Moderna may be behind Pfizer with regard to being the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive some kind of approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in infected patients, but it’s only by 7 days.

At least that’s what we’re being told by the FDA, who have endorsed – NOT approved – the vaccine from Moderna as safe and effective. The actual approval is set to take place on Thursday afternoon during one final meeting.

The Financial Times reports on the main highlights from the FDA report released yesterday, which echoes some of the claims made by Moderna while adding in their own insights:

“The two-dose vaccination regimen was highly effective in preventing PCR-confirmed COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after receipt of the second dose.

After both jabs, the vaccine was 94.1% effective in a trial of about 30,000 participants. The vaccine was less effective in people over the age of 65, with an efficacy rate of 86.4%. There were 30 severe cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group but none in the vaccinated group. There were no deaths from COVID-19 in either group.

Immunity starts about 10 days after the first of two injections.

Moderna’s vaccine may also be the first to show some impact on asymptomatic infections, according to a document submitted by the company after its original application… just 14 people who received the vaccine during a clinical trial tested positive for COVID-19 but did not show symptoms, compared with 38 participants who only received a placebo.

there were no specific safety concerns that should prevent an EUA. But [the FDA] said there is not enough evidence for how the vaccine works in under-18s and pregnant and breastfeeding women, who were not included in the trials.

Three vaccinated participants experienced Bell’s palsy, a weakness of muscles in the face, compared with one in the placebo group… The scientists cannot draw a causal link between the vaccine and the condition.”

Interesting stuff! Seems as if we’re getting a Pfizer 2.0 more than anything else, but with some very slight differences. Same sh*t, different toilet.

While I applaud Moderna in getting a vaccine for developed and approved by the FDA within record time (unless a freak accident happens by Thursday), I’m still holding my breath for the long-term side effects.

Just think about it this way: For a vaccine, the FDA standard involves submitting six months’ worth of safety data. Both pharmaceutical companies are getting away with submitting just two months’ of data.

They’d better hope their vaccine doesn’t cause any adverse effects in the elderly and the diseased, the first ones to get a two-dose treatment, otherwise they will NEVER recover from a setback like this.

Do YOU think Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine will get emergency use approval from the FDA on Thursday? Reply to this newsletter and let us know!

What’s Better Than One COVID-19 Vaccine? Two Vaccines Combined Together!

You would think that the story I’m about to present you comes straight out of The National Enquirer or some tabloid writing overly sensational headlines.

But this one comes out of Forbes and it’s the real deal: The Gamaleya Institute (Russia) and AstraZeneca (Oxford) are planning to combine their COVID-19 vaccines into a single one-shot treatment. This is going all the way to clinical trials, to see if the Russian “Sputnik V” vaccine makes AstraZeneca’s vaccine more effective than using it in isolation.

More from Forbes:

“AstraZeneca announced Friday that it will begin enrolling volunteers into clinical trials to determine whether its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed with the University of Oxford, will work better when combined with Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is already being deployed in Russia.

The partnership with AstraZeneca will be seen as tacit approval of the Russian vaccine, which has not been widely accepted outside of the country owing to a lack of data that many scientists and officials find concerning.”

Um… good luck, I guess? I’m not going to lie, this one made me do a double take because it sounds like a science fiction story. But hey, if it works, who am I to judge?

A Surprising Number of Black Americans DO NOT Want the COVID-19 Vaccine!

As the COVID-19 vaccines are imminently rolled out to the public, those surveys about the willingness to take them are about to become a lot more relevant. What was once a “what if” scenario is now a “when it inevitably happens” circumstance.

Which begs the question: Is there a difference between minorities when it comes to their stance on vaccines? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Undefeated, Black Americans DO NOT feel comfortable with taking the vaccine:

  • If the COVID-19 vaccine was free to get and determined to be safe, 27% of Black Americans would “definitely not” get it (22% said “probably not”).
  • When Black Americans were asked about their #1 reason for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, 39% said “safety concerns” and 35% said “lack of trust”.
  • Regarding confidence about the vaccine being thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness, 34% said “not too confident” and 26% said “not at all confident”.
  • Will the vaccine be distributed fairly? 34% of Black Americans are “not too confident” and 33% are “not at all confident”.

Really makes you sit down and wonder why a growing distrust among Black Americans is much larger than with any other race surveyed! Perhaps they know something about vaccines that we don’t.

It’s not as if they were cruelly isolated and forced to become the subjects of unethical medical experiments in the 20th century (sarcasm)…

Federal Trade Commission Makes a HUGE Move Against Social Media Giants

What do big tech platforms ultimately thrive on and make profit from? Taking your personal data, analyzing it down to the very letter, and then selling it to third-party advertisers who can deliver hyper-targeted ads right to your Internet browser.

Now, it looks as if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is curious as to how this data is collected, and the ways in which these platforms have a negative effect on teens and children who use them. More specifically, according to MarketWatch:

“With its new request, the FTC wants to know how social media and video streaming services collect, use and track consumers’ personal and demographic information, how they decide which ads and other content are shown to consumers, whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information, how they measure and promote user engagement and how their practices affect children and teens.”

The companies who are being ordered to hand over this valuable information include: Reddit, Discord, WhatsApp, Facebook, Amazon, Bytedance (owner of TikTok), YouTube, Google, and SnapChat.  

I’m curious to know: Do YOU think it’s about time these big tech companies spill the secret sauce? What do you think this investigation will uncover? Reply to this newsletter and share your predictions with us!

Permanent Shutdown Looks Likely for 48% of Small Businesses in America…

Not a day has gone by in 2020 where we don’t hear about the demise of yet another small business in America that was successful and on track for growth before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new survey from Alignable shows that almost half of American small businesses fear the real possibility of permanent shutdown in the near future. Nearly 9,200 small business owners were interviewed and 48% fear shutting down for good by the end of 2020, up from 42% when the survey was conducted sixty days ago.

This is especially concerning when you consider that many cities and states are beginning to impose stricter lockdown measures. Businesses will be even more limited in the ways they can make money and the extent to which they can do so.

Clientele are being slashed by 50%. Crowds have become ghosts of the past. Shoplifting is on the rise at a rate never before seen.

And none of it was the fault of these owners or any bad business practice. The blame is 100% on the politicians who happily enforced restrictions while being privileged enough to break their own rules whenever they feel it is convenient for them to do so…

A Highly Profitable Dividend Stock Worth Investing Into?

Let’s close out today’s newsletter with some more optimistic news, and something which doesn’t have to do with COVID-19 vaccines or government shutdowns.

Good dividend stocks are incredibly rare to come by. Not only do you want a good quarterly or yearly payout for every share you invest into, but you also want that payout to be consistent across several years.

The Motley Fool writes about one dividend which is poised to become a “must have” for any dividend investor, urging readers to get in while share prices are low. The company name is Ameriprise Financial and the recommendation is backed up by several key numbers:

  • Consistent dividend increases every year for the past 14 years
  • Their current quarterly dividend is $1.04 per share ($1,040/year from 250 shares)
  • The dividend has increased by 55% since 2015
  • Yield is 2.16%, which is higher than most stocks in the S&P 500
  • Payout ratio is 29.8% (the percentage of net earnings which go into dividend payouts), not too high to the point where the company isn’t properly managing their finances
  • The company has $2.8 billion in liquidity and $1.7 billion in excess capital
  • Their stock is up 15% to date, which projects for double-digit growth of earnings in 2021

This looks like a very solid profile for the company. I’m not necessarily saying you should buy this stock, but these are the positive numbers you definitely want to see in any potential dividend investment.

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