The Reddit logo is seen on a smartphone in front of a displayed Wall Street Bets logo in this illustration taken January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures traded lower early Friday on the news that Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine is 72% effective in the U.S., a lower rate than the two vaccines currently circulating across the country. The vaccine is less potent in other countries, showing a 57% efficacy in South Africa, where a more transmissible virus has spread. The same mutated virus was detected in the U.S. for the first time on Thursday in two cases in South Carolina, prompting health officials to warn that it is certain that more infections have not yet been identified. Against the most serious symptoms of the coronavirus, Johnson & Johnson reported an overall 85% efficacy rate and “complete protection” against hospitalization and death.

An early analysis of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Novavax found that the vaccine was 85% effective against the virus including the variant found in Britain, but that it is less than 50% effective at preventing the spread of the variant identified in South Africa. 

COVID-19 nursing home deaths may have been undercounted by as much as 50% in New York. The state’s attorney general found discrepancies in the numbers reported by state officials after they had estimated nursing home deaths during the pandemic totaled about 8,700. 

Nursing homes facing lawsuits for wrongful death due to coronavirus outbreaks in their facilities are relying on a 2005 law recently changed by the Trump administration as their first line of defense. Nursing homes argue the law provides them legal immunity in those cases, laying groundwork that could be used by a range of businesses to fend off lawsuits resulting from the pandemic.

Tensions continue to escalate between the European Commission and drugmaker AstraZeneca over a shortage of vaccine supplies. The EU published its contract with the company to back its argument that AstraZeneca is reneging on its commitments. Complications of the vaccine rollout in Europe have been compounded by a needle shortage as doctors say many are either too short or too fat to administer the shot. With most rich countries still struggling to secure enough supply of coronavirus vaccines and administer them, low-income countries may not have access for widespread vaccination in their countries until 2023. Experts predict that vaccines will only be widely available in the world’s wealthiest countries this year, creating an urgency in African countries and others to find alternative solutions.

Years of declines in cigarette sales have abruptly ended as more people smoked during lockdowns and switched to real cigarettes following public health concerns over vaping. Consumers likely spent the money they saved from gas, travel and entertainment on cigarettes, similar to a rise in liquor sales. At the same time, public health experts warn that cumulative cigarette smoke exposure increases the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Car buyers are growing their appetite for contactless maintenance and other safety features that slow the spread of the virus. Demand is on the rise for air filtration systems and virtual retail experiences, prompting quick adjustments from carmakers and dealerships to cater their offerings.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Pediatricians pivot to vaccines on the go as immunization rates drop – STAT – 1/29/2021
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Eileen Costello, the chief of ambulatory pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, had been forced to reduce patient visits by 90%. Even so, she tried to keep all appointments with kids to get their routine vaccinations for diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough.

As a ‘Zoom boom’ brings the wealthy to Santa Fe, locals are getting priced out – The Guardian – 1/29/2021
Already one of the tightest rental markets in the US with vacancy rates near 2%, residents of New Mexico’s capital city face an acute crisis from the Covid-19 pandemic’s ravaging of the city’s tourism-based economy as well as competition from an influx of newcomers crowding the housing market.

The Most Worrying Mutations in Five Emerging Coronavirus Variants – Scientific American – 1/29/2021
When the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 burst upon the world last winter, scientists knew it was bad. But they also thought it was stable. Coronaviruses do not mutate as readily as the viruses that cause the flu, hepatitis or AIDS, for instance—thanks in part to a molecular “proofreading” system that SARS-CoV-2 and its kin use to prevent damaging genetic errors when replicating.

Addressing Significant Learning Loss in Mathematics During Covid-19 and Beyond – Education Next – 1/29/2021
Continuing to focus on grade-level instruction carries the real risk that students will only fall further behind, as key learning gaps from prior years prevent mastery of more advanced concepts (“The Grade-Level Expectations Trap,” features, Summer 2020). Without addressing these gaps, they’ll only accumulate over time and lead to more inequitable outcomes.

Augmented Reality Gets Pandemic Boost – The Wall Street Journal – 1/29/2021
Augmented reality, which superimposes digital content onto a user’s view of the real world, became more valuable for some companies such as Mercedes-Benz USA and L’Oréal SA last year amid social distancing requirements and lockdowns. The companies are using the technology to provide assistance for employees and consumers in real-time, without needing to be physically present.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

USA TODAY @USATODAY 29 Jan Drive-thru windows – available at nearly all U.S. stores and two-thirds of stores in its biggest European markets – kept customers coming despite lockdowns. McDonald’s also benefited from a delivery push made before the pandemic began.

Josh Breslow @JoshBreslowWKRN 28 Jan Restaurants and bars that serve alcohol in Nashville and Davidson County will now be allowed to remain open until midnight daily beginning Monday.

NPR Politics @nprpolitics 28 Jan The U.S. economy grew just under 1% in the last 3 months of 2020, the Commerce Department says, as a surge in coronavirus infections impacted in-person businesses like restaurants.

Dana Whyte @dwhytereports 29 Jan Beginning Monday, restaurants in Michigan can reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity. I spoke with owners about how they’re preparing following a rough few months ⤵️ @WOODTV STORY: https://t.co/uy7UEvYq07 https://t.co/7xFEi9BD4h

NBC News @NBCNews 28 Jan Founded within 15 months of each other, Robinhood and r/wallstreetbets each grew slowly at first and then in a sudden rush in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic kept many people at home, including those looking for new hobbies.

CONTENT FACTS

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