Unprepared for new variants

The U.S. has been a pioneer in creating methods to follow diseases as they spread and mutate. The country just isn’t a leader when it comes to using those tools. Scientists sequencing Covid-19 cases say the U.S. system is like watching a wildfire: Find a new mutation, watch it spread, calibrate a response; find a newer mutation and watch the process repeat. Meanwhile, life expectancy in the U.S. fell significantly last year because of the pathogen. The World Health Organization contends that the coronavirus can be beaten by mid-2022—if the world is vaccinated, that is. Here’s the latest on the pandemic. — Margaret Sutherlin

Bloomberg is tracking the progress of coronavirus vaccines while mapping the pandemic worldwide

Here are today’s top stories  

Johnson & Johnson and three opioid distributors agreed to pay
$26 billion to settle thousands of government lawsuits blaming them for helping create a public-health crisis tied to the mishandling of painkillers. It may mark a major step forward in the fight over the highly addictive drugs, which have been blamed on more than 500,000 deaths over two decades.

Oxycodone Photographer: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

In case Congress wasn’t preoccupied enough, the U.S. is at risk of a default in October or November unless it raises or suspends the debt limit, the Congressional Budget Office said. The debt ceiling—how much the government can borrow—is a favorite partisan grenade on Capitol Hill. Democratic senators have already rejected any attempt by Republicans to set conditions for increasing the federal debt limit, while the debate is causing angst for money market traders.

Despite the Federal Reserve’s assurance that higher inflation is a transient phenomenon, growing concern is being voiced on corporate earnings calls, from Coca-Cola and JPMorgan to paint companies like PPG Industries. Here’s your markets wrap

Bitcoin rose above $32,000, continuing a rebound after erasing most of its gains for the year. The latest jump came as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Cathie Wood spoke during a panel on the future of the cryptocurrency.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two ardent Trump followers picked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to join a committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on Congress by Trump followers. Pelosi said the two Republicans would threaten the integrity of the probe. McCarthy threatened to boycott the inquiry

Republican Representative Jim Jordan (center, without jacket) was one of two men House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected for the committee investigating the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.  Photographer: Tom Brenner/Bloomberg

Fed Chair Jerome Powell reportedly has broad support for his renomination among top White House advisers, though a decision is expected later this year. Powell’s term is up in February.

Firms that manage the wealthiest people’s assets are increasingly looking to make bets on crypto. That’s according to a Goldman Sachs survey, which found that almost half of the family offices it does business with want to add digital currencies to their investments

What you’ll need to know tomorrow 

The High Financial Cost of Sexual Harassment

While it’s long been clear that victims of sexual harassment often face retaliation that can damage their careers, the financial cost they shoulder for the rest of their lives has been more difficult to quantify. A new study tries to answer that question and uncovers the staggering losses—sometimes more than a million dollars—victims face.

In New York, demonstrators on International Women’s Day 2020 call for equality and awareness of issues facing women globally. Photographer: Gabriela Bhaskar/Bloomberg

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