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Quest for COVID-19 vaccine enters new phase, MLB season already in question, and Barr to testify

U.S. vaccines are "remarkably safe," thanks to ongoing FDA monitoring, a new study found.
A volunteer participates in an experimental vaccine for COVID-19 study developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna on Monday. Hans Pennink / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The search for a COVID-19 vaccine enters a new chapter as a New York EMS worker reflects on the pandemic's horrors amid concerns over a second wave.

Here's what we're looking at this Tuesday morning.

A leading drug just hit a key benchmark in the quest for a coronavirus vaccine

The quest for a COVID-19 vaccine reached an important juncture Monday as Moderna Therapeutics began the first phase 3 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S.

Phase 3 is the final stage for a vaccine, so it is meant to answer the big question: Does it work to prevent COVID-19?

"This is the main event, if you will, in drug development," said Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, a biotech company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Moderna has partnered with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for its vaccine research.

As many as 30,000 volunteers will be recruited at nearly 100 research sites across the country in Moderna's phase 3 trial. Half of the participants will receive the vaccine, and the other half will receive a placebo.

A new study released Monday reviewing 20 years of data found that U.S. vaccines are remarkably safe, thanks in large part to ongoing surveillance after they hit the market by the the Food and Drug Administration.

"Most studies like this show a complicated picture, but here, we saw almost no complexity at all," said the study's lead author, Dr. Daniel Shepshelovich. "Vaccines are safe."

Here are some other COVID-19 developments:

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'End of life as we know it': EMS captain on pandemic's horrors amid concerns of second wave

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, emergency medical services Capt. AJ Briones' teams were fielding nearly 700 calls a day.

Before the pandemic swept through, Briones said their typical call volume was somewhere around 300 to 400 calls a day, but during the peak, calls doubled at times.

“We did a month's worth of cardiac arrests in three days, three months worth of intubations in three days," Briones said. "It was really a hard time for anybody. I don't care how seasoned you were."

Now with cases down in the state, his EMS teams can sometimes catch their breath for a moment. But with cases rising rapidly around the country, Briones reflected on the virus' devastating toll, how far New York has come and his concerns about a possible second wave.

'If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere.'

Video: As federal officers prepare to deploy to cities across the United States, NBC News looks at how the demonstrations in downtown Portland grew from a dwindling protest to a nationwide debate about federal authority.

'We are the legacy': John Lewis lives on in the generations of young activists he empowered

For all the achievements of his 67 years of service, Rep. John Lewis' commitment to inspiring the next generation of leaders and activists may be his most significant and lasting contribution.

As an activist fighting for racial equality, Lewis, at 23, was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Two years later, he put his body on the line for voting rights on "Bloody Sunday" on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, thinking he might be killed at 25.

Even before his work on the national stage, Lewis was a young preacher in his teens, and he led other students in anti-segregation work.

But as he grew into an elder statesman of the civil rights movement, Lewis actively looked to young people to continue his work.

"We are the legacy of Congressman Lewis," said Rachelle O'Neil, who joined Lewis' staff as a constituent services representative when she was 32 and worked with him for 18 years. "There are hundreds of us around the country who have been impacted by him."

From Selma to the Capitol: See photos of John Lewis' final journey.

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THINK about it

Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee this morning. It is a big opportunity for Democrats to show what a disaster Barr's tenure has been for American democracy, Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, writes in an opinion piece.


Dating during coronavirus? Some experts say pandemic dating may "lead to more stable relationships."

Quote of the day

"This research study is something that I can do personally to benefit not only my family and my friends, but also humanity."

Jon Penman, a volunteer participating in Moderna's final phase of its COVID-19 vaccine study.

One fun thing, sort of...

How much do you agree/disagree with your fellow Americans?

Take this interactive THINK quiz to see how much you disagree with your compatriots about the idea of suspending Congress, ignoring the Electoral College and more.

Image: A group of raised hands in front of a United States map.
How do your feelings about authoritarianism stack up against other Americans?Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty

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Thanks, Petra