Drug companies, typically competing against one another, are coming together in an amazing move to fight a common enemy … COVID.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: For those of you that might remember Monty Hall and the game show, "Let's Make A Deal," this latest news on the war against COVID may represent one of the best "deals" ever made – as it has the potential to vastly increase the availability of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine.
And for those of you who love history, it's often during wartime that American ingenuity and determination are at their best. There's no question that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were developed in record time. Now the challenge's getting the vaccines produced and into the arms of Americans. The idea of drugs companies, who are typically so competitive and secretive, working together is both a unique and historic approach, and had Black reflecting on her corporate experience,
When I worked in the oil and gas industry we, of course, were competing against other companies. But there also were times when we would partner on projects for an assortment of reasons (profits and reducing risk were the most common) – but never anything like this. This alliance between Merck and Johnson & Johnson shows the power of corporate collaboration when we're focused on the good of the American people.
As George Gershwin wrote, "You like potato and I like potahto … Potato, potahto … Let's call the whole thing off."
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It definitely confused Red as she couldn't imagine how the Potato Head brand, formerly known as Mr. Potato Head, could be the center of so much attention.
It's not that Red doesn't support gender-neutrality and the LGBTQ cause. In fact, both she and Black believe that how you see yourself is your business and that people shouldn't be discriminated against based on who they are or who they love. But what does any of that have to do with a beloved children's toy? (We're old enough to remember that originally you had to provide your own potato.)
And it became even more confusing as the name change was related to the brand, not the individual character as Mr. Potato Heads drops the mister, sort of. We always saw the toy as being gender-neutral (ok, let's be real, it's a potato, do potatoes even have genders?), but now recognize that today's kids might feel more comfortable with a Potato playset that's more inclusive and doesn't impose certain expectations on them and their creative freedom.
Of course, Black saw one more thing …
Not to make light of the LGBTQ considerations, but changing the brand to "Potato Head" instead of "Mr. Potato Head" means that "Mrs. Potato Head" is no longer a secondary character.
Three vaccines. All deemed safe and effective. All extremely good at preventing serious disease. And isn't that what really matters?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Johnson & Johnson is known and trusted for its consumer products and first aid supplies … and what could be more important to consumers than a proven-effective COVID-19 vaccine?!
It was a huge relief when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received emergency use approval, and now it's exciting that we have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a third option. Especially as it's a one-shot vaccine and, unlike the others, can be stored in a regular refrigerator, so it's much easier to use and distribute. Of course, there are differences between the three vaccines – not only the science behind them but also the timing of the testing, so it's difficult to do a straight comparison. But that doesn't stop people from trying, and as Black told Red,
OK, I am a numbers person but, in this case, it is not that simple. And even though people like to quote the efficacy rate of preventing COVID-19 (all of the vaccines are significantly higher than what the CDC initially hoped for) … the focus should be on the fact all three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.
Red really didn't want to get into the science and the numbers, but felt compelled to add,
From the very start, my biggest concern wasn't the mild cases – it was the severe ones. The ones resulting in hospitalization or death. I just want the coronavirus to end up being like the flu, in that you can get a flu shot. And yes, I know, it doesn't mean you won't get it; it just means that it will most likely be a much milder case if you do.