India’s crisis, Modi’s Twitter feed, black hole names

A woman is consoled, after her relative died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India, April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Amit…
A woman is consoled, after her relative died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India, April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Amit…
Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

India’s Covid crisis deepens. With travel bans increasing (see below), more than 330,000 coronavirus cases were recorded today, another record total.

Joe Biden pledged dramatic emissions reductions. The US plans a cut of at least 50% by 2030, with other countries also making similar promises at the start of a major climate summit.

Meanwhile, Biden is set to unveil a series of tax rises. To finance childcare and education spending plans in the US, federal tax rates could reach 43.4%.

The chip shortage is forcing European car makers to down tools. Jaguar Land Rover and Daimler are among the companies with idle factories.

The Tokyo Motor Show was canceled. This does not bode well for the Olympics in less than three months, with states of emergency now being imposed across Japan.

A missing Indonesia submarine will run out of oxygen tomorrow. An all-out rescue mission involving several countries is under way to save the crew of 53.

What to watch for

After adding India to its “red list” of countries that are deemed to pose a danger to Britain, the UK ban on Indian travelers starts today.

With Canada, the UAE, and Hong Kong already following suit, Indians are finding themselves increasingly isolated.

In April 2021, it took just weeks for India’s situation to go from bad to catastrophic. On April 22, the country had nearly 315,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily number in any country so far in this pandemic. Meanwhile:

For the latest on India’s crisis—and the rest of the global economy—head to our coronavirus living briefing, our regularly updated guide to the impact of the pandemic.

Charting fashion’s slow European recovery

The dog days of the pandemic appear over for top names in luxury fashion, except those firms located in Europe. Hermès’s European sales were down 4.4% versus last year. LVMH saw a 9% decline , and Kering dipped 34%.

Image for article titled India’s crisis, Modi’s Twitter feed, black hole names

Through the end of March, new cases of Covid-19 spiked in the region, where the rollout of vaccines has been “unacceptably slow,” according to the World Health Organization. Luxury sellers are also still contending with numerous store closures, writes Marc Bain.

Modi’s Twitter feed and India’s Covid paradox

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter feed has been a constant stream of condolences for noted Indians who lost their lives to Covid-19, peppered with excitement over the people in the state of West Bengal exercising their voting rights. This emotional whiplash is emblematic of what’s happening across the country.

In under a month, India’s coronavirus infections went from approximately 60,000 daily to over 300,000 a day, yet Modi and his allies have conducted mass rallies in West Bengal. The state government wanted India’s election commission to combine the remaining two phases of the election. The commission denied this request.

On April 21, as Hindus observed Ram Navami, the birth of their god Ram, more than 80,000 people took a dip in the river Ganges. While short of the usual millions, the outing was less than ideal.

On Twitter, Modi called for pilgrims to show restraint, while still celebrating Ram Navami with his followers, writes Manavi Kapur.

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You asked about vaccine profits

How much money are drug companies making from vaccines?

For many Americans, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) these days is most closely associated with the pharmaceutical company’s Covid-19 vaccine, which has been recently suspended in the US as authorities investigate blood clot risks.

But for J&J, the vaccine is nowhere near its main product, at least not in terms of revenue. Out of over $22 billion in sales, Covid-19 vaccines accounted for $100 million—or just above 2%, the company announced earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the makers of the other vaccines licensed in the US, Moderna and Pfizer, stand to rake in quite a bit of cash. Both Pfizer and Moderna will likely require a booster shot at some point in the coming months, and while neither would comment on booster shot pricing, Moderna’s forecast for sales of the first two doses of the vaccine was $18.4 billion for 2021, so the booster shot could add about $9 billion to that. Pfizer projected at least $15 billion in sales for 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses, so the booster would bring an additional $7.5 billion to the pharma giant.

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Surprising discoveries

Scientists can’t decide what to call a group of black holes. Suggestions include a scream, a crush, or a silence.

European MPs are being targeted by deepfake videos. Individuals appear to be using filters to impersonate Russian opposition figures on video calls.

Installing sails on cargo ships would greatly reduce their emissions. It’d be more effective than switching to alternative fuels.

Pet food manufacturers are working on lab-grown meat. Fido’s kibble could soon be made from cell-cultured rabbit or chicken.

A small-town deli worth $100 million had its stock delisted. It’s still a mystery how the single store was able to rack up such a sky-high valuation.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, over-valued penny stocks, and your pets’ reviews of lab-grown meat 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 Mary Hui, Leslia Nguyen-Okwu, Tripti Lahiri, Hasit Shah, Liz Webber, and Jordan Lebeau.