to pass COVID-19 relief package |  Tensions rise among Republicans |  How McConnell derailed Trump’s impeachment trial |  Lawmakers furious at Robinhood over GameStop |  Kraft launches pink candy-flavored mac and cheese

 

RELEASED THE MORNING

New vaccine data — Stepping up to the plate with a batting average of 0.660, welcome Johnson & Johnson!:

 

 

Johnson & Johnson announced this morning that its vaccine has proven to be 66 percent effective in preventing moderate or severe cases of the coronavirus. https://bit.ly/3iZddqV

WHAT TO KNOW:

A big advantage on dosing: It only requires one dose. The other two authorized vaccines require two, spaced-out doses. 

One problem — The South African variant lowered the efficacy: The vaccine, which has been 72 percent effective in the United States, dropped to 57 percent effective in South Africa where the new coronavirus variant is rampant.  

^ Yes, but (!): “The company emphasized that its vaccine is 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease and was 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization or death starting 28 days after vaccination. That is a crucial point, meaning that even if the vaccine is somewhat less effective in preventing people from getting sick at all, it still appears to protect well against people having to go to the hospital or dying.” https://bit.ly/3iZddqV

Another advantage for this vaccine — it can more easily reach rural areas: “It can stay viable in a refrigerator for three months, while the two authorized vaccines have to be kept frozen.” https://nyti.ms/3pqSiPY 

What’s next — here’s what we know about the timing: The vaccine will apply for emergency authorization from the FDA as soon as next week. If all goes well, it could be cleared by mid to late February.

Happy Friday! Next time we talk, it will be February! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook

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FOR CONTEXT — REACTIONS FROM THE EXPERTS:

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb is thrilled: “The J&J vaccine turns in a fantastic result. We now have 3 highly effective vaccines. This vaccine showed sustained (and increasing!) immune protection over time … This one shot vaccine was highly effective at preventing severe disease, even with new variants. The milieu of disease now is more complex; even in U.S. – trials done today are running into more mutated cases. Make no mistake: this is an important and wonderful development.” His Twitter feed has been helpful — it’s worth checkinghttps://bit.ly/3ovffQS

The nation’s leading infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci breaks it down: “Fauci urges people to look beyond the vaccine to vaccine efficacy comparisons. Points out J&J vaccine ‘is a single shot vaccine in which you start to see efficacy anywhere from 7-10 days.’ Easy to [store], inexpensive & able to be manufactured at large scale.” (Via CNN’s Jeremy Diamondhttps://bit.ly/39tXb5i Watch Fauci’s full assessmenthttps://bit.ly/3iVst8k

From senior infectious diseases writer for STAT News, Helen Branswell: “The J&J vaccine showed an 85% efficacy at protecting against severe #Covid19 — in multiple settings around the world, including in South Africa.  It was 100% effective against hospitalization & deaths. This is important.” Branswell has a thread on the development — it’s worth readinghttps://bit.ly/39rpa5I

From Mathai Mammen, the global head of Janssen Research & Development: “We’re a single shot … And now we’ve produced data that say that our vaccine is highly effective, 85% effective against severe COVID, 100% effective against hospitalization or death,” Mammen told ABC News. https://abcn.ws/3iWzuWt

ANOTHER VACCINE DOWN THE PIPELINE:

Via CBS News, “U.S. biotech firm Novavax said Thursday its two-shot COVID-19 vaccine showed an overall efficacy of 89.3% in a major Phase 3 clinical trial in Britain and remained highly effective against a variant first identified there. But the positive news was offset somewhat by other results that showed it offered less protection against a highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa.” https://cbsn.ws/3r3KOmp

Keep in mind — the Novavax vaccine works a little differently: “Unlike the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, which deliver the genetic instructions that make human cells create a key protein of the virus, the Novavax shot injects the proteins directly into the body to evoke an immune response.”

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 25,777,721 

U.S. death toll: 433,431 

Breakdown of the numbershttps://cnn.it/2UAgW3y

Context to today’s updated death toll, from The Los Angeles Times’s Sarah D. Wire: “That is roughly equal to the entire population of Oakland, CA dying since March” https://bit.ly/3j5jwcz

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 27.3 million shots have been given 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.26 million doses. 

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH

WHERE WE STAND — CASES ARE DROPPING, BUT VARIANTS ARE A BIT WORRISOME:

Via The Hill’s Reid Wilson, “The number of Americans testing positive for the coronavirus has dropped substantially from an early January zenith, easing the strain on hospitals across the nation that faced danger over the winter holidays.” https://bit.ly/3ow8PAM 

Yes, but: “New and more transmissible strains of the coronavirus are circulating more widely across the world, and public health experts caution that, even with the beginnings of mass vaccination programs, the public must be more vigilant than ever in protecting themselves and reducing the spread.”

IN CONGRESS

I just wouldn’t put all congressional Republicans in the same room for a long period of time right now, you know?:

Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage, “The Republican Party is riven by internal tensions, and moderate voices fear it is headed for disaster at the hands of the far right.” https://bit.ly/3t58ZTj

How so: “The centrists’ worry is that the party is branding itself as the party of insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists. This spells catastrophe for the GOP’s ability to appeal beyond a hardcore base, they say.” 

