Happy Friday. Today’s email contains 1,474 words, which should take you 5-6 minutes to read. Have a great weekend, y’all. 📆 😎
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”
– Albert Einstein
We (Probably) Have Vaccines… Now What?
Two vaccine makers published promising data from Phase 3 clinical trials over the past week: Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines were shown to be roughly 95% effective when compared with a placebo, with few reported side effects.
Both companies plan to seek FDA approval before the end of the year. Once secured, hundreds of millions of doses will need to be produced and distributed across the U.S. (and the world).
🤿 A deeper dive…
Under Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government signed a contract to purchase 100M doses of both vaccines (which require two doses to be effective) once they receive approval. Per the contract, the government has the option to purchase additional doses of either vaccine, should it want (500M of Pfizer/BioNTech’s & 400M of Moderna’s).
In preparation, the federal government asked all 50 states, D.C., and 13 U.S. territories to submit first drafts of a vaccine distribution plan by mid-October. A run-down of the plans.
Each state will have to determine how to distribute the limited number vaccine doses initially made available, focusing on priority populations that include health care workers, essential workers, and those at high-risk (i.e, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions).
🧊 Cool Runnings
Vaccines generally need to be produced, transported, and stored in specific – usually cold – conditions, lest they be rendered ineffective.
Pfizer & BioNTech’s vaccine fits this mold, requiring a storage temperature of -94ºF. The company developed deep-freeze “suitcases” packed with dry ice that can be tightly sealed and shipped (even in non-refrigerated trucks), though the containers pose their own set of unique challenges.
Moderna’s vaccine reportedly remains stable at a range of 36ºF to 46ºF – the temperature of a standard refrigerator – for up to 30 days, and can be stored for up to six months at -4ºF.
While minimal problems are anticipated for the distribution of Moderna’s vaccine, the U.S. firm is limited by current production capabilities and hopes to produce 500M to 1B doses in total for 2021.
Pfizer/BioNTech are confident in their ability to supply 50M doses by the end of 2020 and ~1.3B doses by the end of next year.
So… what are people saying?
America’s health depends on how fast and well we distribute the COVID vaccine
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📢 New Iran Sanctions
The Treasury Department announced a broad slate of new sanctions against Iran on Wednesday, targeting the country’s Mostazafan Foundation and around 160 of its subsidiaries, along with select Iranian officials. The department described the sanctions, which freeze the assets of those involved and generally prevent Americans from doing business with them, as targeting a critical patronage network for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
More: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a separate statement in support of sanctions against Iran. Read it here.
The CDC issued a guidance on Thursday urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. While the agency doesn’t have the formal power to impose such a mandate, a CDC spokesman called the guidance “a strong recommendation,” citing concerns about COVID-19 transmission as the CDC reported over 165k new cases in the U.S. yesterday.
More: HHS launched a pilot program in five states to introduce the same rapid, point-of-care coronavirus test used by the NBA to create its “bubble.”
Georgia concluded a hand tally of the state’s presidential ballots late Thursday, with election officials confirming a ~12k vote lead for Joe Biden out of nearly 5M votes counted. Once the state certifies the results, the Trump campaign can request an official recount (which would be done via machine scans) since the margin remains within 0.5%.
BuzzFeed agreed to acquire Verizon Media’s HuffPost yesterday for an undisclosed amount as part of a larger stock deal between the two companies. Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon Media will become a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed (which will operate independently from the HuffPost), and collaborate with the company on advertising and other ventures.
More: The deal reunites BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti with HuffPost, which he co-founded in 2005.
🚘 EV Mania
💰 General Motorsannounced plans to spend $27B on all-electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, an increase of $7B compared to initial plans announced in March. The automaker plans to release 30 new EVs globally in that time period.
🇬🇧 UK EV maker Arrivalannounced plans to go public via SPAC in early 2021 (with an expected valuation of $5.4B).
💵 Economy Quick-Hits:
📁 Another 742k Americansfiled for unemployment insurance last week per the Department of Labor, up from 711k the week before (the first increase since early October).
🏠 U.S. home sales rose 4.3% in October to the highest number in 14 years, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
🛍️ U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% last month according to the Census Bureau, the smallest monthly gain since the recovery started in May.
🎥 Warner Bros.announced plans to debut Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max starting Christmas Day.
🦉 Hoo Are You?
Each fall, the head gardener at Rockefeller Center in NYC explores nurseries and residential backyards throughout the Northeast to find an evergreen to serve as the complex’s iconic Christmas tree from November to January. This year, the eminent greenskeeper selected a 75-foot Norway spruce that stood in the front yard of a house in Oneonta, NY – 170 miles north of the city.
When the massive conifer arrived at Rockefeller Center, the workers discovered the tree was not the only thing transplanted from upstate.
A Saw-whet Owl, the smallest variety of owl in the Northeast (reaching a maximum height of 8.3 in), had been trapped in the tree throughout the duration of the trip from Oneonta, meaning the vagabond bird had not eaten in three days. After uncovering the unintentional stowaway, the tree workers brought the owl – who is being called “Rockefeller” – to New York’s Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, where it is being nursed back to health.
🚒 Lifting Spirits
Four-year-old Nolan Turner of Norfolk, VA, dreams of becoming a firefighter. The youngest of five children in his family, Nolan is inspired to pursue the profession by his father, Levin, who has served on the local Portsmouth Fire Rescue team for the past 14 years. But before the young boy can join the company of first responders and save others’ lives, he must first save his own.
In September 2019, Nolan was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.
On November 13th, knowing how much Nolan loves firefighters, Levin’s coworkers on the fire rescue team surprised the youngster while he was receiving his cancer treatment at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters by showing up outside of his fifth-story hospital room window on their firetruck’s cherry picker.
Safely socially-distanced on the other side of the glass, the elevated emergency responders (one of whom dressed as Captain America) held up posters encouraging Nolan in his recovery.
🎵 Middle School Musical
Grace Moore, a 12-year-old from Brooklyn, NY, had fostered a love of music since the age of two. Now a seventh-grader at Poly Prep Country Day School in the neighborhood of Dyker Heights, Grace characterizes herself as quiet and shy.
Others would describe her as one of the youngest composers for the New York Philharmonic orchestra.
This October, the professional orchestra members performed the debut of “Summer,” an original musical score written by Grace (video). The young artist, who hopes to inspire others to create and appreciate music, wrote the piece as a participant in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composer Program. This project teaches children as young as eight years old how to compose original music scores and explore their creative capabilities.
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🪐 Life As We Know It… the team of researchers who detected unexpectedly high levels of phosphine on Venus – a potential marker for extraterrestrial life – have downgraded their claims after a reanalysis of the data suggested phosphine levels at least seven times lower than first reported.
📜 The Paper Chase
Where was paper first produced?
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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