A Blog by Jonathan Low


Nov 27, 2021

Pfizer To Offer Omicron-Resistant Covid Vaccine in 100 Days If Necessary

To put it another way, vaccine manufacturers have reduced the time it takes to create a new Covid vaccine - in this case, Omicron-resistant - by two-thirds. JL 

Yelena Dzhanova reports in Business Insider:

Pfizer said it will be able to manufacture and distribute an updated version of its COVID-19 vaccine within 100 days if the new variant Omicron is found to be resistant to its current vaccine. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also preparing to respond to the Omicron's possible threat. "We expect more data from laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine"

How Walmart Has Come Back Against Amazon

90% of Americans live within ten miles of a Walmart which is increasingly important as Covid never seems to end. 

And as prices rise, Walmart's ability to offer lower cost items is attracting new business. JL

The Hustle reports:

90% of Americans are within 10 miles of a Walmart and this availability will be increasingly valuable in a post-COVID world. Walmart beat Wall Street expectations as “price sensitive grocery shoppers flocked to its stores amid rising costs for household staples.” Walmart is attracting a more upscale demographic with its Prime-like loyalty program (Walmart+), American Express partnership, and DoorDash-like delivery service (offered in 900 cities). Walmart is expanding its revenue streams by onboarding 3rd-party merchants into its distribution network and rolling out fintech solutions for customers.

Paris Limits Electric Scooters To 10 KPH - 6.2 MPH. Will Other Cities Follow?

The uneasy relationship between cities and scooters has taken another turn as Paris - an iconic tourist destination and scooter hotspot - is now limiting the speed at which the electric vehicles can go. 

This may take some of the fun out of such rentals but should also reduce the growing sense that Paris - and other cities - are simply urban Disney Worlds designed only for visitors' Instagram shots and personal thrills. JL 

Romain Dillet reports in Tech Crunch:

Paris has been an important market for scooter sharing companies. It’s a dense city with an important network of bike lanes. There are also a lot of tourists looking for different ways to explore the city. The City has announced that scooter sharing services should restrict the maximum top speed to 10km/h (that’s 6.2mph) following a number of pedestrian injuries that involved a scooter. aThe new rules could have significant consequences on usage in Paris.

The Reason Online Merchants Need Retail Stores More Than Ever

The rising costs of acquiring online customers and the declining rents for retail locations have changed the economic calculus. 

In addition, stores have become effective places for highlighting key products and as both purchase pick up or return drop off sites for consumers. JL 

Suzanne Kapner reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Retailers this year are expected to open more stores than they close for the first time since 2017. Stores have become integral in fulfilling e-commerce orders. They serve as distribution hubs and convenient places for shoppers to pick up and return online purchases - services key this holiday season as orders threaten to overwhelm shipping carriers. As the cost of acquiring customers online has skyrocketed, stores are a less expensive way to attract new shoppers. And as landlords have become more willing to accept shorter and more flexible lease terms, retailers are less likely to lock into unproductive locations

Why Many Retail Store Workers Are Unvaccinated This Holiday Season

Retailers expect more in-store shopping this season due to consumer worries about supply chain disruptions causing delivery delays. 

But the retailers are having trouble hiring all the people they need so refuse to impose vaccine mandates in order to broaden the pool of applicants. No one ever accused US business of being especially public-spirited. JL 

Lauren Hirsch and Sapna Maheshwari report in the New York Times:

As other industries with workers in public-facing roles have moved toward requiring vaccines, retailers have (not), citing concerns about a labor shortage. Retailers worry about having enough people to work. In a tight labor market, retailers have been offering higher wages and better hours to employees in hopes of having enough people to staff their stores and distribution centers. Retailers will hire 665,000 seasonal workers this year. “If you had a choice of going to a store that said, ‘All our employees are vaccinated or tested,’ or another that says, ‘We have no idea who’s vaccinated or tested,’ which would you choose?

What's Known So Far About the Covid Omicron Variant

The reason there is such concern is that the Omicron variant appears to be highly transmissable and has a large number of mutations which makes it easier to evade immunity from vaccines or antibodies. 

On the positive side, those who have received booster shots should be able to withstand it.  The speed with which a global network of researchers identified Omicron and the capabilities of the companies manufacturing vaccines mean that updating a vaccine to address it should not be difficult or time consuming. And, once again, it is the unvaccinated who are most likely to be affected - a minority in most countries, including the US. Omicron's emergence does, though, reinforce the message that getting more people vaccinated in poorer, more remote countries, must be a higher priority. JL

Andrew Joseph reports in Stat:

The variant “has a very high number of mutations with a concern for predictive immune evasion and transmissibility.” Nearly all the antigenic sites we know about are changed on this virus." That suggests the ability of antibodies “will be compromised in their ability to neutralize the virus.” The good news: studies suggest booster doses can, at least for a time, elicit such sky-high levels of antibody that they can withstand a mutated virus, even if the antibodies aren’t targeting the specific viral proteins. It will (likely) be more of a threat to people who are unvaccinated.

Nov 26, 2021

US To Require All Incoming Travellers To Be Fully Vaccinated

The new requirement was in the works even before the new, Omicron Covid variant was discovered, but had not yet been formally announced. 

That the latest variant has been labelled a 'of concern,' may push forward the start date for the full traveler vaccination requirement. JL

Zeke Miller reports in The Associated Press:

The US will require essential, nonresident travelers crossing U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, government and emergency response officials, to be fully vaccinated. The rules pertain to non-U.S. nationals. American citizens and permanent residents may still enter the U.S. regardless of their vaccination status, but face additional testing hurdles because officials believe they more easily contract and spread COVID-19.