No direct link between the COVID vaccine and a recent string of deaths in the elderly, Norway finds

Health authorities in Norway say there’s no evidence of a direct link between the recent string of deaths among elderly people inoculated against COVID-19, and the vaccine they received.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency is seeking to address fears that taking the vaccine might be too risky, after 33 people in the country aged 75 and over died following immunization, according to the agency’s latest figures. All were already seriously ill, it said.

“Clearly, Covid-19 is far more dangerous to most patients than vaccination,” Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said by phone on Monday. “We are not alarmed.”

The initial reports from Norway made international headlines as the world looks for early signs of potential side effects from the vaccines. Until Friday, Norway had only used the vaccine provided by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, and the companies are now working with the Nordic country to look into the … Read the rest

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Business could be on the precipice of an automation explosion

Automation is hardly a new threat to workers. Long before the arrival of COVID-19 disrupted businesses, many manufacturing executives were already changing how their companies assembled products, and other industries were considering following suit.

But as the global crisis has dragged on, the pandemic could be accelerating that shift.

“Every time there’s a disruption it forces people to make decisions,” says Tom Smith, an associate professor of finance at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “I would put money on the fact that this has sped up at least the decision-making process. When, all of a sudden, you’re in a crisis, smart and creative people find solutions. Creative people don’t let the crisis take everything down if they can help it.”

Just under 40% of U.S. jobs are at significant risk of being automated, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). More than 10% of the country’s jobs are at high … Read the rest

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Look out L.A. and New York: the migration wave lead by Gen Z and city dwellers is real

Across the nation major central business districts in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle remain eerily empty as employers continue to keep staff working remotely. Heading into the holidays, only 1 in 10 office workers had made their way back into Manhattan.

But is the disruption caused by the pandemic—and the work from home boom—actually convincing Americans to pack their bags and move?

To find out, Fortune and SurveyMonkey polled 2,098 U.S. adults in November.* This poll, which has a modeled error estimate of +/-3%, is an even deeper study than our August look at migration

The finding? Millions of Americans moved as a result of the pandemic—and millions more plan to do so. Among U.S. adults, 16% say they have either moved out of their city/county during the pandemic (6%) or plan to move in the next 12 months (12%). Around 2% of Americans who moved … Read the rest

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Corporate America, we need to talk about activism

Here’s the honest truth, we need to talk about a lot of things. Matthew McCarthy, Ben & Jerry’s CEO, has a message for CEOs who are worried about walking the talk: Don’t let fear hold you back.

But first, here’s your Bob Marley- inspired week in review, in Haiku.

Don’t worry, ‘bout a
thing, cause every little thing’s
gonna be alright!

Rose up this mornin’
smiled with the risin’ sun, with
three little birds pitch

on my heart and mind,
singin’ sweet songs, melodies 
pure and true, and now

they have a message 
for you (and me): One bird called
Justice, another

called Sweet Equity
the third bird was you! Making
everything alright.

We appreciate how hard you are working. Keep singing your song.

Ellen McGirt
@ellmcgirt
[email protected]

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Pfizer or Moderna? A COVID vaccine distribution dilemma

Good afternoon, readers.

Say you walk into a hospital or other COVID vaccine distribution site. You qualify to get one because you’re a priority group under local regulations, and there are enough available doses around for you to get one. Which one would you actually receive?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already granted emergency authorization to two of them, one from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and the other from Moderna. But you’re unlikely to know which one of those you’ll be getting.

This pandemic has had a unifying theme: Triage. You get the resources to who needs them most. You allocate such resources accordingly. That was the case with coronavirus testing at the start of the outbreak. Now it’s the case for one of the most complex immunization campaigns in history.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines share scientific roots, they’re still very different … Read the rest

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Wall Street wins again: Affirm IPO leaves $1.23 billion (at least) on the table

Here we go again. You’d think that proliferation of direct listings and SPACs last year that enable founders, venture capitalists and big investors to take enterprises public their way would be loosening Wall Street’s grip on the IPOs––a longstanding bonanza for investment banks. But in 2020, 194 tradtional IPOs, the highest total since 2014, got done the old fashioned way, with the bankers frequently selling shares at bargain prices to their prized customers, who cleaned up from a parade of first day pops that resounded among the biggest ever. According to data posted by Jay Ritter of the University of Florida, an expert on IPOs, no fewer than 12 offerings in 2020 left $500 million or more “on the table.” In those dozen deals, the owners collected between half-a-billion and three-and-a-half billion dollars less than if they’d gotten the price where their shares settled at the close of the opening … Read the rest

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The reckoning of the Capitol riots is up to us

Of all the horrific details coming to light about the riots in Washington, D.C. last week, two have left me with strange, emotional bruises.

Here’s the first. As the pro-Trump rioters rampaged through the Capitol building forcing lawmakers to rush for safety, a group of young staffers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had no choice but to take cover in a conference room within her office. They barricaded the door, turned off the lights, and hid under a table—in silence—for two and a half hours and listened to the madness outside. Here’s the part I can’t shake: It was a survival tactic they learned from growing up with active shooter drills in school. 

Here’s the second. 

Footage from inside the Capitol showed a Black Capitol Police officer, later identified by CNN as Eugene Goodman, make a split-second decision to encourage an angry mob to follow him away from the Senate … Read the rest

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Tech’s underdeveloped moral compass is threatening our democracy

Many of us are shocked and appalled by the violence that caused the U.S. Capitol to go into lockdown last week. We should be appalled, but not necessarily surprised. This is, after all, what any regular day on the Internet looks like—with information unregulated and manipulated to communicate skewed views and fake news, more often than not encouraging political fury and violence. What we are seeing now is the consequence of years of unchecked growth in the technology industry. 

Today, the Internet and social networks influence all the information we consume, the opinions we form, the misinformation we believe. Yesterday’s events underscore our new reality. The physical world is becoming more like the Internet: dysfunctional, angry, lawless, and a complete banana republic.

As the CEO of a software company and member of the technology community, I am proud of the many good things my industry has achieved, including technologies that … Read the rest

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What Biden’s Cabinet picks say about how he plans to govern

Joe Biden promised that his presidency would mean a return to normalcy. His Cabinet picks help demonstrate how he plans to deliver.

The president-elect announced his final nominees this past week, completing a diverse team of two dozen people. He noted Friday that this will be the “first Cabinet ever” to reach gender parity and include a majority of people of color, notable given earlier concerns that he was leaning largely on white men.

Some nominees have decades of experience in their respective agencies. Many held prominent roles in the Obama administration. Many have already begun meeting with interest groups and advocacy organizations, and his transition team has had what’s been described as an “open-door policy” toward advocacy groups for months.

It’s a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which was dominated largely by white men with little experience in Washington. Biden’s aides say that was one of the … Read the rest

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Big Tobacco stands down as Colorado and Oregon hike cigarette taxes

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Big Tobacco did something unusual in Marlboro Country last fall: It stood aside while Colorado voters approved the state’s first tobacco tax hike in 16 years.

The industry, led by Altria Group, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, has spent exorbitantly in the past to kill similar state ballot initiatives. In 2018, Altria’s lobbying arm spent more than $17 million to help defeat Montana’s tobacco tax ballot initiative. That same year, it spent around $6 million to help defeat South Dakota’s similar measure.

And four years ago, Altria was the leading funder in a successful $16 million campaign to quash Colorado’s previous proposed tobacco tax increase.

In November, by contrast, Altria didn’t spend a penny in opposition and Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved the tax with two-thirds support. … Read the rest

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