Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
I am the FIRST
Moderna said Thursday that its coronavirus vaccine was 93% effective against COVID-19 through six months after receiving the second dose.
Why it matters: The number shows that efficacy "remains durable" through that time, and hardly wanes from the 94.5% efficacy Moderna reported last November. But the clinical trial, which started in July 2020, was conducted before the Delta variant became the common strain in the U.S.
- Pfizer said its vaccine showed 84% efficacy for any symptomatic disease after six months.
What they're saying: "We are pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine is showing durable efficacy of 93% through six months, but recognize that the Delta variant is a significant new threat so we must remain vigilant," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said.
Details: The company said that candidates who received a booster shot during a phase 2 trial produced "robust antibody responses" against the Delta and Gamma variants.
- “Given this intersection, we believe dose 3 booster will likely be necessary prior to the winter season,” Moderna wrote, per CNBC.
Bancel said that the company is working to create a "a single dose annual booster" that protects against the virus, the flu and the respiratory syncytial virus for adults.
Yes, but: The World Health Organization on Wednesday asked countries to hold off on offering booster shots through at least September in order to allow for poorer countries to have access to doses.
- In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration does not yet recommend getting a third vaccine dose.
What to watch: Moderna said it expects to finish its vaccine application for full approval from the FDA this month.
The U.S. women's soccer team won the bronze medal on Thursday after beating ninth-ranked Australia 4-3.
Why it matters: Thursday's victory marks the U.S. team's first bronze in Olympic history, handing the team a medal after it failed to earn one during the Rio Games in 2016.
- After Thursday's win, the U.S. women's squad has now won four Olympic gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
- Though not the result the reigning World Cup champions had wanted, they bounced back after a bumpy start to the Games.
- The U.S. team lost to Sweden 3-0 in the team's Olympic debut and then overwhelmed New Zealand 6-1.
- The U.S. women's soccer team faced Australia during the group stage of the Tokyo Olympics, where they eked out a 0-0 tie — just enough to earn them a spot in the quarterfinals.
- The U.S. then beat the Netherlands in a penalty kick shootout before losing to Canada 1-0 on Monday.
What's next: Though the U.S. women's soccer team's Olympic run is over, Canada plays Sweden in the gold medal match Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET.
A group of the Democratic Party's most influential women met for dinner at a home in the nation’s capital last month to game out how to defend Vice President Kamala Harris and her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, against a torrent of bad press.
Why it matters: It's telling that so early in the Biden-Harris administration, such powerful operatives felt compelled to try to right the vice president's ship.
Details: The host was Kiki McLean, a Democratic public affairs expert and former adviser to both Clintons.
- Her guests included Harris confidant Minyon Moore; two former DNC officials, Donna Brazile and Leah Daughtry; Biden adviser and leader of his outside group, Stephanie Cutter; former Hillary Clinton spokeswomen and Democratic strategists Adrienne Elrod and Karen Finney; and former Obama White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
- Nobody from the vice president's office was at the dinner, but Harris is attuned to her outside network of supporters. Harris' office declined to comment on the dinner.
Behind the scenes: These were old friends getting together for the first time since the pandemic began, and celebrating a Democratic president after the Trump years. But the dinner had an urgent purpose.
- Harris had been hit with a series of damaging press accounts, with leaks from administration officials questioning her political judgment and describing rampant dysfunction in her office.
- The operatives spent the dinner discussing how to fight back against negative perceptions, and how to help Harris boost her national media footing.
What they're saying: "The point of it was how can this group be supportive from the outside," said one person familiar with the dinner.
- "It was less about how do you sort out the infrastructure [of Harris' operation], and it was more how can this group contribute to make sure that not only is her team making the most of this moment — as the first woman of color in the White House — but how can we help from the outside?"
The women discussed how they could leverage Harris' record as a prosecutor, California attorney general and U.S. senator to blunt criticisms of her performance as vice president, including her answers to questions about the border crisis.
