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Kamala Harris receives first dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine in D.C. Tuesday morning.

Why it matters: Although the FDA has found the vaccine to be safe and effective, Harris wanted to get the shot live on television as a way to bolster public confidence in the vaccine.


  • Her husband, Doug Emhoff, also received the vaccination Tuesday.

The backdrop: President-elect JoeBiden was vaccinated live on TV on Dec. 21. His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, received her first dose that day too. Both will receive their second dose before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

  • The president-elect and vice president-elect join a growing list of elected officials who received the vaccine this month, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence were the first to receive the vaccine on Dec. 18.
  • President Trump has not yet received his vaccine, as he was treated with an experimental antibody cocktail during his COVID-19 hospitalization in October.

What they're saying: "That was easy! Thank you. I just barely felt it. I barely felt it," Harris said after receiving the shot.

  • "I look forward to getting the second vaccine. Literally this is about saving lives. I trust the scientists, and it is the scientists who created and approved the vaccine," she continued.
  • "So I urge everyone when it is your turn, get vaccinated. It’s about saving your life, the life of your family members and the life of your community."

The big picture: Harris, the first Black woman to be VP, received her coronavirus vaccine at a time when the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community has been laid bare.

  • Black Americans are more likely to be at risk of contracting and dying from the virus.
  • And the U.S.’s history of abusing Blacks with vaccines has contributed to a lack of trust in the coronavirus vaccination among some in the Black community.

Incoming White House plans extraordinary steps to protect Biden from COVID-19

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

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Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

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Biden's Treasury pick plays down debt, tax hikes during hearing

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.

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Trump gives farewell address: "We did what we came here to do"

President Trump will give a farewell video address on Tuesday, saying that his administration "did what we came here to do – and so much more."

Why it matters: Via Axios' Alayna Treene, the address is very different from the Trump we've seen in his final weeks as president — one who has been refusing to accept his loss, who peddled conspiracy theories that fueled the attack on the Capitol, and who is boycotting his successor's inauguration. 

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Europeans have high hopes for Joe Biden

Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration will be greeted with enthusiasm in Europe, with three new polls making clear that most Europeans can't wait to bid Donald Trump adieu.

The big picture: Europeans generally expect brighter days ahead under Biden, according to the polls, but his election has not fully assuaged doubts about U.S. democracy and global leadership.

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U.S. surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Trump's final full day in office

Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Over 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: It only took a little over a month for the U.S. to reach this mass casualty after 300,000 COVID deaths were reported last month. That's over 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

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Special report: How U.S. policy toward China transformed under Trump

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

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