In This Episode
- President Biden addressed the ongoing supply chain problems that are jacking up prices for consumers and slowing economic recovery, and said that the Port of Los Angeles will begin operating 24/7. Shippers including FedEx and UPS also said that they would commit to shipping more packages during off-peak hours.
- It’s a big week for booster shots. Today, the FDA authorization committee will discuss a potential third dose of Moderna’s vaccine, and on Friday, it will look at a possible booster J&J’s. The FDA will also turn its attention to the safety of mixing and matching different vaccines, which could make the whole booster process a lot easier if it’s approved.
- And in headlines: Social Security recipients will get a boost to their checks by 5.9 percent in 2022, the U.S. will open its borders to Canadian and Mexican travelers next month, and trans workers at Netflix will stage a walkout to protest statements made by the company’s CEO.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Thursday, October 14th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we’re hoping William Shatner is the last ever 90-year old man to go to space.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, we’re happy he got to go to space yesterday, but honestly, 90 probably should be the limit.
Priyanka Aribindi: Even if you don’t look it, no. No, you can’t be up there at that age.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, we preview an FDA advisory panel’s meeting starting today on COVID booster shots. Plus, the Union for TV and Movie Crews announced that a strike could be starting on Monday.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, President Biden announced yesterday that the Port of Los Angeles will begin operating 24/7.
[clip of President Biden] This is the first key step for moving our entire freight, transportation, and logistical supply chain nationwide to a 24/7 system.
Priyanka Aribindi: And this move joins efforts at Long Beach’s port, which is also operating around the clock, to help relieve growing backlogs in the global supply chain.
Tre’vell Anderson: Perhaps in your own shopping, you’ve noticed longer delivery times or produce shortages or price hikes for cars or electronics or food. For me, it’s been my oxtail plate that I order at this local Jamaican spot, which already cost a pretty penny, but now costs about three or four of them. And when I asked the owner the other day about the cost increase, he spoke about supply shortages being the cause.
Priyanka Aribindi: OK, so I was watching this. I’ve been seeing this happen. Wasn’t really putting all of it together. But this is because of a combination of forces like increasing inflation rates, which we’ll talk about more later on the show, but also shipping delays, which themselves are a byproduct of this ongoing pandemic. So what does this mean for regular consumers?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, just about everything is costing more: cars, diapers, meat, egg. And then we all know about the delivery delays because many people have been waiting longer than normal to get their Peloton or your new MacBook or some patio furniture. Or maybe you’ve gone to the store to buy a new washcloths and towels like me, and the shelves are basically empty. All of this can be traced back to the supply chain issues. The hope with this announcement about the Port of L.A. joining Long Beach as a 24/7 operation is that it will speed up some bottlenecks in the chain as 40% of goods that come into the U.S. come through either of these cities.
Priyanka Aribindi: OK, so you said MacBook, and I panicked a little bit because I might be in the market for a new computer. Please tell me that these issues will go away now that this is happening. What are we thinking?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, it absolutely will not.
Priyanka Aribindi: Great. Great.
Tre’vell Anderson: Apparently, there are blockages that stretch up and down the chain. Because of Miss Covidina, for example, factories have shut down and slowed production around the world. There’s a shortage of shipping containers, apparently. And even once items get shipped to whatever their destination, there often aren’t enough truck drivers to transport the goods. On Tuesday, for example, 27 container ships were anchored in the Port of Los Angeles, just waiting to be unloaded, with the average wait time stretching to more than 11 days. Here’s Biden at a press conference yesterday talking about the decision:
[clip of President Biden] This is across the board commitment to going to 24/7. This is a big first step in speeding up the movement of materials and goods through our supply chain. But now we need the rest of the private sector chain to step up as well. This is not called a supply chain for nothing—this means the terminal operators, railways, trucking companies, shippers, and other retailers as well.
Priyanka Aribindi: OK, so speaking of the private sector, how have major companies responded to this news?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, part of Biden’s announcement was that a number of major shippers and retailers had already agreed to adjust some things in light of the opening of the port. Shippers, including FedEx and UPS, are committing to ship packages more during off peak hours, and retailers including Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Samsung are making the same commitment. But as we just heard him say, it’s going to take the entire private sector to ensure we, as consumers, feel the impact of these changes sooner rather than later. But there are so many compounding issues throughout the chain that some really smart people are out here predicting that we may be experiencing all of this late into next year or even into 2023. So I’ll just say now, you all better buy and mail off those holiday gifts early, just in case.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yikes. OK. I’m still reeling from all of this, but we are going to turn now to the pandemic. The FDA’s Independent Advisory Committee on Vaccines is meeting today and tomorrow to discuss authorizing Moderna and J&J booster shots. So last month, the FDA authorized booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for immunocompromised people and adults over the age of 65. But they didn’t give us any guidance on the other vaccines, which led to a very long waiting period for this 69 million Americans who received the Moderna vaccines and the 15 million with J&Js. But it seems that we’re getting a little bit closer.
Tre’vell Anderson: So what should we know about how this process works?
Priyanka Aribindi: So the FDA committee is going to convene and look at lots of data, and basically they will decide if booster shots of these vaccines should be dispensed, and if so, who should get them and in what timeframe? So today they’ll be talking about Moderna and the dosage of a potential third shot. And then on Friday, they’ll talk about J&J and the best timing for a second shot. They’ll also be talking about the safety of mixing and matching different vaccines. Which could make this whole booster process a lot easier if that is approved.