- Another source familiar with the dinner said attendees saw sexist overtones to the Harris coverage, and discussed how they could "make sure the press knows this."
- "Many of us lived through the Clinton campaign, and want to help curb some of the gendered dynamics in press coverage that impacted HRC," this source said. "It was like: 'We’ve seen this before.' It’s subtle. But when things aren't going well for a male politician, we ask very different questions, and they’re not held to account the way a woman leader is.”
Flashback: The stories about Harris had gotten so bad by early July that White House chief of staff Ron Klain and others forcefully defended Harris, and declared full confidence in her abilities in statements to Axios.
- Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond even charged that there was "a whisper campaign designed to sabotage" the vice president.
- As we wrote in that story, 2024 is the elephant in the room.
Day 13 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Team USA's men's basketball team beat Australia 97-78 on Thursday to advance to the gold medal game.
The big picture: Kevin Durant led the charge with 23 points to help the U.S. secure a final spot against either France or Slovenia on Saturday local time. Elsewhere, the U.S. added to its gold medals count, with shot putter Ryan Crouser and teenage canoeist Nevin Harrison both winning their events.
A federal judge sentencing a Michigan man in D.C. Wednesday over his role in the U.S. Capitol riot dismissed any notion that he's a political prisoner.
Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that she wasn't sentencing Karl Dresch, of Calumet, "because he is a supporter" of former President Trump, noting that "millions of people" had voted for him "and did not heed his call to descend on the nation's Capitol," per the Detroit News.
- "You called yourself and everyone else patriots, but that's not patriotism," Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to Dresch, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering the Capitol, according to CNN.
- "Patriotism is loyalty to country, loyalty to the Constitution, not loyalty to a head of state. That is the tyranny we rejected on July 4."
The big picture: The Obama-appointed Jackson is the latest federal judge to condemn claims that the riot was due to some form of patriotism — with judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents speaking out on the grave threat the deadly insurrection posed, the Washington Post notes.
- The Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, who sentenced Northern Virginia couple Joshua Bustle and Jessica Bustle to home confinement Wednesday said her "inaccurate" description of Capitol rioters as "patriots" led to him seriously consider jailing her, per WashPost.
- "Patriots are not the ones who attack the operations of Congress," he said, noting the fatalities during the insurrection. "That is revolution, not patriotism."
Of note: Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell last Thursday questioned whether it was appropriate for prosecutors to offer defendants misdemeanor plea deals in cases that saw insurrectionists "terrorizing members of Congress," CNN notes.
For the record: Jackson sentenced Dresch to six months in prison. With time served since he was incarcerated in January while awaiting trial, he is set to be released Wednesday or Thursday, per his attorney.
- He was fined $500 in restitution for participating in the insurrection.
- Joshua Bustle was sentenced to 30 of conditional home confinement, and Jessica Bustle to 60 days conditional home confinement.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Hogan and Howell.
Two massive California wildfires have triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of people and destroyed homes and businesses in the state's north overnight.
Details: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through the Greenville area of Plumas County Wednesday night, per AP. The rapidly spreading River Fire burned "multiple" homes as it tore through Placer and Nevada counties, KOVR notes. Mandatory evacuation orders were in effect for both fires.
GREENVILLE: If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!! Evacuate to the south to Quincy. If you remain, emergency responders may not be able to assist you.Posted by Plumas County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Threat level: Firefighters were facing the threat of extremely dry forests combined with Red Flag fire weather conditions overnight.
By the numbers: As of Wednesday evening, the River Fire had burned 1,400 acres and was 0% contained.
- The Dixie Fire had ravaged 278,227 acres and was 35% contained.
Context: Several, but not all, of the fires in northern California have been burning for some time.
- Illustrating the dangerous conditions in place, the River Fire exploded from a spark on Wednesday to well over 2,000 acres by dusk and growing quickly, threatening several small towns, and billowing smoke more than 30,000 feet into the sky.
Our thought bubble: The extremely dry conditions in northern California are the result of a severe drought, which is the worst the West has seen so far this century.
