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The daily business briefing: April 1, 2021

1.

Delta, Coca Cola, and JPMorgan Chase are leading a growing number of major companies condemning Georgia’s new voting law, which restricts absentee ballots and gives the state legislature more power over local elections boards, among other measures. Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Wednesday the company is against anything that makes it harder for people to vote. Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in an internal memo that the provisions “will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong.” Like Delta, Coca-Cola is based in Georgia, and the company’s CEO, James Quincey, said the law was “unacceptable.” The statements came days after Black clergy members threatened boycotts against companies remaining silent about the law pushed through by Republicans after their losses in Georgia’s presidential and Senate votes. [CBS News]

2.

President Biden on Wednesday unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure, jobs, and green energy plan that is intended to be the first phase of his “Build Back Batter” economic agenda. In a speech in Pittsburgh, Biden called the proposal “a once-in-a-generation investment in America.” It includes billions for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, rail lines, and utilities. The plan also aims to ensure every American has access to high-speed broadband Internet. Biden is proposing tax hikes on businesses to pay for the plan, something Republicans oppose. “It’s like a Trojan horse,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, that Democrats want to use to sneak in “more borrowing and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.” [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

3.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 100 percent efficacy among adolescents aged 12 to 15 in a phase 3 study. The vaccine also demonstrated “robust antibody responses, exceeding those recorded earlier in vaccinated participants aged 16 to 25 years old, and was well tolerated.” This trial consisted of 2,260 adolescents between 12 and 15, and there were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group but none in the group that was vaccinated. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said the initial results suggests “children are particularly well protected by vaccination,” which he called “very encouraging” news, and the companies plan to submit this data to the FDA with “the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year.” [The New York Times, Pfizer]

4.

U.S. stock index futures rose early Thursday following President Biden’s unveiling of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which Biden says will create jobs and boost the economy. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by nearly 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. Biden’s proposal to rebuild roads, bridges, rail lines, and other infrastructure came less than three weeks after he signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The Dow fell by 0.3 percent on Thursday but closed March up by more than 6 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose by 0.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. [CNBC]

5.

A batch of millions of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine doses was ruined in a manufacturing mix-up, federal officials confirmed Wednesday. The coronavirus vaccine was contaminated by ingredients from another AstraZeneca vaccine at a Baltimore plant operated by Emergent, a company not yet certified by the Food and Drug Administration to produce Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson & Johnson said it still would be able to deliver the 20 million doses it has promised the government by Wednesday. It also said it was on track to deliver 24 million more before the end of April. No contaminated vaccine left the plant. “We are going to make sure that we understand what happened,” said a health official. “We have to work through and find out what is going on.” [The Washington Post]

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