- On Saturday, several news outlets called the 2020 election, declaring former Vice President Joe Biden the victor.
- Former Presidents Obama and Bush both sent their well wishes to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Other global leaders reached out as well, saying they were ready to work with the new administration.
- People also celebrated across the country, throwing dance parties in the street, honking horns, and popping champagne on sidewalks.
- However, President Donald Trump has not conceded the election and is instead pushing false claims of voter fraud. He and his legal team are vowing to bring the matter to court but others in his circle are reportedly trying to figure out how to convince Trump that it really is over for him.
World Celebrates Biden’s Win
After it was announced Saturday that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and would become the 46th president of the United States, people all over the country and the globe celebrated the victory.
Former President Barack Obama congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on the win.
“In this election, under circumstances never experienced, Americans turned out in numbers never seen,” Obama said in a statement. “And once every vote is counted, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will have won a historic and decisive victory.”
Former President George W. Bush also extended his well wishes.
“Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Bush wrote.
“The fact that so many of our fellow citizens participated in this election is a positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength. No matter how you voted, your vote counted,” he added.
Across the country, people also celebrated by dancing, cheering, and popping champagne bottles in city streets. In New York City and Washington D.C., crowds broke out into song during festivities.
In Los Angeles, parades of honking cars took to the streets while people clapped and danced along the sidewalks. At one point, singer John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen were spotted in West Hollywood celebrating with the crowds.
Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA,” as well as YG and Nipsey Hussle’s “Fuck Donald Trump” re-entered the charts as people found them to be apt songs to play during these gatherings.
However, Americans were not the only ones celebrating. In London, people set off fireworks. In Paris, people began ringing church bells.
World leaders also sent their congratulations, as is often customary when a new U.S. President is elected. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said, “Welcome back America.”
Speeches From Biden and Harris
On Saturday night, Biden and Harris both spoke in Delaware to accept their win. Harris went first, embracing the electoral process and thanking the country in her remarks.
“Protecting our democracy takes struggle, it takes sacrifice, but there is joy in it and there is progress, because we, the people, have the power to build a better future,” Harris said. “When our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.”
Harris, who is Black and Indian, will be the first woman and woman of color in the role. She touched on what this groundbreaking moment meant for her, her family, and women across the country.
“I am thinking about [my mother] and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women who, throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all,” she said.
“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
During his speech, Biden echoed the ideas he had been sending throughout his campaign, and especially in the last week as the results of the election were a pending uncertainty. He promised to bring the country together and to lead for every American, regardless of how they voted.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States, and work with all my heart, with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you,” Biden said. “For that is what America, I believe, is about. It’s about people. And that’s what our administration will be all about.”
“Now this campaign is over, what is the will of people? What is our mandate?” Biden later asked. “I believe it’s this: American have called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time, the battle to control the virus, the battle to build prosperity, the battle to secure your family’s healthcare, the battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.”
“Folks, I’m a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.”
Trump Refuses to Concede
But confetti was not flying everywhere. President Donald Trump has spent this weekend sending tweets riddled with misinformation, alleging unfounded claims of voter fraud, and refusing to concede the election.
It has long been expected that should Trump lose, he would not go down without a fight. In fact, just one hour before the election was officially called for Biden, Trump tweeted that he himself was the winner, a false claim he has been making since election day.
He later bragged about how many “legal” votes he got, implying the votes Biden got were illegal, but providing no evidence.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump later said in a statement after the election for all intents and purposes, was over.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” he said. “The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.”
While Trump can try to make a court game out of this, experts do not believe it will change anything. ABC News spoke to sources within Trump’s White House circle who believe the lawsuits are “pointless and meritless.” Alberto Gonzales, who served as the U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush, told NPR that they will likely go nowhere.
“I think most experts and certainly all that I have heard that are experts in the election field believe that that would be sort of a fruitless effort,” he said. “But obviously, he’s entitled to do what he thinks is right.”