- Northern California as well as the neighboring states of Oregon and Washington have also experienced repetitive heat waves this summer that have dried out the forests even more, and shrunk lakes and reservoirs to record low levels.
- Human-caused climate change is driving an increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves and droughts, and is behind a trend toward larger wildfires in much of the West in recent years, studies show.
- Last year was California's worst wildfire season on record. So far, this season is ahead of last year's pace, and the climatological peak of the season doesn't begin for several more weeks.
Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
A group of landlords and real-estate companies issued a legal challenge on Wednesday night in a D.C. district court to the Biden administration's new national eviction moratorium.
Driving the news: The Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors' emergency motion argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's order Tuesday barring evictions for most of the U.S. through Oct. 3 exceeds the CDC's powers, according to a statement from the National Association of Realtors.
- The groups cited a June Supreme Court decision that declined to override the previous extension through July 31.
- The National Association of Realtors said in its statement that about half of all housing providers "are mom-and-pop operators" and without rental income, "they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties."
- If successful, the challenge could put millions of people at risk of falling behind on their rents or becoming homeless during the pandemic as the Delta variant rages across many parts of the U.S.
The big picture: The Biden administration allowed the previous eviction moratorium to expire, saying it didn't have the legal authority to extend the ban and urging Congress to act.
- But the administration changed course after pressure from Democrats — in particular progressives including Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who protested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Of note: The new order temporarily halts evictions in counties with higher COVID-19 cases and should cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, AP notes.
- The landlord and realtor groups argue in their filing that the CDC extended the moratorium in the "absence of executive legal authority," per the Washington Post.
Flashback: In the Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court's three liberal justices in leaving the CDC's earlier moratorium in place.
- Kavanaugh agreed that the CDC had exceeded its authority in enacting the moratorium, but said the extension would allow the government "additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds."
What they're saying: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden, who has a law degree, wouldn't have backed the action if he weren't comfortable with the legality of the matter, per AP.
- "This is a narrow, targeted moratorium that is different from the national moratorium. It’s not an extension of that," she said.
Alix Klineman and April Ross are guaranteed to earn at least an Olympic silver medal after defeating Germany 2-0 in the Tokyo Games on Thursday morning local time.
Of note: It's the latest chapter in an enduring partnership, driven by past failures and bound by future aspirations.
The big picture: When Klineman switched from indoor to beach volleyball in 2017, Ross had already won two Olympic medals on the sand. In 2018, the players teamed up, and they've been on a success streak ever since.
- After being left off Olympic rosters for indoor volleyball year after year, Klineman's tenacity matched with her partner's prowess led to the realization of her Olympic dreams.
- Ross, who has a silver and bronze medal, hopes Klineman will help her realize her own Olympic dream of winning the gold. Now. they're only one step away from realizing that dream.
- Prelim - Pool B
- Klineman and Ross beat China, 2-0, in their first match.
- Klineman and Ross defeated Spain, 2-0, in their second matchup.
- Klineman and Ross won their match against the Netherlands, 2-1.
- Klineman and Ross beat Cuba, 2-0, in the Round of 16 match.
- Klineman and Ross beat Germany, 2-0,in the Quarterfinals
- Semifinals - Klineman and Ross beat Switzerland, 2-0, in the semifinals. They are now guaranteed at least a silver.
When to watch:
- Medal matches
- Gold - Aug. 5 at 10:30 p.m. ET
- Klineman and Ross will play either Australia or Latvia
What they're saying:
- "I am just so thankful I chose [Klineman] as a partner when she was brand new," Ross told Fansided. "She was searching for a partner and now I feel like she's one of the best players in the world."
- "You know I love competing and I'm very determined and I feel like ultimately my will was stronger than anything else, so that's why I feel like I'm here," Klineman recently said, per E! News.
2012 London Games
- 🥈- Ross took home silver with Jennifer Kessy
2016 Rio Games
- 🥉- Ross won bronze with Kerri Walsh Jennings