Big vaccine progress, bitcoin influence, moon fish

Pro-democracy activist Lester Shum is taken away by police officers after over 50 Hong Kong activists arrested under security law as crackdown intensifies, in Hong…
Pro-democracy activist Lester Shum is taken away by police officers after over 50 Hong Kong activists arrested under security law as crackdown intensifies, in Hong…
Image: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Two more Chinese vaccines filed for approval at home… A second Sinopharm vaccine and a CanSino Biologics jab showed efficacy of 72% and 69%, respectively, in Phase 3 trials.

…while Johnson & Johnson’s shot is one step closer to approval in the US… Food and Drug Administration scientists said Janssen’s vaccine is safe and effective.

…and Moderna’s ready to test its variant vaccine on humans. The new shot will hopefully be more effective against the variant first identified in South Africa.

Hong Kong revealed its priorities in its new budget. A brand new line item: a HK$8 billion ($1 billion) fund for “safeguarding national security.”

Facebook will spend another $1 billion on news over three years. The pledge comes a week after the platform blocked—then unblocked—news in Australia over payment.

India’s National Stock Exchange went down for nearly four hours. The disruption was blamed on issues with the bourse’s two telecom providers.

The UK won’t boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Prime minister Boris Johnson recognized the need to hold China accountable for genocide in Xinjiang but rejected a lawmaker’s call for a boycott.

What to watch for

Airbnb and DoorDash were some of the hottest IPOs to debut in 2020—and both are scheduled to report their first earnings as a public company today. How will the companies fare when the world finds its new norm?

🏠  Airbnb 🏠

In 2019, Airbnb generated $4.8 billion in revenue. When the pandemic hit, the rental sharing company’s revenue dropped 32% year-over-year to $2.5 billion. Since going public in December, Airbnb’s stock has surged over 200%, fueled by optimism on the rental-sharing company’s prospects in a post-pandemic world. Many will look to Airbnb to see how the hotel industry is recovering, as the leisure sector continues to be one of the hardest hit industries.

🥡 DoorDash 🥡

Meanwhile, in 2019, DoorDash brought in $885 million, and its earnings skyrocketed 226% year-over-year to $1.92 billion in the first nine months of 2020.

Food delivery is thriving—a boon for DoorDash, which currently dominates US food delivery with 56% market share. But like other food delivery companies, it has been unprofitable every year since its founding, and the market is highly saturated. But there’s still a lot of room for growth for food delivery globally.

Charting influencers’ influence on bitcoin

A question that has long bedeviled bitcoin observers is how to value it. Lately its worth has been whatever influential people like Elon Musk and star stock picker Cathie Wood say it is.

A line chart showing bitcoin's price in February. On Jan. 31, it was priced under $35,000. On Feb. 8, Tesla said it bought $1.5 billion of bitcoin and the price rose to over $45,000. It was priced at more than $55,000 on Feb. 21 when Elon Musk said bitcoin prices seem high. On Feb. 23, when the price was under $50,000, Square said it bought $170 million of bitcoin. On Feb. 24, Cathie Wood told Bloomberg she's very positive on bitcoin, and the price was over $50,000.

John Detrixhe writes that bitcoin’s long-term prospects will likely hinge on whether other finance heavyweights agree with their assessments.

Changing attitudes towards government spending

US Republicans are still trying to thwart president Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. But there are key groups who are throwing in their support.

Let’s take it by the digits:

150+: Number of leaders of major US corporations who signed an open letter urging Congress to pass a relief bill “along the lines” of what the White House proposes

330+: Number of small business leaders who signed a similar open letter

$1,400: Amount of checks eligible Americans would receive

$15: Hourly minimum wage the bill also intends to set

59%: Share of Americans who said they approve of the package, in a recent survey for the New York Times

43%: Share of surveyed Republicans who support the package. And this change of heart toward government spending among conservatives is not a US-only phenomenon…

49%: Share of Britons who want public spending to remain high post-pandemic, according to a survey for Sky

54%: Share of Europeans who want the EU to have a larger budget to deal with it all

✦ We’re exploring the effects of relief efforts—and a lot more—on the global economy. Try a Quartz membership free for a week and feel the relief that you won’t miss a thing.

Surprising discoveries

Sheep Baarack is seen before his thick wool was shorn in Lancefield, Victoria, Australia February 5, 2021.
That’s a lot of yarn.
Image: Edgar's Mission Inc/Handout via Reuters

A single Australian sheep yielded 35 kg (77 lbs) of wool. Poor Baarack hadn’t been shorn in several years.

A Chinese divorce court put a price on five years of housework. That price is $7,700.

French researchers want to farm fish on the moon. They’ve already proven eggs can survive a rocket launch.

Slime mold remembers. It can store information even without a central nervous system.

Two high schoolers discovered four exoplanets. They orbit a sun-like star, making for good comparison studies with our own solar system.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, extra wool, and knitting needles to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Michelle Cheng, Lila MacLellan, Samanth Subramanian, John Detrixhe, Susan Howson, and Liz Webber.