Omicron reinforcements are just around the corner

The first updated coronavirus vaccines will be available as soon as the week after Labor Day. These will target the dominant strain of COVID-19 circulating in the US, hoping to provide better protection than the vaccines we have now.

  • Furthermore, the world’s leading economic experts say that volatility is here to stay.
  • And, women’s sports are commanding bigger rights deals than ever.

Guests: Adriel Bettelheim, Neil Irwin and Sara Fischer from Axios.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Erica Pandey, Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Alex Sugiura and Ben O’Brien. The music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can send questions, comments, and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice message at 202-918-4893.

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ERICA PANDEY: Good morning! Welcome to Axios today! It’s Monday, August 29. I’m Erica Pandey, instead of Niala Boodhoo. Here’s what you need to know today: The country’s top economic experts say volatility is here to stay. In addition, women’s sports are at the helm of bigger rights deals than ever before. But first, Omicron’s reinforcements are just around the corner. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

Omicron reinforcements arrive

The first updated coronavirus vaccines will soon be available in the US. They will target the dominant strain of COVID 19 that is circulating, hoping to provide better protection than the vaccines we have now. Axios Senior Healthcare Editor Adriel Bettelheim has the details. Hi Adrian.

ADRIEL: Hi, nice to be with you.

ERICA: So, Adriel, what makes these new vaccines different from what we’ve already seen?

ADRIEL: Well, the incumbent manufacturers, uh, Moderna and Pfizer, have adapted them to specifically target the Omicron sub-variants, BA four and BA five, which account for the majority of cases in the United States. The original vaccines, which worked very well against hospitalization and death early in the pandemic, don’t do a good job against omicron simply because the virus has evolved, and that’s where the US pandemic response is now. emphasizing speed to keep up with the changing virus.

ERICA: So let’s get into logistics here: when and how will these vaccines be available?

ADRIEL: We’re looking forward to some kind of big week. We believe the FDA will issue an emergency authorization to both Pfizer and Moderna for people 12 and older this week. And the CDC, its outside vaccine advisers, will also meet Thursday and Friday to review how the vaccine should work. Also, the federal health department, HHS, is having a meeting about the future of COVID at a time when the government will not foot the bill for vaccines and other countermeasures. That will be interesting, because eventually, insurers and other health providers will have to pay for this.

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ERICA: Will they be for everyone? Will the nation’s coronavirus authorities encourage us all to go get this?

ADRIEL: I think they’re going to encourage those who are vulnerable, older people, to keep up with the reinforcements. And you know, it’s going to be interesting because they’re skipping some of the regulatory steps, because they’re relying on the mRNA injections and how they performed earlier in the pandemic. So the question here is, you know, are you keeping up with the goal of keeping up with the mutations of the virus? Some people worry that this approach risks dampening the enthusiasm for the shot, but, hey, the indications are that this should work. You know, time will tell.

ERICA: And stepping back a bit, Adriel, we’ve seen this virus mutate in front of our eyes. Will we see this type of COVID vaccine updated regularly?

ADRIEL: There’s a lot of research and a lot of speculation about how they’re going to do this in the future. Uh, whether they’re bringing COVID to the flu shots, you know, right now they’ve moved really fast, uh, they were supposed to deliver these shots, uh, October and November. And now, presumably, they will launch before mid-September, shortly after Labor Day. But, I think in the long term, a lot of the public health authorities that we talked to want this to become an annual thing, like the flu shot possibly along with flu shots and other respiratory illnesses.

ERICA: Axios Adriel Bettelheim. Thank you for your experience.

ADRIEL: Thank you very much.

Economic volatility is here to stay

ERICA: The economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming ended this weekend. That’s the gathering where every August, some of the world’s top central bankers, economic policymakers and thinkers gather to discuss the global economic issues of the day. Neil Irwin from Axios was there and sent us this dispatch of his best takeaways.

NEIL IRWIN: This year we heard some things that are really worth taking away for everyone who is just trying to live their lives in the modern economy. The first theme I heard over and over again was that inflation is too high and central bankers will do whatever it takes to try to bring it down. We first heard it in a speech by Jay Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, on Friday morning. And, uh, we hear it over and over again from the European Central Bank, other central bankers there: They see this as a crisis. They see this as something that they will do whatever it takes to prevent high inflation from taking hold, from becoming a new normal. So that’s a big issue that means higher interest rates in the future.

