US Covid-19 response, Coupang earnings, affectionate whales

Outside a vaccination center in New Delhi.
Outside a vaccination center in New Delhi.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US Senate evaluates Joe Biden’s global Covid-19 response. Samantha Powers, new head of USAID, believes the US should be spearheading vaccination globally. Separately, Washington is looking at joint production of the Johnson & Johnson jab in India to help with its vaccination problems.

Narendra Modi backed out of a trip to the UK. The Indian prime minister will not attend the G7 summit in person next month due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. India recorded its highest daily death toll yet yesterday, and the hard-hit Indian capital is nearly out of vaccines.

An EU court rules on Amazon’s tax appeal. The US e-commerce giant is fighting a European Commission order that Luxembourg claw back nearly $300 million in taxes. Europe contends that special tax arrangements  there led to its profits being too lightly taxed.

Fighting continued between Israel and Hamas. Israeli airstrikes killed several more Palestinians in Gaza, while rockets fired from the area left at least three Israelis dead.

The UN holds a virtual event on human rights in Xinjiang. China has denounced today’s meeting, which was planned by the US, UK, and Germany.

NFTs are coming to eBay. The online marketplace announced it will allow the sale of non-fungible tokens for digital assets like images, trading cards, and video clips.

Oatly’s IPO could give it a valuation of $10 billion. The oat milk producer will start trading on New York’s Nasdaq exchange next week.

What to watch for

Less than two years ago, South Korea-based Coupang was hemorrhaging money after it received $2.7 billion in funding from SoftBank as it pushed to expand by endearing itself to customers with services like early morning and late-night deliveries.

The firm cut its losses from $770 million in 2019 to $567 million last year, as sales surged during the pandemic. Its March IPO raised another $4.6 billion and gave it a market cap of $84 billion on the first day of trading.

Now, investors are hoping the Amazon of Korea will behave more like its profitable namesake when it reports earnings today, which in turn would boost the SoftBank Vision Fund’s performance. SoftBank also reports earnings today.

Charting US renewable energy progress

A bar chart showing offshore wind capacity by country. The UK and China had more than 10,000 megawatts installed as of 2020. The US' Martha's Vineyard installation will have a capacity of 800 megawatts.

Over the last two decades, the US has seen a 12,000% increase in installed solar panel capacity and a 4,800% uptick in onshore wind turbines.

But offshore wind has always lagged behind, even as China and European countries forged ahead with booming offshore wind industries. This is poised to change over the next few years, as the Biden administration has signed off on the US’ first major offshore wind farm.

An individual offshore wind farm can produce far more energy than most onshore wind or solar installations; in terms of megawatts, the new Martha’s Vineyard wind farm will be larger than all but the three largest onshore wind farms in the US.

A new license plate policy in China could help Tesla

Shanghai, which is home to Tesla’s Chinese factory, has stopped issuing free license plates for EVs priced under 100,000 yuan ($15,560), according to local dealers and Chinese media reports. This news comes despite the popularity of the Hong Guang Mini, manufactured by SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile—a joint venture between state-run car giant SAIC, General Motors, and Guangxi Automobile.

To curb congestion and air pollution, residents of large Chinese cities must enter a lucky draw for license plates. A plate can cost as much as 100,000 yuan ($15,566). But to encourage cleaner transportation, Shanghai has been issuing free license plates to EV owners since 2013.

As such, many users have purchased the Hong Guang Mini not only because of its low price point, but also the license plate attached to it. Beyond the Hong Guang Mini, China has another 30 or so budget EV brands that could also be affected by the change.

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Surprising discoveries

Two whales were caught hugging. The rare display of affection was captured by a drone camera.

Americans believe social media does more to divide than unite. The sentiment cuts across party lines, a recent poll shows.

A tiger is on the loose in Houston. A man seen with the feline has been taken into custody, but the whereabouts of the big cat are still unknown.

A marine worm that lives inside sponges has hundreds of anuses. But only one mouth.

Owls are a sign of alien encounters. At least that’s what some UFO hunters believe.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, missing tigers, and eerie owl encounters 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 Tripti Lahiri, Mary Hui, Tim McDonnell, Jane Li, Liz Webber, and Jordan Lebeau.