How this could play outhttps://bit.ly/3t58ZTj

Ready or not, here we come:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Democrats are moving quickly to lay the groundwork for passing additional coronavirus relief, with or without help from Republicans.” https://bit.ly/39ty3vu

Why Democrats are on the clock: “The push comes as Democrats are under pressure to go big amid new data showing the economy shrank 3.5 percent last year with stubbornly high levels of unemployment persisting into 2021.” 

Timing for passing the bill “Democrats can muscle through a budget resolution, the first step for a coronavirus relief bill, with a simple majority in the House and Senate. Under a plan crystallizing on Capitol Hill, they are hoping to pass it through both chambers next week.”

LATEST WITH IMPEACHMENT

Playing puppeteer behind the scenes:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Jan. 13 announced to colleagues that he was open to voting to convict President Trump for inciting an insurrection, but since then he has taken steps behind the scenes to throttle the Democratic impeachment effort.” https://bit.ly/3j1klTU 

On one hand: “McConnell was described by associates as ‘furious’ over the mob attack on the Capitol … it seems clear he is more than open to the party moving on from Trump, particularly after the former president was widely blamed for the GOP losing two runoff elections in Georgia that cost it the Senate majority.” 

But on the other hand: “McConnell likely wanted to avoid an intense fight within the caucus over a Trump conviction. And he’d seen the blowback in the House, where Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have come under furious criticism from Trump supporters.”

MEANWHILE — TRUMP ALLY MATT GAETZ HELD A RALLY IN LIZ CHENEY’S HOME STATE, CALLING FOR HER TO BE OUSTED:

Hundreds gathered at Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) rally in Wyoming, where he continuously attacked the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who voted in support of former President Trump’s impeachment. Detailshttps://bit.ly/2MBMMvc

HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE VOICING FRUSTRATIONS WITH MINORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CALIF.):

Via The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufkehttps://bit.ly/3pvS0HH

 

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LATEST WITH THE GAMESTOP DEBACLE

Lawmakers are furious with Robinhood:

Via The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo and Sylvan Lane, “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle erupted in anger Thursday after online stock trading platforms barred users from buying skyrocketing shares of companies targeted by a Reddit forum.” https://bit.ly/3cmaiHz

Wow, never thought I’d see Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the same side of an issue: “The decisions allowed hedge funds and other well-established investors to continue buying the stocks, spurring charges of hypocrisy across the political spectrum from such figures as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.).” 

THE SEC IS LOOKING INTO THIS:

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Friday that it will investigate why certain online trading platforms blocked users from purchasing highly volatile stocks and if illegal market manipulation spurred the recent surge in stocks such as GameStop.” https://bit.ly/2KYWCa7 

REDDIT TWEETED LAST NIGHT:

“can’t wait to explain this week to my therapist”  https://bit.ly/2NBQOnV

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3iWEnPc 

Interested? Here’s the Daybook listinghttps://bit.ly/3owAGAO

A 10-year-old cashed out his GameStop stock:

Via My San Antonio’s Madalyn Mendoza, 10-year-old Jaydyn Carr was given 10 GameStop shares as a gift in 2019 — and just cashed them out for around $3,200 on Wednesday.

From his mother: “My phone was going off, because I have GameStop on my watch list … I was trying to explain to him that this was unusual, I asked him ‘Do you want to stay or sell?’ ” 

The full storyhttps://bit.ly/3prhRQW

NOTABLE TWEETS:

This eagle clearly doesn’t respect borders — but actually, this is pretty incredible:

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3abw2U0 

Amazing:

This tweet has more than 1 million likes.

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3t6nsyk 

ON TAP:

The House and Senate are out until Monday. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C. 

9 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief. 

11 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received a briefing from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.  

12:30 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris have lunch together.

2:05 p.m. EST: President Biden visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

WHAT TO WATCH:

10 a.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen Psaki held a press briefing. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/36o2Tne

11 a.m. EST: The White House’s COVID-19 response team held a news conference. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/39tXJIj 

Noon: The 48th annual March for Life rally happens virtually. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3cmbgnl 

Happening now: The Hill is hosting a virtual event, “Reset 2021: A New American Start.” Details and livestreamhttps://bit.ly/2MCaHuM

Monday: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF…:

Today is National Corn Chip Day. And for proper weekend planning, tomorrow is National Croissant Day and Sunday is National Hot Chocolate Day!

This has to be a prank. IT HAS TO BE. Just look at the photo:

For Valentine’s Day, Kraft has launched magenta pink mac and cheese that tastes like candy. Details and the horrific photohttps://on.today.com/3tadnQO

And to get your weekend off to a good start, here’s a cat with the best contraption: https://bit.ly/3cnPIqf 

 

Tags 12:30 Report Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Anthony Fauci Antony Blinken biden administration Coronavirus Donald Trump gamestop Janet Yellen Jen Psaki johnson & johnson Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Matt Gaetz Mitch McConnell Reddit Robinhood Ted Cruz Vaccine

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