Pfizer Vaccine Receives Key FDA Panel Approval in US: A federal advisory panel on Thursday recommended the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the drug, kicking off a massive nationwide operation to get nearly three million doses of the vaccine to hospitals and drug stores across the country.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla applauded the panel’s decision. “We are pleased with the strong majority vote, and if the FDA issues an authorization, stand at the ready to bring this vaccine to people in the U.S. in an effort to help combat this devastating pandemic.”
The FDA, however, is not required to follow the panel’s advice. “After we receive recommendations, we will incorporate that into our decision,” Stephen Hahn, the agency’s commissioner, told CBS This Morning, calling the endorsement “nonbinding.”
Remember BREXIT? It has been over four years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, and an agreement on the terms of the separation has yet to be finalized with year-end deadlines looming. The 28 member-nations in the EU must rewrite trade agreements with the UK—travel and border decisions, military obligations, and immigration issues. There is a strong possibility of a “no deal” BREXIT (leaving without agreements in place), per UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
While Johnson said the public and businesses needed to ready themselves for the prospect of no deal, he kept alive the prospect an accord could still be found. Britain left the EU in January and has since been in a transition period, with rules on trade, travel, and business unchanged. That ends on December 31. If by then there is no agreement to protect around $1 trillion in annual trade from tariffs and quotas, businesses on both sides will suffer. In a sign of potential disruption ahead, trucks heading towards the English port of Dover were stacked up for miles on Thursday, with Brexit stockpiling and pre-Christmas traffic blamed.
Check out this resource called The non-Brits’ guide to Brexit (because it affects you too) if you want to learn more.
Recovery Tracker Falls Off Over Thanksgiving: Amid a socially-distanced Thanksgiving, the US Recovery Tracker fell sharply in the final week of November, down 3.2ppts to 74.5. While such a reading would otherwise be extremely concerning, we caution that the drop was exacerbated by a seasonal pullback in employment and small-business activity.
Still, excluding the holiday effect, the recovery’s underlying dynamics are disappointing. The third COVID-19 wave has reached record proportions of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Mobility is contracting as cold weather and virus fear keep the country indoors, employment growth is softening, and demand is increasingly hesitant.
While the prospect for widespread vaccination allows us to be more optimistic about 2021, the current virus resurgence can still deal the economy a significant near-term blow. After an anticipated 3.4% contraction in 2020, we forecast GDP growth of 4.3% in 2021.
Windfall Profits and Deadly Risks: The Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute shared interesting data about the ways various large retailers have responded to COVID-19 with increased compensation for workers as their own profits soared.
For most retail workers, hazard pay has been over for months and wages have returned to their pre-pandemic norm. It has been an average of 133 days since the retail workers in our analysis last received hazard pay. Retail workers at large drug store chains have gone the longest (243 days) on average since receiving hazard pay, and received the least amount ($300). Grocery workers follow, with a modest average COVID-19 compensation ($1,175) and more than 140 days on average since hazard pay ended.
From Victor Fiorillo of Philly Mag: “I’m pretty sure that prior to 2020, I had never been asked where to find awesome holiday light displays. But thanks to COVID and the fact that we’re all scrambling to find fun, safe things to do, it’s a question that keeps coming up. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a great answer. Until now. Enter Mike Kane and his ChristmasPrism app, which allows you to find local houses with primo Christmas light displays.”
The ChristmasPrism app was born out of fatherly necessity. Kane, a 36-year-old dad of an 11-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old, lives in Delco, where people take their holiday lights very seriously. And they start setting them up early.