Pfizer declares victory

Evening Briefing

Pfizer said a final analysis of its clinical-trial data showed its Covid-19 vaccine, developed with the help of the German government and Germany-based BioNTech, was 95% effective, which may pave the way for the company to obtain regulatory authorizations for its use. Scientists however are calling for the release of more data on the new medicine—which faces huge logistical hurdles when it comes to distribution—so it can be independently reviewed and analyzed. Rivals including Moderna, meanwhile, are close behind with their own drugs, which may be easier to ship. The Pfizer statement comes a week after the pharmaceutical giant said it had positive preliminary information on the potential vaccine. At the time, the company's stock soared, and Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla made $5.6 million selling his shares. —David E. Rovella

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Here are today's top stories

Assuming peer review doesn't yield any nasty surprises, there's still the question of vaccine side effects, writes Therese Raphael in Bloomberg Opinion. Regulators are gearing up for a deluge of reports on adverse reactions to the new drugs, and follow-ups will be critical to maintaining the level of public participation needed for a vaccination program to be successful.

For now, however, the horizon remains dark. Tokyo reported a record number of new coronavirus cases Wednesday, surpassing a previous daily high set in August, and Poland reported a record 603 deaths. In the U.S., Covid-19 is strengthening its grip on one of the most vulnerable populations: senior citizens in long-term care. Last week, states reported more than 29,000 new Covid-19 cases in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Counts rose roughly 17% in one week, the steepest acceleration since May. New York's recovery from the first wave of the outbreak suffered twin blows today, with the announcement of citywide school closings and the warning of catastrophic cuts to public-transit in America's biggest city (since no rescue package has been forthcoming from Congress). The American death toll has now surpassed 250,000. Here is the latest on the pandemic.

Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates said Wednesday during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum that asset diversification should be driving investor portfolios right now. As for bonds or cash, Dalio says no.   For the full schedule of the Forum, which concludes Thursday, click here.

Why has Bitcoin skyrocketed almost 60% in the past month when ownership of the cryptocurrency is limited to relatively few? It may have to do with the Bitcoin whales.

The summer of job security on Wall Street is over. Goldman Sachs's decision to start firing its employees again is part of a broader trend, and 2021 is when the pink slips may really start rolling in.

President-elect Joe Biden said President Donald Trump's continued obstruction of the transition, along with that of his General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, may delay distributing a vaccine to Americans by months, costing even more lives. And while his court challenges to Biden's victory have been defeated at almost every turn, millions of dollars of Trump campaign cash is now being used to pay for a recount in Democratic-leaning districts of Wisconsin, where Biden won. Trump supporters are also seeking a recount in Arizona, despite "zero errors." Trump's adjutants have said they want to get a case before what they see as a friendly Supreme Court, or delay certification of electoral votes so Republican state legislatures can try to disregard the popular will and keep Trump in power. The lawsuits are based in part on claims of widespread election fraud for which there is no evidence. And as for that U.S. cyber official who affirmed that the 2020 election was fraud-free? Trump just fired him.

What's Joe Weisenthal thinking about? The Bloomberg news director contends that, after a period of underestimation, economic figures are about to start coming in as low as (if not lower than) predicted. Retail sales are at their slowest in six months. But not only is the pace decelerating, it's also well below economist expectations. This phenomenon is starting to emerge across the entire economic landscape, Joe says.  

What you'll need to know tomorrow

What you'll want to read tonight 

Boeing's 737 Max Killed 346. Now It's Back

U.S. airlines are preparing to get the once-defective Boeing 737 Max ready for commercial flights after regulators lifted a 20-month grounding tied to the plane, which killed 346 people in two crashes. American Airlines is poised to be the first carrier to bring back the Max since the flying ban began in March 2019. The company is planning to start operating the plane Dec. 29 between Miami and New York, but took pains to say passengers won't have to ride on it if they don't want to.

A pile of twisted airplane debris is all that remains at the crash site of an Ethiopian Airways-operated Boeing 737 Max on March 16, 2019.

Photographer: Tony Karumba/AFP

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