News Briefs


Art By Molly Chapin


COVID-19 Vaccine

For months, the world has awaited a vaccine that could return some semblance of normalcy. As of right now, there are over 52 candidate vaccines from around the world in trial phases on humans. An additional 87 are  in pre-clinical evaluation on animals. China and Russia have approved six vaccines between them for limited distribution without waiting for the results of their Phase 3 trials. Although the United States has taken a more cautious approach, there are several candidates currently in Phase 3 that show promise. On November 9th, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine trials returned with over 90 percent effectiveness. Early on the morning of November 16th, Moderna followed suit, saying that results from their preliminary analysis indicate that their vaccine is roughly 94.5 percent effective. Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted a request to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization, which could allow the early distribution of vaccines to high-risk demographics and essential workers as soon as the end of December. One contributing factor to keep in mind is the conditions required to safely store each vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech’s shot will need to be kept at a temperature of -94 degrees when in transport, whereas Moderna’s can be kept for up to 30 days in a regular fridge, or up to six months in a medical freezer. Logistically, Moderna’s vaccine will be much easier to transport, but the number of doses they will be able to produce by the end of next year is considerably less compared to their competitor. Pfizer has projected that they will be able to produce up to 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021 to be distributed globally, while Moderna has aimed to produce 500 million by December of next year.


United States Supreme Court


Since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation on October 27th, the Supreme Court is now led by a 6-3 conservative majority, making it the most conservative bench in 70 years. Justice Barrett is President Trump’s third Supreme Court pick, following his controversial appointments of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in 2018 and Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Prior to the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg earlier this year, Justice John Roberts held the vital “swing justice” role, which gave him the power to cast the deciding vote in close cases split between the liberal and conservative-leaning justices. With the new majority, two right-leaning justices will need to vote alongside the liberal justices for any left-influenced decisions to be made in new cases. Notable cases under recent deliberation of the Supreme Court include Google LLC vs. Oracle America Inc., Trump vs. Sierra Club and Facebook vs. Duguid.

Flying Car Hub

In a statement made on November 11th, the city of Orlando and a German aviation company, Lilium, announced that they would be building the United States’ first ever flying car hub. With its completion projected for 2025, this hub would serve as home to expensive, electric flying taxis. Developers and Orlando officials have made the point that this service would be a clean, timely, energy-efficient alternative to traveling on Florida’s highly trafficked highways. Despite the fact that the aircraft are only in their developmental stage, the Orlando City Council preemptively approved over $800,000 worth of tax rebates to the project developers. It is expected that this project would make way for over 140 well-paying jobs in Orlando, where this is only the start of the flying car takeover in the United States.