90% effectiveness on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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Pfizer’s early data has reported 90% effectiveness on their COVID-19 vaccine. Their stage three trial on more than 43 000 participants has been running since 27 July. It operates on a double-blind system; some participants receive the vaccine (delivered in two doses), and others receive a placebo. Neither the scientists nor the participant knows who receives which. Pfizer plans to run their trial until at least 164 participants have gotten the coronavirus. So far, 94 trial participants have been infected. In order to achieve 90% effectiveness, only 10% of the 94 participants infected have received the actual vaccine. So far results have been described as “encouraging”, but trials are in no way over. 9 other companies worldwide are currently in the late stages of vaccine trials. Canada has also made a deal to receive 20 million doses from Pfizer, as well as 134 million doses from other sources. [CNN][By Miranda Zhao]

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Joe Biden Wins 2020 US Election

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After a long, drawn-out election, Democratic candidate Joe Biden has won a convincing victory. As of 12 November, he has taken 290 Electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote (a record-breaking 77 million votes). The Democrats also won a majority in the House of Representatives, with 218 seats, while Republicans are set to control the Senate, having taken 50 of the 51 needed seats. President Donald Trump has refused to concede, and several lawsuits alleging voter fraud by the Trump campaign are making their way through the courts in battleground states. [THE GUARDIAN][By KEVIN WANG]

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New Anti-Smoking Law North of 53rd Parallel

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The North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly recently passed a new “tobacco prohibition” law, banning smoking in public places. North Korea, a country where 46% of the adult male population smokes regularly, has long struggled with what the World Health Population calls a “tobacco epidemic”. North Koreans however, are skeptical of the new law, pointing out that Kim Jong Un is a well-known chain smoker, and doubt that the new regulations will apply to him. The Supreme Leader has been seen smoking before diplomatic summits, while touring children’s hospitals, and when inspecting intercontinental ballistic missiles. [NYT][By KEVIN WANG]

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Alex Trebek Passed Away at 80 Years Old

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Alex Trebek, the long-time host of the game show Jeopardy!, passed away from pancreatic cancer on Sunday, 8 November 2020. This news comes over a year after Trebek announced his diagnosis through the show’s social media channels in March 2019. Trebek has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984 and holds the Guinness World Record for the most episodes of a game show hosted. He was born in Ontario and has become a beloved figure for many Canadians. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to his memory in a tweet stating “We have lost an icon.” [GLOBAL][By Jacqueline Huo]

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74 Migrants Drown Off the Coast of Libya

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A Europe-bound boat carrying over one hundred and twenty migrants, including women and children, capsized just off the coast of the Al-Khums port in Libya. According to a statement from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), forty-seven survivors have been rescued by the coast guard and local fishermen. So far, thirty-one bodies have been recovered and the search is ongoing. This shipwreck is one of at least eight that have occurred in the Central Mediterranean region this past month. Federico Soya, the Chief of Mission for the IOM in Libya points to the “inability of [countries] to take decisive action to redeploy much needed, dedicated Search and Rescue capacity” as the reason for the huge loss of life.[THE GLOBE AND MAIL][By Jacqueline Huo]

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1st Female GM of an MLB Team

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Kim Ng became the first female General Manager (GM) of a Major League Baseball (MLB) team when she was hired as the GM of the Miami Marlins. This makes her the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations in the major leagues and the second woman ever to become GM of a major professional men’s team in North America. Ng first started working in baseball as an intern for the Chicago White Sox over twenty years ago and has since worked with the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ng has also been involved in international baseball operations, working with other baseball leagues around the world. [CBC][By Jacqueline Huo]