Vaccines are big business: Moderna reports $5.9 billion in one quarter

Covering COVID-19 is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists, written by senior faculty Al Tompkins. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

COVID-19 vaccines cost Americans nothing out of pocket, but they are hardly free. Moderna just reported its first-quarter earnings, which showed vaccine sales more than tripled over the same period last year.

Moderna expects to sell $21 billion in vaccines this year. Wall Street was impressed: Moderna’s stock soared 7% on the news. The company says it expects to sell a lot of vaccines this fall as people get ready to take a second booster.

Moderna also said it expects to ask the US Food and Drug Administration for approval of an updated version of the vaccine that will offer improved protection against the newest COVID-19 variants. It also has a vaccine in the pipeline that it hopes the FDA will approve next month for children under age 5.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey finds:

  • About one in five parents of children under age 5 (18%) are eager to get their child vaccinated right away.
  • A larger share (38%) say they plan to wait a while to see how the vaccine is working for others.
  • About four in ten parents of children under 5 are more reluctant to get their child vaccinated.
  • 27% say they will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated and 11% say they will only do so if they are required.
  • Just over half of parents of children in this age range say they do not have enough information about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness for children under age 5.

A selection of beef cuts is displayed at a Publix Supermarket, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, at Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

One of the nation’s biggest meatpackers says summer grilling is about to get more expensive. Yahoo reports:

National Beef Co., controlled by the Brazilian giant Marfrig Global Foods, sees relatively stable margins in the next two quarters, according to Tim Klein, who heads Marfrig’s US operations. That means even though their costs to buy cattle are increasing, the company will ultimately be able to pass that on to consumers in the form of pricier steaks and burgers.

“Cattle prices will go up, and beef prices will go up with them,” Klein said during an earnings interview.

The cost of meat has been a focus as consumers grapple with the fastest inflation in four decades. The average price for ground beef in America grocery stores has jumped 18% from a year ago, according to the government data. American shoppers may adapt to inflation by switching to less expensive cuts, according to Klein.

Every month, the US Department of Labor releases something called the JOLTS Report, which is short for Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. It is a calculation of how many people quit their job and yes, there were 11.5 million job openings on March 30. That, as you can see in the government’s chart, is the highest rate of open jobs since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking that stat 22 years ago.

(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The report said:

In March, the number of quits edged up to a series high of 4.5 million (+152,000). The rate was little changed at 3.0 percent. Quits increased in professional and business services (+88,000) and construction (+69,000). The number of quits increased in the South region.

Here is the raw data by region and job.

The Pew Research Center recently asked people why they quit their job.

(Pew Research Center)

Pew found:

  • Majorities of workers who quit a job in 2021 say low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected at work (57%) were reasons why they quit, according to the Feb. 7-13 survey.
  • At least a third say each of these were major reasons why they left.
  • Roughly helped say childcare issues were a reason they quit a job (48% among those with a child younger than 18 in the household).
  • A similar share point to a lack of flexibility to choose when they put in their hours (45%) or not having good benefits such as health insurance and paid time off (43%).
  • Roughly a quarter say each of these was a major reason.
  • About four-in-ten adults who quit a job last year (39%) say a reason was that they were working too many hours, while three-in-ten cite working too few hours.
  • About a third (35%) cite wanting to relocate to a different area, while relatively few (18%) cite their employer requiring a COVID-19 vaccine as a reason.

For the most part, workers who quit a job last year and are now employed somewhere else see their current work situation as an improvement over their most recent job.

At least half of these workers say that compared with their last job, they are now earning more money (56%), have more opportunities for advancement (53%), have an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53%) and have more flexibility to choose when they put in their work hours (50%).

I am seeing stories across the country about how difficult it is to find baby formula. There are a few ingredients to this shortage, including a recall and — let’s say it together — “supply chain problems.” What started as a spotty shortage has turned into a much bigger issue. Stores are limiting purchases to prevent hoarding.

  • Baby formula shortage 2022: What stores are rationing? When will it end? What to know – AL.com
  • What the baby formula shortage tells us about the nation’s priorities – Deseret News
  • As Houston’s baby formula shortage worsens, parents scramble to find food for newborns – Houston Chronicle
  • Baby Formula Shortage Forces Connecticut Mothers to go to the Extreme – NBC Connecticut
  • Baby formula shortages worsen amid recalls, supply chain issues: The shortage has led retailers such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS to limit purchases – Fox Business
  • Baby formula shortage strains families, forces stores to ration – The Washington Post

The Washington Post offers some advice from Brian Dittmeier, the senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association:

Before switching formulas, parents should consult with their child’s health-care provider. Diluting formula, making formula at home or substituting cow’s milk for breast milk is “not nutritionally comparable with breast milk or infant formula,” Dittmeier cautioned, and could cause nutrient deficiencies that can have a “pronounced impact on an infant’s growth and development.”

Parents who are struggling to find formula can contact their local WIC agencies and food banks for help locating it in their communities, Dittmeier said. But tools to track availability haven’t been working well in recent weeks, and “the ripple effects of the shortages across manufacturers and state lines” probably will continue to weigh on families in the near future.

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