Tre’vell Anderson: OK, so there’s some progress happening. I’ve also been seeing some headlines about the effectiveness of these boosters in the news this week. What is the latest that we know there?
Priyanka Aribindi: OK, so there is a lot of information out there. And my suggestion, even before we get into this, is that for everyone listening to just wait for the official recommendations before jumping to any conclusions. But the FDA did release a review on Tuesday that found that a half dose booster of Moderna strengthened the virus-fighting antibodies in people who had received the two doses at least six months earlier. But other scientists affiliated with the FDA are saying that the efficacy of the two dose shot remains pretty strong. So a booster might not be necessary. And yesterday we received preliminary data from a federal clinical trial that showed that people who received the J&J shot may actually be better off with a booster of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, rather than a second shot of J&J. The FDA also had a mixed review on the case that J&J made for their own booster. So there is a lot that they will be kind of discussing and deciding.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m not going to lie, I’m confused, but I’m just going to wait until we get the official from the FDA.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s a good call. There is a lot of information. And you know, as we were saying, some of it has mixed conclusions. So I personally am very glad that the experts are there to make that decision so we don’t have to be internet detectives and do it for ourselves.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. No doing your own research, folks out there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh uh. No, we have some very smart people to do that for you.
Tre’vell Anderson: Speaking of those smart people, those experts, do we know when we’re actually getting a recommendation from them on these boosters?
Priyanka Aribindi: So we’re not expecting a recommendation immediately. If it’s going to happen, it’ll be perhaps next week. Probably, you know, longer than that. After the FDA’s advisory committee gives their recommendation, the full FDA has to decide whether or not to authorize the booster, and then a CDC advisory panel gives more guidance on who should be eligible to get them, and the CDC director weighs in. It is a whole process.
Tre’vell Anderson: It sounds like a whole process.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so that is meant to help the public be a little more confident in these vaccines because, you know, so many different experts are weighing in and making these recommendations. But it can definitely be a little bit confusing when the different panels give slightly different recommendations. We will definitely be keeping you updated as we all learn more. We’re going to be staying on this story. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Consumer prices jumped 5.4% during the last 12 months, according to the Labor Department, and it’s not just supply shortages. Inflation is currently at a 13-year high. Economists disagree on whether this reflects a long-term threat, but earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS News that she believes higher inflation is a temporary issue.
[clip of Treas. Sec. Janet Yellen] I believe it’s transitory, but I don’t mean to suggest that these pressures will disappear in the next month or two.
Priyanka Aribindi: Because of the Labor Department’s report yesterday, the Social Security Administration announced that Social Security recipients will get a boost to their checks by 5.9% next year. This is to account for the increased cost of living, and it’s one of the largest increases since 1982. The change will affect nearly 70 million people.
Tre’vell Anderson: The U.S. announced it will open its borders to Canadian and Mexican travelers next month. People fully vaccinated with one of the shots approved by the World Health Organization can enter the U.S. for non-essential travel. This announcement comes weeks after the Biden administration said it would lift a similar sweeping restriction to foreign travelers coming from 33 other countries, including members of the European Union and China. Ending travel restrictions with our next door neighbors marks a new phase in the pandemic recovery because it welcomes tourism and allows people to visit their friends and family. White House officials warned that unvaccinated travelers will continue to be banned from crossing the northern and southern borders. Throughout the pandemic, specific groups of unvaccinated people, such as commercial drivers and students, were exempt from border crossing restrictions but with this new policy, they’ll be required to show proof of vaccination in order to enter the country starting in January.
Priyanka Aribindi: Vaccines are good! Get that, if you haven’t already. So one of Eastern and Central Europe’s high-testosterone, low-tolerance leaders took an L this weekend. Prime Minister Andrej Babis of the Czech Republic saw his populist ANO party lose its majority when the country held its elections on Saturday, and the stage is now set for a coalition of opposition parties to form the next government. Babis is an anti-immigration billionaire whose peers are Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, and all of the men have been criticized for taking aim at democratic values and stoking nationalist resentment in their country. Defeating Babis and his tight grip on the country’s political machinery required a diverse group of opposition parties to put aside their political differences. Opposition groups in Poland and Hungary will have the opportunity to do the same thing in their upcoming parliamentary elections in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Now, they have proof that these coalitions can work.
Tre’vell Anderson: Studio execs have until Monday to learn how to shoot movies on iPhones, because that’s how long the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is giving them until they go on strike. IATSE announced its strike date yesterday. The union represents 60,000 film set workers nationwide, and it has been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, for better hours and better work conditions. After getting the AMPTP back to the bargaining table last week, IATSE leaders reported Tuesday that things were slowing down. The newly-announced deadline for an agreement will surely ratchet up the pressure. Also in film and TV activism, trans workers at Netflix will stage a walkout next Wednesday to protest statements made by the company’s CEO in support of Dave Chappelle’s new special “The Closer.” In the special, Chappelle returns to some of his favorite joke areas, specifically mocking trans people. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the employees behind the walkout want Netflix to acknowledge the harm the special has done.
Priyanka Aribindi: Solidarity with IATSE and solidarity with the trans workers at Netflix.
Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely. Very much so. And those are the headlines. That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, save up for some inflation-era gasoline, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just menus at Jamaican food spots like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[together] And stay on Earth 90-year olds!
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re looking out for you, OK? I want to be clear. Next thing you know, Betty White is going to be going to space.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, is everyone is going to be now? Is this the thing? All right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Protect them all, at all costs.
Priyanka Aribindi: Have fun up there. I’m staying down here.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and myself. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.