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The other big theme that we heard was the idea that this volatility that we’ve seen in the economy in the last couple of years, with the pandemic, with supply disruptions, with the war in Ukraine, may not be just a weather phenomenon. That we may be in a world where we’re going to continue to get shocks like this, that really affect everyone, that disrupt, uh, trade, in a way that we’re not used to in the last few decades. And if that were the case, that’s a big deal. And that really has big implications for how you can plan for what the economy looks like in the coming decades. Those are the two things we heard a lot from the policymakers gathered in Jackson Hole: It was a great meeting and, really, an important moment for the world economy.

ERICA: Neil Irwin is the chief economics correspondent for Axios.

In a moment: Record viewership for women’s sports means big money behind the scenes.

Women’s sports are at the helm of bigger rights deals

Welcome back to Axios today! I’m Erica Pandey, instead of Niala Boodhoo.

The WNBA playoffs are underway, and these days, women’s sports like basketball and soccer have ever larger audiences. Take for example last month’s UEFA Women’s Football Championship, which broke a record with more than 87,000 in attendance. And that, too, is translating into record ad dollars.

Axios’ Sara Fischer has been tracking this, and sat down with Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo to find out more.


SARA FISCHER: Hey, left.

NIALA: Sarah, this is mostly basketball and soccer. So can we talk about numbers? Can you put that 87,000 in context for us compared to men’s soccer?

SARA: Well, that 87,000 didn’t just break the women’s record. He also broke the men’s record for UEFA championships. That gives you an idea of ​​how big it has become in Europe. And in the US, obviously, there have been big milestones for women’s soccer. You know, the fight for equal pay was a big win earlier this year. That’s bringing in record amounts of fandom and viewership.

Basketball is another place where we are seeing great milestones. Earlier this year, ESPN said that the NCAA basketball championship was already one of the highest, I think since 2004, in terms of ratings and that women’s sports coverage in general on ESPN was very, very high. . But the fandom in 2011, for example, ESPN’s last contract, just wasn’t that big. However, I think the challenge is that a lot of these contracts to broadcast these sports were negotiated a long time ago, so the rights deals weren’t that big. I think in the future they will explode.

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NIALA: Can you give us an idea of ​​how much these rights deals matter in terms of money when it comes to sports?

SARA: I mean, there’s a huge disparity between men’s and women’s sports. So let me give you an example. That 11-year deal that ESPN signed in 2011. So it expires, I think 2023. As part of that deal, ESPN paid $34 million to be able to broadcast, not only the NCAA women’s basketball championship sports, but also 28 other sports. There was an independent audit that the NCAA commissioned to understand, okay, are we missing the real value of women’s basketball here? And what that audit found is that, in reality, women’s basketball alone should probably command more than $112 million in rights. And then think about that Delta, Niala. 34 million is what is paid now for women’s sports. It goes to show that women’s sport has been undervalued. Women have been underpaid in sports for so long, but it seems the tide is starting to turn.

NIALA: And what does that say then about the growth of not just women’s sports, but how much does that translate into ad dollars?

SARA: It is a great opportunity for brands. Disney said earlier this year that they sold their ad dollars for the NCAA women’s champions that air on ESPN channels. And brands care because brands have audiences that bias both men and women, right? It’s also important because I think the public now cares about women’s sports in a different way. It used to be that women’s sports got a lot of attention for things like gymnastics or tennis. But now there are audiences for sports that were traditionally perceived as basically male like basketball, like soccer. Now that these sports are getting bigger and more commercialized, there’s a lot of athletes that young women can see on TV, that they can look up to, that they can aspire to, and that’s a really amazing opportunity, not just for the sports industry, but for the United States.

NIALA: Sarah Fisher covers media for Axios and is the author of our media trends newsletter. Thank you Sara.

SARA: Thank you, Niala.

ERICA: That’s all we have for you today! I’m Erica Pandey instead of Niala Boodhoo. Thanks for listening. Stay safe and see you here tomorrow morning.