- PFIZER:-Pfizer and BioNTech are set to displace AstraZeneca as the main suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX programme at the start of 2022, a shift that shows the increasing importance of their shot for poorer states.
The expected change comes with headaches for receiving countries that lack sufficient cold storage capacity to handle the Pfizer vaccine and amid risks of a shortage of syringes needed to administer that shot.
AstraZeneca is currently the most distributed vaccine by COVAX, according to data from Gavi, the vaccine alliance that co-manages the programme with the World Health Organization (WHO).
The programme has so far delivered more than 600 million shots to nearly 150 countries, of which more than 220 million are AstraZeneca’s and about 160 million Pfizer’s.
- UBER: Uber Technologies Inc is looking to sell stakes in non-strategic assets including its holding in Beijing-based Didi Global Inc, its CEO said on Tuesday, who also described the China market as a tough one with little transparency.
The U.S. firm pulled out of China in 2016 after burning through more than a billion dollars a year due to a price war with Didi. It eventually sold its China operations to Didi in exchange for a stake.
Uber owns 12.8% of Didi, according to a filing in June by Didi.
“Our Didi stake we don’t believe is strategic. They’re a competitor, China is a pretty difficult environment with very little transparency,” Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said at a virtual fireside chat with a UBS analyst.
Khosrowshahi said the company was in no rush to sell the shares. “Those kinds of stakes we look to monetize smartly over time.”
He said many of the companies in which Uber has a stake have recently gone public and are still subject to a lockup period – when investors at the time of listing cannot sell stock – adding Uber would continue to hold some stakes for strategic reasons.
Didi did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Uber shares rose 4.3% to close at $37.26 after Khosrowshahi’s remarks on Tuesday. He also said Uber last week had its best week ever in terms of company-wide gross bookings at its ride-hail and food delivery operations.
But overall, ride-hail trips remained around 10% below pre-pandemic levels, the CEO said.
Uber had roughly $13.1 billion tied up in investments in other companies as of the end of the third quarter, including $4.1 billion in Didi.
Some investors have grown concerned that Uber holding on to these investments sends a signal to the market that stakes in other companies are more attractive than putting freed-up capital into Uber’s own operations.
- GOOGLE:-Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said on Tuesday it has fixed an issue that caused thousands of users to lose access to its platform or face slow services.
Downdetector, which showed there were more than 15,000 incidents of people reporting issues with YouTube, tracks outages by collating status reports from a number of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform.
“If you were having a slower than normal experience or were having trouble accessing YouTube earlier today – this has been fixed! The issue ran for about 20 mins,” YouTube tweeted.
A major outage disrupted Amazon’s cloud services for several hours last week that resulted in Netflix, Disney+, Robinhood and a slew of other services being inaccessible, including Amazon’s e-commerce website.
YouTube experienced 65 outages over the past 12 months, according to the web tool reviewing website ToolTester.
- YUM: A long queue of patrons running out the door of nearly every KFC has been a perennial Christmas sight in Japan but COVID-19 social distancing rules that discourage lines and place strict conditions for dining-in are threatening the custom.
This year, KFC Holdings Japan, the domestic licensor of the Yum! Brands Inc franchise is nudging customers to order online and then pick up their chicken at a certain time, rather than forming up in the traditional queues.
The run-up to Christmas is the company’s biggest sales week and it hopes the move will help maintain those revenues, which fell last year from a record and let customers keep a tradition that stretches back to the 1970s.
While only around 1% of Japan’s population is Christian, the holiday’s commercial aspects have been embraced.
Company lore says the Christmas campaign was inspired by foreign customers in Japan who lamented that they could not find turkey during the holidays. The first “Kentucky for Christmas” promotion started in 1974, marketed towards couples and including a bucket of chicken along with a bottle of wine.
KFC Japan has moved up the start of the campaign this year and offered price incentives for early birds to comply with the COVID-19 rules.
- JP MORGAN:-JPMorgan Chase & Co instructed unvaccinated staff in Manhattan to work from home starting Tuesday, a further sign that banks and other financial firms are tightening protocols as COVID-19 infections rise and the Omicron variant spreads.
The U.S. bank, one of the most aggressive in bringing employees back to the office, previously allowed unvaccinated staff to work in its Manhattan offices provided they were tested twice a week.
In a memo to staff on Monday announcing the policy change, the bank urged unvaccinated staff to get vaccinated and for eligible employees to get booster shots. It also relaxed mask requirements for vaccinated staff working in its Manhattan offices.
“We continue to agree with health authorities that being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe – especially as we face the winter months and a new variant – so please consider getting vaccinated if you aren’t already, and getting your booster if you are,” the memo said.
Most other banks already required staff to be vaccinated to enter their facilities.
Bank of America has around 60% to 70% of staff back in the office, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said in an interview with CNBC Tuesday.
“We focused on getting our teammates safe and vaccinated and back to work when they were ready,” he said. “We didn’t want people to operate in a hamstrung environment.”
U.S. financial firms have been more proactive than other industries in encouraging employees to return to offices. But the recent surge in cases has caused some to rethink their strategies.