AstraZeneca back in the game, US-India defense, audio IKEA catalog

Trollies are seen outside an IKEA store in Wembley, north London January 28, 2015. IKEA Group, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, posted on Wednesday a…
Trollies are seen outside an IKEA store in Wembley, north London January 28, 2015. IKEA Group, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, posted on Wednesday a…
Image: Reuters/Neil Hall

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US is sending AstraZeneca doses to Canada and Mexico. The vaccine is not authorized by American regulators, and millions of shots are awaiting distribution. Meanwhile, European countries resumed their rollouts of the jab.

The US and China clashed. As expected, top diplomats from both sides exchanged sharp criticisms of each other’s policies at tense in-person talks in Alaska.

The National Football League signed huge TV deals. Starting in 2023, more than $100 billion will flow into the NFL over 11 years from CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, and Amazon, doubling its previous contracts.

Lyft is back in action. The ride-share service reported its highest volume of riders in a single week since the beginning of the pandemic.

Customers are kept waiting for Nike shoes. Its third-quarter sales in North America dropped 10.4% due to a global shortage of containers, and congestion at US ports.

Lamborghini reported record profits in 2020. Demand for the Italian supercars remained high in the US and China, despite the pandemic.

Want an Oscar? You’d better turn up. Academy award organizers told nominees that Zoom acceptances will be unacceptable.

What to watch for

US defense secretary Lloyd Austin visits India from March 19-21, the first Biden cabinet official to go these as the administration seeks alliances to counter China. The main item on his agenda: furthering defense ties between the world’s two largest democracies—an increasingly important part of bilateral relations that have transcended party politics.

Ananya Bhattacharya offers a brief history of the US-India defense relationship:

2005: The two countries sign a 10-year defense equipment deal, extended for another 10 years in 2015. Also that year, the US began tacitly recognizing India as a nuclear power.

2012: The Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) is established, creating opportunities for US-India co-production and co-development (pdf).

2014: President Barack Obama and prime minister Manmohan Singh endorse the India-US Declaration on Defense Cooperation, bolstering a long-term strategic partnership.

2018: India is allowed to purchase US advanced technology in the civil space and defense sectors.

2020: The US gives India access to classified geo-spatial data and critical information with significant military applications. Also in 2020, India buys $3.4 billion in arms from the US, a sharp rise from $6.2 million the previous year.

There are a couple points of contention to keep an eye out for during these talks: India’s plan to purchase the S-400 Air Defense System from Russia, and its struggle with human rights issues.

Charting poverty around the world

South Asia has felt the economic effects of Covid-19 more than any other world region, with India specifically now contributing to 60% of the global rise in poverty during the pandemic.

A chart showing the effect of the pandemic on poverty in different world regions.

Compared to pre-pandemic estimates, too, India seems to have performed worse on income parameters than expected. Added to that, the number of poor was expected to be at 59 million, and now stands at 134 million, according to the Pew Research Center. This significantly reverses the momentum India had achieved in eradicating poverty over the past decade, Manavi Kapur explains.

Space SPAC lessons learned

We’re a 30-year overnight success story.

—Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium

More than a decade before today’s surge of space SPACs, one satellite company proved that a merger with a blank check company can indeed succeed. That firm is Iridium, the satellite telecom valued at more than $5 billion.

Iridium emerged from its turn-of-the-century bankruptcy as a private company, needing between $1 billion and $2 billion of new capital to replace its satellite constellation, a project it would complete in 2019. The day Desch decided to choose between SPAC offers was the same day Lehman Brothers went under, and things began to seem less rosy. Tim Fernholz goes deeper into what space businesses can learn from Iridium about partnering with blank-check companies.

✦ Tim has always got his eye—though a powerful telescope of course—on the business of space. Try out a membership for a week, and see how you like being freed from the gravity of paywalls.

If you’re not ready to leave Earth quite yet, consider signing up for Tim’s free weekly email, Space Business.

You asked about AstraZeneca

I’ve been following Europe’s reluctance to use the AstraZeneca vaccine. Should we be worried?

The European drugs regulator and World Health Organization have approved and repeatedly endorsed the jab, after reports of a very small number of people developing blood clots at some point after receiving the vaccine. Though, to be clear, scientists don’t yet have data directly connecting these clots to the vaccine itself, and the temporary suspension of rollouts was always a precaution.

Annalisa Merelli rounded up the weirdest supposed side effects reported by people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is clear that not only are people reporting all sorts of conditions they experience after taking the vaccine, including the ones that could never be caused by the vaccine, but that scientists are diligently keeping a record of it. This is why the vaccine got suspended, even if it is likely safe.

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⛪️ The most unique places in the world to get a Covid-19 vaccine

Surprising discoveries

IKEA’s catalog is going audio. After its cancellation in 2020, it will return as an audiobook that’s actually a fairly good listen.

A Chinese reporter moved up the ladder of a corrupt used car company. He made so much money doing undercover reporting his bosses were worried he’d quit his real job.

Redditors adopted a lot of gorillas. WallStreetBets also donated more than $350,000 to a charity protecting the endangered animals.

Want to airlift a black rhino? Research says you should transport them upside down—and not just because it looks funny.

People in Taiwan are changing their names to Salmon. They really want free sushi.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, name change ideas, and unusual side job 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 Hasit Shah, Jane Li, Tripti Lahiri, Katherine Ellen Foley, Jordan Lebeau, and Susan Howson.