A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 9, 2021

Scientists Work Towards Elusive Goal: Simple Pill To Treat Covid

A number of pharma companies, including Merck and Pfizer, are already working on such a pill. 

But distilling all the requirements necessary for such an antiviral is complicated, though the science may be closer than companies are letting on. JL

Damian Garde reports in Stat:

“We’re looking for something I could give everyone in an urgent care setting with exposure or a positive test:” a pill, exquisitely calibrated to target SARS-CoV-2, with tolerable side effects and a low price tag (that) would work just as well as antibody treatments that require an hourlong intravenous infusion, but would come in a packet patients could take home. The first to check all the boxes of an ideal antiviral was developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The drug is a nucleoside analog, designed to throw a wrench in viral replication by tricking SARS-CoV-2 into corrupting its own genetic material.

France Will Use mRNA Vaccines Over AstraZeneca For 2nd Dose

As concerns rise about the possible connection between AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine and blood clots in a small number of patients, France recommended that a first dose of the AZ vaccine be followed by one from the mRNA brands, Pfizer and Moderna. 

This may accelerate the use of mixed vaccines, already under study, as a means of strengthening immunity as well as lessening dependence on one brand. JL 

Sudip Kar-Gupta and Benoit Van Overstraeten report in Reuters:

France's top health advisory body in charge of COVID-19 vaccines recommended that recipients of a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot who are under 55 receive a second dose with a messenger RNA vaccine. The French decision came after European drug regulators said there was a possible link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot and cases of rare blood clots. mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have been approved for use in France. Data available on using different vaccines for COVID-19 is encouraging.

Uber and Lyft 'Throwing Money' At Drivers Due To Post-Covid Gig Worker Shortage

Passenger demand for Uber and Lyft has begun to rise as more people are vaccinated and travel resumes.  

The problem is that wait times have gotten longer due to a shortage of drivers who found other jobs and lingering concerns about both health safety and the ride hail apps history of suckering drivers with promises not kept. JL

Dave Lee reports in the Financial Times:

Drivers have been slow to return to the platforms, due to stimulus money and continued concerns over health and safety. Many former drivers have taken new jobs since demand crashed because of lockdowns. Now, faced with a lack of supply to meet the rebound in passengers, the companies are “throwing money” at drivers. Uber announced it would spend $250m on a “stimulus” package to increase incentives for drivers in the US. Lyft has been covering the cost of rental cars, offering bonuses of $800 for referring former drivers back to the app, and adding extra pay when the journey to pick up a passenger takes longer than nine minutes.

The Reason the US Is Experiencing 'Disturbingly' High New Covid Infections

Vaccine hesitancy and relaxed safety standards meet more easily transmitted new Covid variants. JL

Beth Mole reports in ars technica:

Even as the pace of vaccination in the US nears 3 million per day, the country hovers on the brink of a fourth surge, with current cases lingering at a “disturbingly high level.” The seven-day average of new daily cases is now over 63,000—levels seen at the record winter surge. “When you’re at that level, there is the risk of getting a surge back up.” Adding to the precarious situation is the highly transmissible UK variant. It is now the predominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the US

Why Transaction Data Is A Powerful Predictor of Future Behavior

Relatively simple cross-referencing of non-intrusive data can reveal a cornucopia of information about the customer, her instincts, behavioral patterns - and intentions. JL

Stephen Yu reports in Ad Week:

“Who” is made of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) such as name, address, email, phone number, customer ID. "What" is SKU number, product descriptions and product categories. “How much” is paid amount, net unit price, discount, coupon redemptions, tax, shipping, returns and cancels. “When” is the local date and time of the transactions. Credit cards (can) indicate “luxury.” Cash is linked to distinctive demographics. The whole credit card number for customer analyses is not necessary as is an extra security risk. The types of swiped cards and other payment methods such as “financing” or “Apple Pay” suffice. In the hospitality business, add dates of booking, payment, travel, arrival and departure.

How Google's and Apple's More Privacy-Compliant Data Rules Disrupt Ad Targeting

No, ad targeting is not going away. What Google and Apple are doing by reducing use of third party data which allow brands to identify individual customers is consolidating power in their own hands. And ramping up their battle with Facebook.

But interestingly from the standpoint of social science, they are permitting the targeting of groups with common traits. Given tech's history of iterative evolution, new means will be found to target individuals. Though the data access in that future may come with more restraints. JL

 Alexandra Bruell reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Google plans to eliminate third-party cookies on its browser in favor of a more privacy-compliant approach, and won’t offer individual ad targeting. Apple also plans to make it harder for mobile apps to collect data that target digital ads. “This challenges us to look at new data sets.” The requires advertisers to make changes without a lot of visibility into how digital advertising works without cookies. Google will build tools that let advertisers target large groups of people with common traits. Marketers will have to adjust how they reach the right consumers, (and) how they measure results. They may operate more like when brands had less insight into which ads motivated consumers to buy

Apr 8, 2021

Data Confirm Moderna Vaccine Causes Stronger Side Effects Than Pfizer

Data from the millions of vaccinated people who responded to the Center for Disease Control's V-Safe mobile text survey system reveal that more people had reactions like fever, fatigue and chills from Moderna's vaccine than from Pfizer/BioNTech's.  

These data confirm the results from the two companies trials of the vaccines. JL

Nicole Wetsman reports in The Verge:

Of people who got their first dose, 70% said they had injection site reaction, like pain or swelling, and 50% had fatigue or chills. People who got a Moderna shot were more likely to have a side effect - 73% had an injection site reaction, compared with 65% who had a Pfizer / BioNTech dose. 74% said they had reactions after their Moderna shot, compared with 64% getting Pfizer / BioNTech. The biggest difference was for chills, which were experienced by 40% taking Moderna and only 22% taking the Pfizer / BioNTech shot.