5.19.2020

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Need to Know
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Early Vaccine Success
Volunteers in an experimental Phase 1 vaccine study have developed antibodies similar to those seen in recovered COVID-19 patients, researchers announced yesterday. Though early, the news represents one of the biggest successes reported so far in the race for a vaccine. Antibodies are produced by the immune system and act to neutralize invading pathogens, like a virus (see 101). Vaccines typically contain weakened or inactive forms of a virus that prompt the body's immune system to make the same antibodies that would neutralize a fully enabled virus.

A Phase 2 trial of the vaccine has already been approved and the drug's maker, Moderna, is pushing for a Phase 3 trial to begin in July. Here's an explanation of the different clinical phases. 

Moderna's stock rose 20% on the news. The rest of the stock market followed suit, also buoyed by progress in reopening economies around the country. The Dow rose 3.9%, followed by the S&P 500 (3.2%) and the Nasdaq (2.4%). 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed reopening criteria yesterday, a move that will allow many of the state's less affected counties to begin allowing dine-in restaurants and other services. On the East Coast, a number of states will reopen public beaches with social distancing requirements in place in time for Memorial Day. Overseas, European leaders agreed on a $543B fund to help countries hardest hit by the virus.  

Finally, President Trump said yesterday he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure. Recent studies have shown the antimalarial treatment to have no effect in treating COVID-19. The president has also tested negative for the disease.

The US has reported 1.49 million total cases, with 89,564 deaths, as of this morning. Deaths rose 4% since Friday morning; see the three-day rolling average here.

Have more questions? Check out our expert-curated coronavirus resource page.
World Health Assembly Meets
The World Health Organization convened its annual assembly yesterday, held virtually for the first time in its seven-decade history. The meeting is the forum for the organization to engage its 194 member countries as it coordinates global health policies. 

The WHO has received ongoing criticism for its response during the early stages of the pandemic, with accusations it placated China in downplaying the severity of the initial outbreak. US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar continued this drumbeat, claiming the WHO's response "cost many lives."

Separately, more than 100 countries backed Australia's call for an inquiry into the origins of the virus, and its route from animals to humans. China has previously dismissed the idea, framing it as an attempt to pin blame on the country for the pandemic. However, President Xi Jinping appeared to support the proposal yesterday, while also pledging $2B to aid global relief efforts. 
Pensacola Shooting Linked to al-Qaeda
The gunman who opened fire at a Pensacola, Florida, naval base in December had been in direct contact with overseas al-Qaeda operatives, US officials revealed yesterday. New information recovered after the FBI unlocked the shooter's encrypted iPhone showed he had been radicalized over a period of at least five years and discussed tactics with his contacts in the days leading up to the shooting. The attack, which killed three and injured eight, had been probed as an act of terrorism. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—known for carrying out attacks on international targets (see 101)—initially claimed credit, but officials were unsure of the degree of coordination.

The shooter was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force staying at Naval Air Station Pensacola, which often hosts international trainees. Read an analysis of the impact on ties between the two countries here.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Ken Osmond, actor best known for role of Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver,” dies at 76 (More) | Michel Piccoli, French actor who appeared in more than 230 films, dies at 94 (More)
> Governors from New York, California, and Texas call on professional sports teams to resume without fans (More) | Soccer’s English Premier League to open up limited practices starting today with aim to begin matches by mid-June (More)
> Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive who launched Disney Plus, tapped as social media giant TikTok's new CEO (More)
Science & Technology
> Scientists repurpose CRISPR gene-editing tools to identify viruses and other causes of unknown infections (More)
> Google says its DeepMind AI can predict the progression of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness, better than experts (More) | ... though previous applications failed to translate to real-world tests (More)
> Long-lasting injection shows improved protection against HIV infections; in global study, new drug showed three times fewer infections than the current leading treatment, which requires a daily pill regimen (More)
Business & Markets
> Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobil, Apple, and CVS top 66th annual Fortune 500 list of largest American companies by revenue (More) | Fortune 500 contains 37 female CEOs; low figure still represents an all-time high (More)
> Apple starts reopening stores, requiring facemasks and other safeguards; 80% of the company's 510 stores worldwide are currently closed (More)
> Uber to eliminate 23% of workforce as it focuses on ridesharing and food delivery units (More) | Alibaba founder and former CEO Jack Ma to step down from SoftBank board as he shifts role to philanthropy (More)

From our partners: Think of Stacked Marketer as 1440 for marketing. More than 13,000 marketers trust this 100% free newsletter for the latest in advertising hacks, insights, and breaking news. All in a five-minute daily read#Ad
Politics & World Affairs
> Attorney General William Barr says a review of the origins of the 2016 Russian election interference probe will not include investigations of Barack Obama or Joe Biden (More) | Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) becomes acting chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee (More)
> Video of 2017 incident involving slain Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery surfaces showing police attempting to tase Arbery in city park; family says footage shows police harassment (More) | Separately, attorney says original video that captures Arbery being shot is much longer, shows he was pursued by two men for four minutes (More)
> Hong Kong legislators scuffle as pro-Beijing legislators take control of powerful committee chair (More) | Rwanda's most wanted genocide fugitive, Félicien Kabuga, arrested outside Paris, ending 26-year manhunt (More)
In-Depth
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Two Coasts. One Virus.
ProPublica | Joe Sexton, Joaquin Sapien. New York City and San Francisco are the country's two densest cities. So why has the former racked up just under 20,000 coronavirus deaths, while the latter has seen less than 100? (Read)
Is Ronan Farrow Too Good to be True?
NYT | Ben Smith. Having broken a number of high-profile stories, most notably catalyzing the downfall of serial Hollywood sex abuser Harvey Weinstein, Ronan Farrow has become the rare celebrity-journalist. But in his pursuit to pull the cover off powerful figures, he may occasionally sidestep some fundamental tenets of journalism. (Read, $$)
 
 
Etcetera
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US adults report less worry, more happiness
Starting today, the famous Chelsea Flower Show will be available online.
The 5G coronavirus conspiracy has spread to the US.

From our partners: Overwhelmed by the news but looking for health and wellness ideas? This free newsletter of fun-to-read, curated content serves up inspiring new ideas to improve your health and conquer the week. #Ad
First grader sets up joke-telling booth, becomes internet celebrity.
New NASA photos capture a hazy Jupiter.
Watch one of the hardest sudoku puzzles ever solved.
This national park paradise was once an isolated quarantine zone. ($$, Nat Geo) 
... and how to social distance, national park style.
Clickbait: Man breaks into dinosaur exhibit, takes selfies (w/video). 
Historybook: Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, is beheaded (1536); TE Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, dies (1935); André the Giant born (1946); RIP former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994); Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle (2018).
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- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
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