Clinical trials for the Covid-19 vaccine began in the United States on March 20. Two days prior, I texted my friends that I wanted to sign up as soon as they began enrollment.
“You know how dangerous that is? That’s why they’re trials!” my friend responded, with genuine concern.
But I wasn’t worried. My father is an oncologist, my mother a clinical-trial researcher. In fact, my entire family — my parents, brother, sister, grandmother, and I — signed up for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine trial. I feel safe because I am informed about the risks, because I know ethical considerations have been made, and because I trust my mom and dad’s recommendations as medical professionals — and as my parents.
I get why there’s a perception that human clinical trials are unsafe, or that enrolling in a trial is like consenting to be a lab rat. Medications and vaccines in trials have not yet been FDA-approved, and that idea alone is scary. How good can a new medicine be if we’re still trying to prove that it’s safe and it works? Plus, if we don’t even know all the possible side effects yet, how do we know what to expect?
It doesn’t help that in the United States, there is already unwarranted skepticism and fear around vaccines. President Donald Trump’s declaration that he would get a vaccine approved before Election Day has raised fears about whether he can actually bypass standard medical and clinical regulations and distribute a vaccine before it’s ready. (Fact-check: He can’t.) The politicization of brand new vaccines has resulted in a lot of confusion and doubt: Less than 50 percent of Americans say they are committed to getting a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation in 2020, and the Trump administration has interfered in the decision-making of public health institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For many Americans, it’s gotten more difficult to know who to trust and what to believe about a contagious virus we still have so much to learn about.
But the process of developing a vaccine at unprecedented speed has actually been a rare success story in the US pandemic response, and trials like what I’m participating in are an important way to make sure vaccines are safe. When I asked my mother, Vicky, a clinical-trial researcher, to explain to me how this would work, she stressed that the most essential element of a vaccine trial is “preserving the safety of the individual, first and foremost.” Knowing this, I decided to sign up to test out one of the most consequential medical developments in the world right now.
What happens during the Covid-19 vaccine trial?
As the coronavirus spread throughout Florida, where we live, my family spent less and less time leaving the house. Like many families, we were getting groceries delivered and limiting our contact with people. My mom, sister, grandmother and I were all working from home. We were being as safe as we could, but there were still some concerns. My brother was about to start in-person school. My dad works in a hospital and treats immunocompromised patients, which puts him at risk for Covid-19.
However, his being a doctor also means he is considered a priority for the vaccine trial. My grandmother, because of her age group, was also considered a priority. And because we all lived together for the summer, it made sense for all of us to enroll, to protect each other.
Nearly 30,000 people nationwide are expected to participate in the study. But trials are only conducted in cities where the virus is spreading. In Orlando, Florida, where we enrolled, daily new cases of Covid-19 reached a peak of more than 15,000 by mid-July. Statewide, the virus was on the rise as well.
Over a period of about three months, the six of us received two injections spaced three weeks apart. Four weeks after the second injection, we went back for another blood draw, which the investigators will use to check how many antibodies we produced. Because the study is randomized and observer-blind, the researchers, doctors, and participants do not know who received the vaccine and who received the placebo. According to the consent form, we could be in this study for up to 26 months and will need to visit the site another three or four times. Over the course of the study, we will have had our blood drawn five times. (On October 16, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla wrote in an open letter that it is possible we may know whether the vaccine works by the end of October, adding that Pfizer will apply for emergency use authorization by late November, assuming positive safety data.)
In phases 2 and 3 of the Covid-19 trial we enrolled in, the vaccine is given to reasonably healthy individuals. As with other vaccines, it’s meant to be preventive. Plus, this phase of the Pfizer trial merely tests the efficacy of the vaccine against a placebo. Nobody is getting injected with live virus (the stuff that makes you sick); it’s just the mRNA of the protein of the virus.
Throughout the process, there’s careful oversight: An independent committee of experts called a Data Safety Monitoring Board routinely analyzes the safety of a trial. At a minimum, my mother says, these committees are made up of a highly qualified ethicist, physician, and statistician.
