The Presidential Daily Brief


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    US Might Lose Out on Promising Vaccine

    An Oxford University team already in human trials with its coronavirus vaccine says the shot could be available by September. That's led countries like Britain and the Netherlands to gear up manufacturing capabilities now in case the vaccine proves effective. Not so in the U.S.: The Oxford team says no North American manufacturer has stepped up, noting that they usually demand exclusive worldwide rights to a drug — but the researchers don't feel that's appropriate during a pandemic. Some American and Chinese companies are also in the clinical trial stage with their own vaccines.

  2. Excess Deaths Soar Above COVID-19 Count

    The U.S. saw an estimated 15,400 deaths in excess of normal levels in March and early April — about double the number attributed to coronavirus in that same period. Similar trends have been recorded around the world, suggesting the virus could be killing far more than official counts show, both directly and by keeping people with other conditions from treatment. Meanwhile, a new report found that cancer screening and diagnostic tests in the U.S. have fallen steeply during the crisis, indicating that people are delaying non-coronavirus medical care — which could lead to more deaths.

    All OZY's coronavirus coverage is collected here.

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    Trump Floats Reopening Schools

    Though many states have determined it wouldn't be safe to reopen schools before summer vacation, President Donald Trump told governors yesterday they should "seriously consider" it. School closures strongly impact the economy, since they keep parents from getting back to work, but both education and public health experts have expressed concern over the safety issues involved — and the point of opening schools for just a few weeks before summer break. Whenever students do get back to class, social distancing guidelines may see desks placed 6 feet apart and playgrounds closed.

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    Oil Stocks, Prices Slide Again

    The American benchmark for crude oil is in free fall again. Futures for delivery in June plunged 25 percent yesterday and fell another 18 percent in early trading today, prompting worries they could once more slip into the negative. While global stock markets were generally stable Tuesday, losses in the oil sector offset other gains. The world's capacity to store unused oil is nearly exhausted, analysts say, which is a factor in depressing prices. But as states and countries continue to gradually open up despite the continuing pandemic, demand for oil could begin to rise.

    Read OZY's analysis of the oil price war.

  5. Also Important...

    Meteorologists say 2020 will be the hottest year on record. A top emergency room doctor in Manhattan has taken her own life. And the head of Tokyo's 2020 Olympics committee says if the virus isn't under control in Japan by 2021, the postponed games will simply be canceled.

    Coronavirus update: Two-thirds of the cases reported in Africa are in just four countries, possibly based on their travel and tourism links with Europe.

    OZY needs you. Our Weekender newsletter uses recommendations from our readers, and we want to hear from you! Send an email to to tell us about the films, TV shows, podcasts and recipes getting you through lockdown, and we'll share them with the whole OZY audience.


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    Pentagon Releases UFO Videos

    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ... well, it's not the coronavirus. The Pentagon has released three unclassified videos of unidentified flying objects. Though they've been seen before — they were published in The New York Times in 2017 — the government said it wanted to clear up speculation about whether the footage was real. The videos, taken in 2004 and 2015, show mysterious objects hovering, rotating and moving very quickly. The Navy confirmed an increase in mysterious sightings last year, and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tweeted yesterday that these videos just "scratch the surface."

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    Contact Tracing Apps Cause Global Concern

    It can be hard to follow. Contact tracing technology is key to tracking the spread of COVID-19, but there's a battle brewing. While some governments have created their own apps, others are embracing tech created by Apple and Google, which is more compatible with smartphones. That's by design: Apple has refused to change privacy settings to help third-party tracing apps, and government tools often store data in a centralized location, while the private ones keep it on users' phones. Apple and Google are expected to offer programming tools to governments starting in mid-May.

  3. Citizen Activists Lead the Way in Water Crises

    Across India, community groups dealing with crushing drought and floods have taken it upon themselves to re-engineer their water supplies, OZY reports. These citizen collectives clear debris, repair dams and revive nearly dry lakes — and they hope to serve as a model for those across the world dealing with disruptions to the water supply. Still, without government intervention, even determined local efforts may not be able to deal with the disruption of climate change.

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    Film Festivals Join Forces and Head to YouTube

    It covers a multitude of cinema. With high-profile film festivals shutting down due to the virus, YouTube has announced a 10-day digital event, partnered with 20 major festivals including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and Venice. The individual festivals will curate their own programs within YouTube's We Are One event, which begins May 29 and will be free for anyone to tune in. It won't entirely replace 2020's film circuit, though: The Venice Film Festival still says it'll have an in-person festival in September.

    Read about the film premiere the night the Berlin Wall fell.

  5. NBA Pulls Back on Opening Facilities

    They have to jump through a few more hoops. While some basketball teams had hoped to have training facilities open by the end of this week, they now say they'll wait to see how reopening measures in some states affect the pandemic first. Concerns remain, though, that teams in states that stay closed for longer will be at a training disadvantage. Even when voluntary workouts do resume — now set for May 8 — coaches have been instructed not to touch players, and everyone on the court must maintain a 12-foot distance.