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A second vaccine offers hope as places like Southern California run out of ICU beds

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congressional leaders are "on the 1-yard line" in their coronavirus relief deal negotiations.
Image: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine won emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration Thursday, while Pfizer's vaccine has already begun shipping around the country. Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

As a second Covid-19 vaccine gains approval, advisers to President-elect Joe Biden are warning that the timeline for widespread distribution of the life-saving drugs being touted by the Trump administration may be way off.

Here's what we're watching this Friday morning.

A second vaccine is coming, but the timeline for distribution may be overly optimistic

An independent panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration overwhelmingly recommended that the agency authorize Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Thursday, bringing the United States one step closer to adding a second vaccine to its toolkit in fighting the pandemic.

A second vaccine can't come soon enough as the pandemic continues to surge across the country.

The U.S. set another record for the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on Thursday with 243,645 new infections and 3,288 deaths, according to NBC News' count.

Southern California — home to some 23 million people — is now reporting that it has no open ICU beds.

While millions of Americans anxiously await the arrival of the vaccines, doctors advising President-elect Joe Biden are raising concerns that the timeline for widespread distribution may be longer than anticipated.

Getting the vaccine to every American who wants it could take six months or longer, Dr. David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner who has been advising Biden, said in an interview Wednesday on MSNBC.

It might not be until late summer or early fall before the vaccine begins to be widely available to the public, said another physician close to the transition, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke to NBC News on background.

Meantime, Congressional leaders are said to be putting the "finishing touches" on a Covid relief deal as a government funding deadline looms.

The $900 billion package will include a new round of stimulus checks, likely to be about $600 for every adult who qualifies, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday that a deal between the two parties "appears to be close at hand" and that negotiators were "on the 1-yard line."

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.

Suspected Russian hacking campaign has been ongoing since March, Microsoft says

The suspected Russian hacking campaign that has torn through the U.S. government zeroed in on more than 40 organizations, Microsoft’s president said Thursday.

The campaign, which U.S. officials believe is the work of Russian intelligence, began at least as early as March, though it was discovered only last week, and has broken into multiple federal agencies.

Microsoft’s statement is the first to provide a detailed estimate of how widespread the hack is. While the company doesn’t have total visibility into the hacking campaign, it has significant insight thanks to governments and corporations’ use of Windows and its antivirus software, Defender.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin denied any involvement in any U.S. hacking on Thursday. So far, President Donald Trump has remained silent on the suspected Russian cyberattack.

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THINK about it

White House lawyers are trying to save Trump from himself as he heads out the door, attorney Teri Kanefield writes in an opinion piece.


Is it safe to ski or ice skate this winter? Experts weigh in.

Listen Up

MSNBC anchor and NBC News Senior Business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle opens up about what it was like for her and her family to test positive for COVID-19 in the latest Modern Ruhles podcast.

She speaks with the Dean of Brown University School of Publish Health, Dr. Ashish Jha, about the failure to implement organized testing and tracing, and the burden it places on American families.


For all-weather outdoor runners, it's a challenge to find the perfect winter running tights. Here are our top picks.

Quote of the day

"I'm not sure that I'm aware of any family in America that's more evil than yours."

Rep. Jim Cooper, D- Tenn., said while Congress grilled members of the Sackler family who founded Purdue Pharma on their role in the opioid crisis.

One fun thing

In a quest to find her birth family, one woman made a "life-altering" discovery: She's a princess.

Sarah Culberson's search for her birth family culminated in a call from her uncle telling her she is related to African royalty, a ruling Mende tribe in Bumpe, Sierra Leone.

But her story isn’t exactly a fairy tale. Being royalty from a country that had been torn apart for over a decade by a brutal civil war didn't mean tiaras and ball gowns.

Instead, she says, she inherited an immense responsibility — restoring buildings, promoting safety, and offering hope to people living in the war-torn land.

"My only guidance of what a princess was was what I saw in movies," Culberson says. “[But] it’s really about responsibility."

Discovering her heritage "was such a life-altering experience," says Culberson. "It was shocking, amazing, overwhelming, exciting. It was beautiful, glorious and uplifting!"
Discovering her heritage "was such a life-altering experience," says Culberson. "It was shocking, amazing, overwhelming, exciting. It was beautiful, glorious and uplifting!" Monika Sedziute

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Thanks, Petra