The daily business briefing: November 23, 2020

Harold Maass
Vaccine from Oxford and AstraZeneca
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images


Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine up to 90 percent effective

Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca announced Monday that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate was at least 70 percent effective in its Phase Three trial of 20,000 volunteers in Britain and Brazil. And Oxford Vaccine Group director Andrew Pollard told BBC Radio 4 Today that the vaccine appeared to be 90 percent effective when people were given a half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose. Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and if U.K. regulators approve it for emergency use, the country is ready to roll out an aggressive immunization program. Rival vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna proved to be 95 percent effective, but 70 percent effectiveness would be really good for a vaccine. The Oxford vaccine also requires only refrigeration, not freezing or subfreezing temperatures like the other vaccines. [BBC News, The Independent]


Rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain Ghosn

A panel of human rights experts said in an opinion published Monday that Japan wrongly detained former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which is working with the United Nations, urged the Japanese government to provide "compensation" and "other reparations" to Ghosn, who fled home detention and flew to Lebanon while awaiting trial on charges of breach of trust and misusing company assets for personal gain. The four-member group found that Ghosn's arrest two years ago was "arbitrary," and it called on the Japanese government to "take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay." Ghosn denies that he did anything wrong. [The Associated Press]


Vaccinations to start immediately after emergency-use approval

The first Americans could receive a COVID-19 vaccine 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency-use approval, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine program, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. The first shots, expected in mid-December, would launch what is expected to be the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history. "Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses," Slaoui said. FDA outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to approve the vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech. Each state will decide who will receive the first doses, with health-care workers, front-line workers, and the elderly recommended to get priority. [Reuters]


Stock futures rise after latest vaccine news

U.S. stock index futures advanced early Monday after fresh good news on the coronavirus vaccine front fueled hopes of an economic rebound in 2021. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.7 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. The gains came after AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced that final phase-three trial results indicated that their coronavirus vaccine candidate was up to 90 percent effective. The news offset concerns of near-term economic damage from a still-mounting fall wave of coronavirus cases that has prompted new restrictions on businesses and gatherings across the country. [The Wall Street Journal, CNBC]


Nevada imposes tighter restrictions on casinos, restaurants

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced new restrictions on gatherings in Las Vegas casinos and other venues on Sunday to combat rising coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. The order cuts occupancy limits in casinos, restaurants, and bars from 50 percent to 25 percent of capacity. Public-gathering restrictions were tightened from a maximum of 250 people to 50 people starting Tuesday. The measures were scheduled to last at least three weeks. Sisolak said the moves were necessary because recent spreading of the virus, including a recent one-day state record of 2,416 new cases, threatened to overwhelm Nevada's health-care system. [The Wall Street Journal]