The daily business briefing: July 15, 2020

Moderna coronavirus vaccine candidate shows promise in early trial, U.K. bars the use of Huawei 5G gear, and more 

Moderna headquarters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Moderna reports 'robust' immune response in early coronavirus vaccine trial

Drugmaker Moderna said Tuesday that its potential coronavirus vaccine resulted in a "robust" immune response in the 45 patients participating in its early stage human trial. The patients, divided into groups of 15, received doses of 25, 100, or 250 micrograms of the drug, and after two vaccinations all of them had produced neutralizing antibodies, according to data published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine. Moderna shares jumped by 16 percent in after-hour trading on the news. Other stocks particularly sensitive to the lifting of coronavirus lockdown measures, including American and United airlines, and Royal Caribbean Cruise all gained more than 4 percent. U.S. stock index futures also rose before the start of trading Wednesday.


2. U.K. bars use of Huawei gear in 5G networks

The United Kingdom announced Tuesday that it was banning the use of Chinese tech giant Huawei's equipment in 5G wireless networks. The British government also plans to push home-internet providers to stop buying Huawei products. The U.K. government said the measures were "taken today in a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by the prime minister," Boris Johnson. U.K. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said in the announcement that the move was influenced by U.S. sanctions imposed against Huawei in May. The Trump administration and other Huawei critics say that due to Huawei's close ties with the Chinese government, its gear could be used to spy or disrupt telecommunications networks for Beijing. The company has forcefully denied the allegations.

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3. Apple wins appeal of EU demand for $14.9 billion in back taxes

Apple on Wednesday won its appeal in the European Union's second highest court of an order to pay $14.9 billion in Irish taxes. The European Commission ordered the iPhone maker to pay the back taxes in 2016, arguing that the Irish government had allowed Apple to avoid taxes by shifting earnings to an Irish head office that existed only on paper. The EU's General Court annulled the decision because it said the commission failed to prove that Apple had broken EU competition regulations. "This case was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it," Apple said in a statement. "We're proud to be the largest taxpayer in the world as we know the important role tax payments play in society."


4. Biden unveils $2 trillion climate plan

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled a proposed $2 trillion plan to rebuild cities and towns across the country by investing in clean energy. The former vice president criticized President Trump for promising a major infrastructure plan during his 2016 campaign, but failing to deliver. "He's never delivered. He's never even really tried," Biden said. "I know how to get it done." Biden dropped a proposal to make the U.S. economy 100 percent clean-energy based by 2050, and instead backed cutting the country's carbon footprint in half by 2035. The plan was released a week after a task force jointly created by Biden and progress primary-season rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed eliminating carbon emissions from power plants by 2035.

NBC News

5. Trump signs law imposing sanctions on China over Hong Kong security law

President Trump said Tuesday he had signed legislation imposing sanctions against China over a new security law eroding Hong Kong's autonomy. Trump also signed an executive order ending Hong Kong's special trade status. "Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. "No special privileges, no special economic treatment, and no export of sensitive technologies." The Hong Kong Autonomy Act includes mandatory sanctions on Chinese officials and companies involved in enforcing the security law, which paved the way for a crackdown on criticism of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong. The former British colony has been semi-autonomous under a "one country, two systems" policy since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.