business news in context, analysis with attitude

Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  In the United States, there now have been 29,255,365 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 525,778 deaths and 19,694,337 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 114,738,603 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,544,254 resultant fatalities and 90,294,960 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the weekend authorized the Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the third vaccine to be available in the US.  The move is expected to be "a big boost for a mass-vaccination campaign rushing to end the deadliest pandemic in more than a century< in the words of the Wall Street Journal.

Shipping reportedly has begun, and does are expected to be administered starting in a couple of days.

•  The New York Times writes that "Johnson & Johnson has pledged to provide the United States with 100 million doses by the end of June. When combined with the 600 million doses from the two-shot vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna slated to arrive by the end of July, there will be more than enough shots to cover any American adult who wants one.

"But federal and state health officials are concerned that even with strong data to support it, some people may perceive Johnson & Johnson’s shot as an inferior option."

•  Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on "Meet The Press yesterday that he would have no problem taking the new Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, and urged Americans to take whatever vaccine is available to them when they are able to be inoculated.

"All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” Fauci said.  "If you go to a place and you have J&J, and that’s the one that’s available now, I would take it … I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.”

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 49.8 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 24.8 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 96.4 million doses have been distributed."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "nearly half of the U.S. population ages 65 and older has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt said."

•  From the Washington Post:

"Health experts say the coronavirus vaccines may do more than protect recipients from covid-19. Researchers say people who are vaccinated and still contract the virus may carry less of it and also shed less of it — meaning those whom they expose to it may not become as sick.

"There isn’t a lot of evidence yet to support this hypothesis, but researchers say it is likely the case based largely on observations in animal studies, as well as some preliminary research in humans.

"This, however, doesn’t mean that vaccinated people should stop taking precautions, such as wearing a mask."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "hospitalizations in the U.S. continued their steady decline, with 47,352 logged for Sunday, the second day in a row the number was less than 50,000 after crossing that threshold on Nov. 3."

•  The Washington Post reports that "a steady decline in new coronavirus cases in the United States appears to have stalled in recent days, public health officials said, warning that new, more transmissible variants could be taking hold. The number of new infections has started to plateau and remains critically high, with more than 76,000 cases reported Saturday, even as hospitalizations continue to drop."

•  The New York Times writes about how, while widespread testing is crucial in controlling the spread of the coronavirus and squashing new outbreaks …. the amount of testing being done in the United States has fallen by 30 percent in recent weeks."

There are, essentially, five reasons:  fewer exposures leading people to get tested, less travel leading to fewer exposures, bad weather around the country that curtailed testing, the vaccine rollout that has become the center of public health efforts in most places, and pandemic fatigue.

However, the Times writes, "The slump in testing, at a time when a clear picture of the pandemic is still badly needed, worries some epidemiologists … Among other things, less testing makes it harder to follow the virus’s mutations and to get ahead of variants that may be more contagious or deadly."

But, there is a silver lining:  "The decline in testing may not be a cause for alarm - and may even be a good sign - if it reflects wider progress in tamping down the pandemic."

Seems to me that this could be an opportunity for retailers that happen to have databases that give them information about who their older customers are.  Reaching out and helping these folks their vaccinations would be a real service that would resonate for a lot of demographics.

•  The New York Times reports that "the chaotic vaccine rollout has come with a maze of confusing registration pages and clunky health care websites. And the technological savvy required to navigate the text alerts, push notifications and email reminders that are second nature to the digital generation has put older adults … who need the vaccine the most, at a disadvantage. As a result, seniors who lack tech skills are missing out on potentially lifesaving shots.

"The digital divide between generations has always been stark, but the pandemic’s abrupt curtailing of in-person interactions has made that division even more apparent."

•  The Daily Voice reports that "new research suggests that a common accessory that is already worn by millions of people can make the wearer three times less likely to catch COVID-19.

"While face masks have been found to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 through the mouth and nose, not much research has been done on how to keep the virus from entering via people’s eyes.

"However, a recent study found that people who wear glasses at least 8 hours a day are two to three times less likely to catch COVID-19 than people who are not wearing them."