Afternoon Coffee: US economy shrinks in 2020; Ivalua NOW events to be virtual this spring; Vaccine vials create demand for special syringe

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Facing incredible disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, the US economy grew at a 4% annual rate in the last three quarters of 2020, but that wasn't enough to overcome the Covid problems in the first quarter. For 2020, the economy shrank 3.5% — the greatest amount in 74 years, according to the Associated Press.

The Commerce Department estimated on Thursday that the nation’s gross domestic product also slowed sharply in the October-December quarter.

The report showed that consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, slowed to a 2.5% annual gain last quarter compared to the 41% surge in the July-September quarter. The October-December quarter was driven in part by business investment and housing, the article reported.

The pandemic’s blow to the economy in early spring ended the longest US economic expansion on record — nearly 11 years, the article said. GDP from January-March contracted 5% last year. Since then, thousands of businesses closed, and nearly 10 million people remain out of work.

Ivalua NOW to take place virtually this spring

Ivalua is set to host its signature Ivalua NOW 2021 event virtually this spring.

Ivalua NOW is an event for procurement and supply chain leaders looking for growth and innovation in their organizations while achieving CSR and other strategic objectives. The event will provide tips for leaders and professionals to empower organizations with agility and resiliency to deliver value.

People working in procurement, supply chain and finance roles — leadership and beyond — are invited to attend the event. The event promises to help attendees innovate their approach to procurement, connect with peers and thought leaders, and accelerate digital transformations.

The event will be held March 23-25 for European professionals and April 27-29 in the Americas. Those interested can visit this link to read about the events and more. 

Coronavirus vaccine vials produce demand for specialized syringes

The US government’s plight to squeeze more doses from the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine vials has introduced a flurry of demand for specialized syringes, which the supplier says exceeds existing capacity, according to Reuters.

Becton Dickinson and Co. scaled up its syringe production months in advance of vaccine rollout, before anyone knew that a niche syringe, known as low dead space, would be needed to get more shots out of the vials. Becton Dickinson’s contract includes limited supply of the niche product.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is shipped in vials initially thought to hold five doses. But low dead space syringes can draw out more, minimizing the amount of vaccine left in the syringe after use. If healthcare workers can extract the sixth dose, it will allow supplies to be stretched 20% further and can be a financial boost for Pfizer, the article said.

Becton Dickinson is trying to manage expectations.

“We are ready to support the US government, but we are trying to make sure everyone understands that those devices are not something we have infinite capacity to produce and bringing up new lines does take time,” Troy Kirkpatrick, Becton Dickinson’s Senior Director of Public Relations, told Reuters.

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