Afternoon Coffee: AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine cheaper, less supply chain hassle; Potential COVID-19 baby bust; Amazon encourages holiday shoppers to pick up orders

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In more COVID-19 vaccine news, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its vaccine was up to 90% effective, with the average being around 70%, according to the Associated Press.

This is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential vaccine that the world has anxiously waited on. Pfizer and Moderna reported last week that their vaccines were almost 95% effective.

However, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored in temperatures below zero, making it easier to distribute, the article reported. AstraZeneca’s vaccine will also be cheaper. The company said it is not competing with other drug brands, rather companies will need to work together to do wide vaccination efforts.

“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, a chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”

A potential COVID-19 baby bust is having companies rework their baby products to fit new demands

Projections find that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to hundreds of thousands of fewer births in the coming months, which could spell trouble for makers of infant products, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A think tank forecasted 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in the US next year. This coincides with a larger trend of declining birth rates in the US and other countries. Although, parents who do have children spend more money on them, the article reported, which has led key companies in baby markets to reconfigure their products.

Nestlé, for example, launched an upscale infant milk powder brand. Procter & Gamble, which owns Pampers, is developing more sophisticated products that justify higher prices, like diapers that use tape or fit like pants. Kimberly-Clark Corp. introduced new diapers made from plant-based materials that costs roughly five times more than the cheapest diapers, the article reported.

“I don’t have a great view right now at this point of the long-term effects of COVID-19,” Kimberly-Clark CEO Michael Hsu said on an investor call last month, the WSJ said. “There’s all different kinds of projections, including baby boom, because there’s less to do.”

Amazon worries about last-mile delivery this holiday season, encourages shoppers to pick up their orders

Amazon encouraged its holiday shoppers to get their orders delivered to its retail locations, helping save the company crucial last-mile delivery capacity, according to CNBC.

The online retailer is facing a potential logistics nightmare fueled by record online shopping this year. The company said Monday that Amazon shoppers nationwide will be able to get their gifts delivered to one of its physical bookstores or an Amazon Hub location. It will also institute an “Amazon Day” delivery option, where consumers can pick a day of the week to receive all their orders. Amazon hopes to cut down its last-mile deliveries, which is an especially labor-intensive and expensive process, the article said.

For months, large shippers like FedEx and UPS have been warning of capacity shortfalls, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted online shopping. With the holiday peak, many are expecting shippers to struggle to keep up. Online sales this holiday season are expected to spike 33% year-over-year to a record $189 billion, the article said.

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