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Pfizer releases positive news on Covid variants, emotional testimony in Chauvin trial and MLB opening day

Good morning, NBC News readers.

There is positive vaccine news on the Covid-19 variant front, more emotional testimony from the Derek Chauvin trial and it’s possibly the best day of the year for baseball fans.

Here’s what we’re watching this Thursday morning.

Pfizer says study suggests vaccine works against South African variant, is effective after 6 months

Pfizer and BioNtech said Thursday that trials suggest their vaccine is effective against a coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa, which some experts worry might evade existing shots.

The drugmakers also said in a statement that 12,000 people involved in their Phase 3 trial experienced high levels of protection against Covid-19 six months after their second dose, with no serious safety concerns.

The data “provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against currently circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population,” said BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.

This comes a day after the companies said their vaccine is safe and effective in teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15.

They plan to request emergency use authorization for those ages in the coming weeks.

Thursday’s top stories

Jae C. Hong / AP

Four people, including a child, killed in California shooting

Four people, including a child, were killed in a shooting at a business complex in Orange, California, Wednesday evening, officials said. The suspect and another person were injured and taken to a hospital after the shooting. By Phil Helsel | Read more

New videos show what happened before George Floyd’s deadly encounter with police

The convenience store cashier who said he was handed a fake $20 bill by George Floyd last May testified that he regrets flagging it and that he watched Floyd’s arrest with “disbelief and guilt.” By Janelle Griffith | Read more

Exclusive: Texas officials circulated climate skeptic’s talking points on power failures during storm

As millions of Texans went without power for days during February’s devastating storm, Texas oil and gas regulators were circulating talking points from a noted climate skeptic blaming system failures on the state’s embrace of wind and solar energy, emails obtained by NBC News show. By Josh Lederman | Read more

OPINION: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ is comforting — in a mindless monster battle kind of way

After a tough year, sometimes you just want to watch monsters hit each other, cultural critic Ani Bundel writes in an opinion piece. By Ani Bundel | Read more

The inquiry into the Florida congressman stemmed from an investigation of a state tax official who was enmeshed in multiple controversies in his three years in office. By Dareh Gregorian and Tom Winter| Read more

BETTER: 7 spring vegetables to buy now — and how to cook them

Bored with the same old meals? These spring vegetables are bursting with color and nutrition. Here’s how to work them into your cooking repertoire. By Frances Largeman-Roth | Read more

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Also in the news …


Beach days are coming soon… From strapless to halter, here are the best affordable one-piece swimsuits for women.

One fun thing

Jerome Miron / Reuters file

Today is a big day for baseball lovers: Major League Baseball is welcoming fans back to the stands for the first time since 2019 with a full 162-game season.

The Covid pandemic truncated last year’s season to just 60 games and kept fans out of the parks. But now, every stadium will open and fans will be allowed in varying degrees as teams adhere to coronavirus protocols.

“Hearing the crack of the bat, the sounds and the smells of baseball, it’s always been a big part of recovery,” President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks Derrick Hall told NBC News. “We need this. It’s a great way to turn the page and get back to normalcy.”

Watch a video on baseball’s big day here.

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Thanks, Petra

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