During a Saturday press briefing at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Pennsylvania (not the hotel) Trump’s legal team continued to spout unbacked claims of voter fraud. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, claimed that voting my mail is inherently fraudulent and that Trump is “not going to concede when at least 600,000 are in question.” Currently, ballots in several states remain uncounted, but their legitimacy is not in question.
Still, Trump thinks that these legal battles are the best course of action for him. According to Vanity Fair : “While Trump has apparently admitted to some people that he knows the electoral math has no chance of working out in his favor, he has ‘maintained that a prolonged court battle and corrosive rhetoric about election fraud would sow enough doubt to allow him to refuse to accept the results.”
Even so, those in his circle are allegedly trying to find a way to sit him down and tell him it’s over.
“The delicate matter of a loss — and a potential post-presidential life — was not discussed widely among his team and was not raised often with the President, who believed adamantly he would win,” CNN reported. “Now, people around Trump are working to identify who might be able to communicate to him the stark reality.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (Vanity Fair) (NPR)
Texas Doctor Says He Violated Abortion Law, Opening Matter Up for Litigation
Under the state’s new law, any citizen could sue the doctor, which would make the matter the first known test case of the restrictive policy.
Dr. Braid’s Op-Ed
A Texas doctor revealed in an op-ed published in The Washington Post Saturday that he performed an abortion in violation of the state’s law that bans the procedure after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant.
The law, which is the most restrictive in the country and does not have exceptions for rape and incest, also allows civilians to sue anyone who helps someone receive an abortion after six weeks.
In the op-ed, Dr. Alan Braid, who has been practicing as an OB/GYN in Texas for 45 years, said that just days after the law took effect, he gave an abortion to a woman who was still in her first trimester but already beyond the state’s new limit.
“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” he wrote. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”
Braid went on to say that he understands he is taking a personal risk but that he believes it is worth it.
“I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces,” he concluded. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
If someone does opt to sue Braid over this matter, he could potentially be the state’s first test case in playing out the legal process. However, it is unclear if anti-abortion groups will follow through, despite their threats to enforce the law.
A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, which set up a website to report people suspected of violating the ban, told reporters this weekend that it is looking into Braid’s claims but added, “It definitely seems like a legal stunt and we are looking into whether it is more than that.”
Even if abortion opponents hold off on Braid’s case, there are other legal challenges to the Texas law.
Shortly after the policy took effect, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit attempting to stop it. Last week, the department filed an emergency motion asking a federal judge in the state to temporarily block the ban while that legal battle plays out, with a hearing for that motion set for Oct. 1.
Regardless of what side the federal judge rules for, the other is all but ensured to sue, and that fight could take the question to the Supreme Court in a matter of months.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Texas Tribune) (The Wall Street Journal)
Pfizer Says Low Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe and Effective in Kids 5 to 11
Pfizer Says Kids’ Vaccine Works
Pfizer announced Monday morning that its joint COVID-19 vaccine with BioNTech is safe and effective in kids ages 5 to 11.
While Pfizer’s vaccine candidate for younger children is the same version the FDA has already approved for people 12 and older, the children’s dose is only one-third of the amount given to adults and teens. Still, Pfizer said the antibody response they’ve seen in kids has been comparable to the response seen in older participants.
Similarly, the company said side effects in children have been similar to those witnessed in adults.
Pfizer said it expects to finish submitting data, which still needs to be peer-reviewed and then published, to the FDA by the end of the month. From there, the agency will ensure that Pfizer’s findings are accurate and that the vaccine will be able to elicit a strong immune response in kids at its current one-third dosage.
That process could take weeks or even all of October, but it does open the possibility that the vaccine candidate could be approved around Halloween.
While experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have called Pfizer’s announcement largely predictable, they’ve also urged people to let the research run its course.
With cases among children skyrocketing in recent months, some parents have begun urging pediatricians to give their children the jab early. Those kinds of requests are likely to increase with Pfizer’s announcement; however, officials have warned parents about acting too quickly.
