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Science gets political as Trump touts experimental coronavirus drugs

President Trump has called an experimental coronavirus therapy he received "a gift from Heaven" and promised to make it widely available — igniting yet another round of concern about politics encroaching on science.

What they're saying: "We have an emergency use authorization that I want to get signed immediately," Trump said in a video Thursday.


The big picture: "The problem is every therapy for coronavirus has become politicized — every single therapy, and that's the last thing you want in a pandemic, so this is just next in line," Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Washington Post.

Trump is talking about a cocktail of laboratory-made antibodies made by Regeneron that he received as part of a host of medications over the past week.

  • Regeneron and Eli Lilly, which is developing a similar therapy, both applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA this week.
  • Regeneron has said that it would have about 300,000 doses of the drug available in the next few months, and Eli Lilly will have about 1 million doses ready by the end of the year, per the Post.
  • That means that even if the drugs are quickly authorized, the number of patients who can receive them will be limited.

Between the lines: The drugs, while promising, are still undergoing clinical trials, and it's unclear whether the Regeneron therapy was responsible for Trump's apparent recovery.

What to watch: "The science of antibody drugs could ... devolve into another political dispute."

  • "But the FDA should and will weigh the benefits of the therapy against the risks and judge the application on the scientific merits, hopefully without political interference," former FDA commissioners Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday.

Merrick Garland: Domestic terrorism is "still with us" and remains critical threat

In his first major speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned the nation Monday to remain vigilant against the rising threat of domestic extremism.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism poses an "elevated threat" to the nation this year, according to U.S. intelligence. Garland has already pledged to crack down on violence linked to white supremacists and right-wing militia groups.

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"Nine minutes and 29 seconds": Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

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European soccer goes to war over wealthy clubs' plans for exclusive "Super League"

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

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81% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive earnings surprise for Q1

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

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NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

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All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, meeting Biden's April 19 deadline

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

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Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

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Russian authorities say jailed opposition leader Navalny has been transferred to hospital

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.

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