- Biden officially took office as President of the United States
- China imposed sanctions on 28 US citizens, including Pompeo
- Pfizer vaccine tested against “British” strain of coronavirus
Biden Officially Took Office as President of the United States
US President-elect Joe Biden took the oath of office at the inauguration ceremony, officially taking office as head of state, UNN reports.
Set against a backdrop of a locked-down Washington and a socially distanced ceremony, Biden made a plea for national unity in his inaugural address as political, economic and health care crises grip the nation.
“I, Joseph Biden, solemnly vow that I will serve as the President of the United States and will fully support, protect and defend the US Constitution,” Biden said.
“I asked every American to join me in this cause to fight the foes we face — anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness — with unity,” President Biden added.
New US President Joe Biden arrived at the White House for the first time as head of state, where he was greeted by a group of the military. First Lady Jill Biden accompanied the politics.
Before visiting the presidential residence, Biden was at Arlington National Cemetery, where, along with US Vice President Kamala Harris, he participated in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and he also conducted a military survey at the Capitol.
The first members of Biden’s Cabinet are slated to be sworn in over the next few days, as well, including Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary. Biden’s Democratic Party, likewise, will assume a bare majority in the Senate after three new lawmakers – Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California – also take their oaths of office.
US Senate voted to confirm Avril Haines as director of National Intelligence hours after President Joe Biden officially took office on Wednesday. The Senate confirmed Haines by a vote of 84-10, making her the first member of Biden’s cabinet to be installed by the chamber. Haines, 51, will become the first woman in history to lead the intelligence community.
Top officials of the European Union rejoiced on Wednesday over the inauguration of the new administration of the United States, expressing their readiness to mend the broken partnership and laying out expectations for renewed transatlantic cooperation.
“Today is a very special day. I am ready to present to President Joe Biden our proposals for a new transatlantic agenda,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter.
China Imposed Sanctions on 28 US Citizens, including Pompeo
China imposed sanctions against 28 US citizens due to interference in the country’s internal affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC reports.
“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” the ministry said.
It is noted that the country’s government is determined to defend its national sovereignty, security, and development interests.
China has decided to sanction 28 persons who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues. They include Michael R. Pompeo, Peter K. Navarro, Robert C. O’Brien, David R. Stilwell, Matthew Pottinger, Alex M. Azar II, Keith J. Krach, and Kelly D. K. Craft of the Trump administration as well as John R. Bolton and Stephen K. Bannon.
“China’s sanctions against these US citizens were a response to their erroneous actions, which are undermining the sovereignty of China and interfering in the internal affairs of the PRC. This imposition of sanctions is necessary and demonstrates our determination to uphold our national interests,” the diplomat said.
“These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China,” the spokesperson said.
In fact, Bolton appeared to celebrate the sanction against him, calling it “great news” in a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon.
“I accept this prestigious recognition of my unrelenting efforts to defend American freedom,” he wrote.
Pfizer Vaccine Tested Against “British” Strain of Coronavirus
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is likely to protect against a more contagious variant of the coronavirus found in the UK that has spread around the world, according to laboratory results, the companies said Wednesday, January 20, UNN reports.
The strain, known as B.1.1.7, has caused alarm among experts because of its increased ability to spread and supercharge virus outbreaks.
The company said in a release that “today Pfizer and BioNTech announced the results of an in vitro study that provides additional data on the ability of sera vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine BNT162b2 to neutralize the British strain of SARS-CoV-2, also known as line B .1.1.7 or VOC 202012/01 “. The results were published on the bioRxiv preprint portal and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.
“Sera from participants in previously described studies in Germany in Phase 1/2 suppressed the pseudovirus containing the SARS-CoV-2 strain from the UK, in a neutralization range that is considered biologically equivalent to the unmutated spike type of Wuhan SARS-CoV-2,” the release said.
The companies say the results “make it likely that Covid-19, caused by the UK variant of the virus, can also be prevented by immunizing with BNT162b2 (the name of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine).”
Pfizer and BioNTech indicate that they are “encouraged by these early in vitro results.” And they add that additional data is needed to monitor the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in preventing the virus caused by new strains.
They also point out that there is currently no efficacy reduction threshold for vaccines against Covid-19 that would indicate the need to change the vaccine, adding that if in the future this is required, then the flexible technology that BioNTech applies “is quite suitable for ensuring such adjustment. “
According to WHO, a new strain of coronavirus, first identified in the UK, has already been found in 60 countries and territories.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and CureVac have also been testing whether their respective vaccines will protect against the new variants, but they have yet to release their results.