“No one should really be freelancing — they should wait for the appropriate approval and recommendations to decide how best to manage their own children’s circumstances,” Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said according to The Washington Post.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Axios)
Contradicting Studies Leave Biden’s COVID-19 Booster Plan Up in the Air
While some studies show that the effectiveness of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines decrease over time, other publications argue the decline is not substantial and a full-flung booster campaign is premature.
Booster Rollout in Flux
President Joe Biden’s plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots is facing serious hurdles just a week before it is set to roll out. Issues with the plan stem from growing divisions among the scientific community over the necessity of a third jab.
The timing of booster shots administration has been a point of contention for months, but the debate intensified in August when Biden announced that, pending regulatory approval, the government would start offering boosters on Sept. 20 to adults eight months after they received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The announcement was backed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others.
However, many scientists and other health experts both inside and outside of the government have continually criticized the plan. They have claimed the data supporting boosters was not compelling and argued that, while the FDA approved third doses for immunocompromised Americans, the push to give them to the general public was premature.
The plan also drew international backlash from those who argued the U.S. should not launch a booster campaign when billions of people around the world have not gotten their first dose yet. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) extended its request that wealthy countries hold off on giving boosters until at least the end of the year.
Those arguments appeared to be bolstered when federal health regulators said earlier this month that they needed more time to review Moderna’s application for booster shots, forcing the Biden Administration to delay offering third shots to those who received that vaccine.
Now, Pfizer recipients will be the only people who may be eligible for boosters by the initial deadline, though that depends on a forthcoming decision from an FDA expert advisory committee that is set to vote Friday on whether or not to recommend approval.
Debate Continues in Crucial Week
More contradictory information has been coming out in the days leading up to the highly anticipated decision.
On Monday, an international group of 18 scientists, including some at the FDA and the WHO, published a review in The Lancet arguing that there is no credible data to show the vaccines’ ability to prevent severe disease declined substantially over time, so boosters are not yet needed for the general, non-immunocompromised public.
The experts claimed that any advantage boosters may provide does not outweigh the benefit of giving the extra doses to all those who are unvaccinated worldwide.
On the other side, a study released Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who received a third shot of Pfizer in Israel were much less likely to develop severe COVID than those who just had the first two jabs.
The same day, both Pfizer and Moderna published data backing that up as well. Pfizer released an analysis that said data on boosters and the Delta variant from both Israel and the U.S. suggested “that vaccine protection against COVID-19 infection wanes approximately 6 to 8 months following the second dose.”
Moderna also published data, that has not yet been peer-reviewed, which also found its jab provided less immunity and protection against severe disease as time went on.
Further complicating matters was the fact that the FDA additionally released its report on Pfizer’s analysis of the need for a booster shortly after Pfizer’s publication. Normally, those findings would shine a light on the agency’s stance on the issue, but the regulator did not take a clear stand.
“Some observational studies have suggested declining efficacy of [Pfizer] over time […] while others have not,” the agency wrote. “Overall, data indicate that currently US-licensed or authorized COVID-19 vaccines still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death.”
It remains unclear what the FDA panel will determine when they meet Friday, or what a similar CDC expert panel that is expected to meet next week will decide regarding vaccination policies.
Notably, officials at the two agencies are not required to follow the recommendations of their expert panels, though they usually do.
Even if the FDA approves Pfizer’s application as it stands to give boosters to those 16 and older, people familiar with the matter said the CDC might recommend the third jabs only for people 65 and older or those who are especially at risk.
Regardless of what is decided, experts have said that it is absolutely essential for the agency to stand firm in its decision and clearly explain its reasoning to the public in order to combat further confusion and misinformation.
“F.D.A. does the best in situations when there are strongly held but conflicting views, when they’re forthcoming with the data and really explain decisions,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told The New York Times. “It’s important for the F.D.A. not to say, ‘Here’s our decision, mic drop. It’s much better for them to say, ‘Here’s how we looked at the data, here are the conclusions we made from the data, and here’s why we’re making the conclusions.’”