Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of November 16, 2020:
Vaccine nation. Biotech firm Moderna announced Monday, November 16 that a large-scale test involving its coronavirus vaccine proved 95% effective. The news follows pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s announcement last week that its coronavirus vaccine, which it developed with a company called BioNTech, appeared to protect 90% of 40,000 trial participants. The company is seeking emergency approval for its vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer reportedly expects to deliver enough doses of the vaccine, which requires two doses, for 25 million people by the end of 2020. Moderna and Pfizer’s treatments are called messenger RNA vaccines (mRNA), which means that they’re made from the mRNA of the virus, which researchers hope will stimulate antibodies to protect against the virus. A vaccine made from mRNA has never been approved for use in humans.
- The takeaway: Moderna and Pfizer’s good news may be dampened by delivery problems. Both vaccines need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures, meaning they need to be transported carefully with freezers or dry ice packs. However, Moderna and Pfizer’s news could also mean more good results are soon to come from 10 other late-stage vaccines, and more than 50 in early stage tests. In addition to Moderna and Pfizer, companies including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are also testing vaccines. More than 53 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, which has killed approximately 1.2 million.
Burrito bowl from home. Chipotle opened its first digital-only location last week, called the Chipotle Digital Kitchen, in Highland, New York. The chain’s new location, which will only handle pickup and delivery orders, is located near the military school West Point. Chipotle is reportedly testing these smaller stores in urban areas where real estate prices are more expensive. Customers who want to order from this location will only be able to do so via the Chipotle website or app, or through third-party delivery services like Seamless and Uber Eats.
- The takeaway: Chipotle is one of several restaurant chains moving towards digital options this year as more people stay home and order pick-up or delivery food because of Covid-19. Chipotle’s online sales have reportedly tripled in 2020. Other chains, including Starbucks and Chili’s, have also decided to open digital-only locations as the pandemic continues.
Apple’s big Intel breakup. Apple announced the launch of three new laptops last week that will use an Apple-manufactured processor called an M1 chip. The computers will no longer use chips manufactured by Intel, which Apple has used for processors since 2005. Apple currently makes the chips used in its iPhones, iPads, and iWatches. Apple reportedly said that over the next two years, it will replace all the processors in its computers with its M1, which it claims has three times more performance power per watt than Intel chips.
- The takeaway: This latest innovation from Apple appears to show the tech giant’s growing independence from Intel. With the addition of self-manufactured chips, Apple will now make almost all of the hardware and the software that it uses in its product lineup. Some industry experts have said that Apple’s decision to make its own chips could inspire more tech companies to follow the iPhone maker’s lead, potentially denting Intel’s sales.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.