In this trial, it appears that no news is good news. There’s not much communication with the clinic unless we need to report symptoms. Follow-up is simple; in fact, we could do almost all of it from our phones. At the end of the first appointment, we were instructed to download a symptom-monitoring app called the Covid-19 Illness Diary, which offers the prompt: “Have you experienced any of the following?” followed by a short list of symptoms. And that’s it. I fill mine out on Mondays.
The appointment for the second injection was nearly identical to the first: I sat in the waiting room, answered questions about my health, took a pregnancy test (required for anyone who can get pregnant), sat in another waiting room, received the injection, and waited for another 30 minutes to monitor symptoms before I was dismissed.
I felt safe the whole time. But I’m also young, and younger people have been shown to be less likely to get seriously ill from Covid-19. And although many older people might be anxious to participate in a trial, my 80-year-old grandmother, Henie, is fairly confident in the process because she is doing it with her family and because she trusts my parents when it comes to science. She also gets to spend some time with my dad when they get their vaccine injections together. Henie said she felt safe at the clinic but also knew the benefits, for her at least, outweighed the risks.
She explains that she knew some people who hadn’t left their homes for more than 140 days, and worries that kind of isolation could be more dangerous for someone her age than masking up and participating in the trial in a sterile environment. “And my family participated,” Henie added. “By myself, I don’t think I would have gone.”
Distrust in clinical trials is nothing new
In the US in 2020, there are so many regulations in place that you’d be hard-pressed to find a clinical trial that’s outright dangerous. Events like the International Harmonisation Conference established ethical and safety guidelines, and agencies like the FDA, the US Department of Health and Human Services, ethics committees, and institutional review boards all play a role in creating safeguards for clinical studies. But it’s important to note that before new drugs are ever tested in humans, they are tested in animals first.
There is one caveat, though: In phase 1 trials, a small number of highly at-risk patients, often with terminal illnesses, will enroll in a first-in-humans study to rule out toxicity, or to at least demonstrate the medication is less damaging than the disease itself. But this is not the case with phases 2 and 3 of the Covid-19 vaccine trials, which is what my family and I are participating in.
Understandably, the history of unethical practices, forced and unnecessary procedures, and the absence of consent in medical procedures have left some Black and brown Americans distrustful of such trials — Covid-19 trials in particular do not have enough Black participants because of this legacy, though the Pfizer trial made some headway this summer. (My family members and I in the trial are white and Hispanic.)
My mother is clear to distinguish past abusive experiments from clinical studies today. As she puts it, those experiments “did not intend to protect human subjects.” With the Tuskegee syphilis study, for example, it was already known that there was a cure for syphilis. The study’s organizers were observing the course of a disease as it made its way through an at-risk population, under the guise of providing “free health care” to Black men.
On the other hand, clinical trials have also excluded whole categories of people: minors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities, leaving them at high risk when they take the medicine later. Even my brother, who is 17, was not allowed to participate in the trial until about a month ago. But the moment minors were accepted into the study, my parents signed Jimmy up. “I was like, ‘Okay, cool,’” Jimmy told me.
Informed consent is central to conducting these trials. For our trial, everyone in the room was given an iPad and had to spend about 20 minutes swiping through an informed-consent module explaining how a clinical trial works and the possible risks of the vaccine. I actually developed a very low-grade fever — 99.8 degrees at the highest — after the second shot, though the study directors said it didn’t count because it was below their official threshold for “low-grade fever.” I recovered in less than a day, thankfully. But the decision to participate should be an informed one made by the participant or a legal guardian.
As my mom puts it, “We [had] a sort of a discussion in our family, even before the trial was available, that what we knew of the disease was much more deadly and dangerous than what a vaccine could offer.”
It’s also critical to remember that nobody — including the doctors, who have anonymized all the participants — knows whether they got the vaccine or the placebo. Who got injected with what won’t be revealed until the study is completed. But some of us have our suspicions.
My grandmother is convinced she got a placebo. She says she had no side effects whatsoever: “It was like drinking a glass of water.”
Jackie Hajdenberg is an investigative reporter with Columbia Journalism Investigations and USA Today, focusing on voter access. She is based in New York City and Central Florida.
Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.
All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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