NEWS OF THE WEEK 15/11/20
The biggest news of the week was the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The pharmaceutical brand Pfizer announced that early testing of the vaccine was proving to be 90% effective. If found to be safe, the vaccine could be distributed to the public by early December. The inoculation requires two doses, administered 3 weeks apart. There will be a priority list of people that will be vaccinated first e.g. the elderly, NHS staff and front line workers.
While the news of a potential vaccine seems to be a light at the end of a very long tunnel, it is currently unclear just how many people will need to be vaccinated in order to be effective. There are also challenges around storing the vaccine, as it needs to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius.
We will know more by the third week of November as to whether the vaccine has passed its final regulatory tests.
DOMINIC CUMMINGS RESIGNS
Perhaps best known for his controversial detour to Barnard Castle in the first lockdown, Boris Johnsons’ Chief adivsor Dominic Cummings resigned on Thursday following internal battles over his position. He was accompanied in his departure by Lee Cain, the director of communications for Downing Street. Cummings and Cain have been the centre of speculation for months, with accusations of composing false media briefings being made against them. It is widely known that Cummings had a difficult relationship with Conservative MPs- a rhetoric that has also caused Johnson to have a disjointed relationship with his party members. It appears that for a long time, Johnson had allowed this disharmony within Parliament, but it now seems his tolerance has come to an end. With the removal of Cummings and Cain, it is hoped that Johnson can now focus on building a better relationship with his party, form a stronger strategy for tackling the Coronavirus pandemic and create a clearer exit plan for Britain out of the EU.
Last week, it was clear that Biden had won the US Presidential Election and was on track to enter the White House in 2021. It’s taken a long time, but the votes have finally all been counted and Biden has been confirmed as the new President-elect. The Democrats managed to flip both Arizona and Georgia. Georgia has not been a Democratic state since 1992, while Arizona has only voted Democrat twice since 1952! North Carolina was called for Trump, as expected.
The votes have all now been counted, meaning that (pending legal battles), Biden has won the election with 306 votes to Trump’s 232. This is particularly poignant as Trump won with 306 votes against Clinton in 2016.
The Democrats have control of the House of Representatives, but the race to see who will control the Senate will not be decided until 5.January 2021. This is because the Republican Senator for Georgia, David Perdue, did not gain the necessary 50% of votes needed in order to claim the Senate. This means he will need to run again in January against his Democrat opponent Jon Ossoff. In addition to this second election, Georgia is also holding another election to decide who will be replacing Senator Jonny Isakon, who is retiring. The candidates are Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler.
RECORD GROWTH OF THE ECONOMY
The GDP grew by 15.5% from July to September, which a record level of growth. This is due to the relaxed measures put in place over the summer, with people being encouraged to safely enjoy the things they’d been missing out on (remember Eat Out to Help Out?). However, we are still 8.2% below where we were before Coronavirus hit in February.
Several experts are warning that the final quarter of 2020 is unlikely to grow the economy any further, with the current lockdown measures in place, which could lead to mass unemployment in 2021.
THE GOOD NEWS
It was announced this week that we will get an extra bank holiday in 2022! In order to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee (that’s 70 years on the throne!), the late May bank holiday will be moved to June and combined with an extra day off to create a 4-day weekend.
After 2020, this is well-deserved by everyone.