Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy ROSA SANCHEZ and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 77.2 million people worldwide and killed over 1.6 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:Dec 22, 5:10 amBioNTech vaccine will likely work on UK variant, company’s CEO saysBioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin is confident that the pharmaceutical company’s coronavirus vaccine will work against the new U.K. variant of the virus.“We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant,” Sahin told a news conference Tuesday, after the vaccine was approved for use in the European Union. “But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.”He explained that the proteins on the U.K. variant are 99% the same as the ones on the original strain, so BioNTech has “scientific confidence” that its vaccine will be effective on the variant as well.Still, more studies need to be done.“But we will know it only if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data,” Sahin said. “The likelihood that our vaccine works … is relatively high.”Dec 22, 1:45 amOver 60 arrested at superspreader events in LA CountyLos Angeles officials arrested over 60 people involved in underground parties over the weekend. In a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the parties were considered superspreader events, as they violated COVID-19 health protocols.Around 10:45 p.m. Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department responded to an underground party event in Los Angeles and found two people shot. One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement from the LASD. Then, at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, officers responded to another underground party in Compton, where they arrested 67 people: 61 adults and six juveniles. One firearm was recovered. A third underground party, located in Los Angeles, was shut down by the LAPD after a shooting took place. “Sheriff Alex Villanueva has made it clear he will seek out and take law enforcement action against all underground party events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County, who fall under the Health Orders of the County’s Department of Public Health,” the LASD said in their statement. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”Dec 22, 1:09 amBiden applauds COVID relief package but says more work is neededPresident-elect Joe Biden has applauded the COVID-19 relief bill passed Monday by the House and Senate. In a tweet early Tuesday morning, Biden voiced his approval of the package, but warned that Congress still has more work to do in the new year. “I applaud this relief package, but our work is far from over. Starting in the new year, Congress will need to immediately get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan. My message to everyone out there struggling right now: help is on the way,” he tweeted.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Trump has routinely lashed out at nations for endangering the security of the U.S., famously threatening “fire and fury” against North Korea if the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, continued testing nuclear weapons.Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reacted to Soleimani’s death in a U.S. drone strike by vowing “harsh retaliation.”Earlier Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security released a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin stating that “Iran and its partners, such as Hizballah, have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct operations in the United States.”However, the bulletin added, “At this time we have no information indicating a specific, credible threat to the Homeland.”In the aftermath of Thursday’s fatal attack on the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces, Trump has sought to defend his action, saying the U.S. does not “seek war” while warning terrorists not to target American interests.“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” Trump told reporters in Miami. A readout of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov released by the State Department on Friday said Pompeo “made clear that the United States remains committed to de-escalation.”Trump’s mention of “52 American hostages” is a reference to the Iran hostage crisis that cast a shadow over former President Jimmy Carter’s presidency.Iranian radicals seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in retaliation for longstanding U.S. support for the recently deposed shah.In November 1980, with the standoff ongoing, Carter lost his bid for reelection to Ronald Reagan. The hostages were finally released minutes before Reagan’s inauguration on Jan. 20 1981.Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he chastised Democrats earlier Saturday for their efforts to impeach him.“As hard as I work, & as successful as our Country has become with our Economy, our Military & everything else, it is ashame [sic] that the Democrats make us spend so much time & money on this ridiculous Impeachment Lite Hoax,” Trump said. “I should be able to devote all of my time to the REAL USA!” President Donald Trump warned Iran that the U.S. has identified dozens of sites to be hit “very fast and very hard” if it retaliates for the killing of military leader Qassem Soleimani.“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have … targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”Trump did not disclose which specific targets the U.S. has identified for possible strikes. However, the president’s indication the list included sites of cultural significance drew an immediate outcry on social media.