Dear Tim Cook: Why isn’t Apple on this list?

From CNN’s list of companies that require employees to be vaccinated before they return to work, updated Sunday:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Netflix
  • Walmart
  • Disney
  • BlackRock
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • The Washington Post
  • Union Square Hospitality Group
  • Ascension Health
  • Lyft
  • Uber
  • Twitter
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Jefferies

My take: I would have expected Apple to show more leadership here.

See also:

60 Comments

  1. David Baraff said:
    Thank you, PED. I would have bet a large sum of money Apple would have beaten Disney to the punch, on this issue. I am shocked (and somewhat sad) Apple hasn’t shown prompt leadership on this issue.

    2
    August 3, 2021
    • Brian Loftus said:
      Perhaps Tim wants to avoid this headline. “Apple fires hundreds for failing to get vaccine. The majority of those fired are minorities.”
      I suspect Houston looks like most big cities but I could be wrong. Harris County web site (most of Houston is in Harris Counth) including children, Black or African American are about 27% vaccinated, hispanics 36% vaccinated, whites 44% vaccinated.
      Kids distort the numbers – Harris County (per state web site) is 55% over age 12, and 77% over 65.

      Also, keep in mind that with vaccination rates of 70% and post-covid infection rates at 50%, the majority of cases is going to be in previously vaccinated populations. The death rates will still be an order of magnitude or more in the vaccinated groups.

      0
      August 5, 2021
  2. Robert Stack said:
    My (PED’s) take: I would have expected Apple to show more leadership here.

    Amen to that. Not getting vaccinated puts far too many others at risk besides yourself – however, exceptions need to be made for folks with allergies or other medical issues related to vaccines! (Frequent testing instead for them!)

    3
    August 3, 2021
  3. Ralph McDarmont said:
    I would expect a vaccination team in every corridor of the space ship and ancillary buildings around the world. I thought Apple was a leader in health issues.

    1
    August 3, 2021
    • Dan Scropos said:
      Precisely. Not to mention that the long term vaccine effects, if any, aren’t yet known, the vaccines do not yet have full FDA approval, and the fact that studies are showing natural antibodies of those that have already had the virus are a FAR superior defense against Covid (The Rockefeller University team study) over the current vaccines.

      For some, it’s fairly easy. If you’re over 70, and/or overweight, and/or diabetic, and/or any age with a condition that may make you at risk, the vaccine seems like a pretty wise choice.

      For some, it’s not an easy choice, though. Take an unvaccinated 25 year old that’s had Covid. What might happen in 25 years? There’s no reason to get a currently inferior vaccine, to the already produced and proven natural antibodies. So, we’re asking Apple mandate that person get an unproven vaccine? No, thanks. I’d say Apple *is* leading, at least for now.

      7
      August 3, 2021
      • David Baraff said:
        I strongly disagree with your comment about “the long term effects are not known.” In reading about this subject, I have learned that in the history of vaccines (not just this one, ALL vaccines) that side effects have never emerged after years: when there are side effects, they’ve always shown up in a matter of months.

        People have been taking the COVID vaccine for more than a year now. If there were going to be side effects, we’d know about them.

        To suggest that the COVID vaccine isn’t safe because we don’t know the long term side effects from it is disinformation. Period. Full stop.

        6
        August 3, 2021
        • Steven Noyes said:
          Read up on Guillain-Barre syndrome and realize ALL you have learned is a lie. Yes, it was a 1:100,000 but multiply that by a billion people. Long term side effects are rare but what you wrote is a blatant lie. And mRNA vaccines are rather new so….

          Note: Unless advised by a doctor, if you are over 24, there is little reason to not get the vaccine from a purely risk based assessment but I do understand the reluctance some people have. Tuskegee anyone. The government has given 1,000,000’s of people a reason to NOT trust them.

          There are also real dangers with the vaccine driving mutant variants faster due to selection pressures. Look to the UK. 50% of cases are breakthrough cases. Given the highly targeted nature of the vaccine, breakthrough cases will, more than likely, be highly infectious to others with the vaccine. In short, lots more unknowns than knowns.

          The problem with this is the radical changes in messaging from the press pre and post election. Pre election, our current VP was full on anti-vax. Media from CNN, WaPo, HuffPost and MSNBC were all warning of potential long term effects and the dangers of the vaccine. Post election, the messaging changed. Radically.

          This radical change in messages has eroded all trust in the media (driven only by hate by the media) and they are 100% responsible for the slow uptake of the vaccine.

          1
          August 4, 2021
      • David Baraff said:
        Also (found on an NIH web page):
        Now, a new NIH-supported study shows that the answer to this question will vary based on how an individual’s antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were generated: over the course of a naturally acquired infection or from a COVID-19 vaccine. The new evidence shows that protective antibodies generated in response to an mRNA vaccine will target a broader range of SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying “single letter” changes in a key portion of their spike protein compared to antibodies acquired from an infection.

        These results add to evidence that people with acquired immunity may have differing levels of protection to emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. More importantly, the data provide further documentation that those who’ve had and recovered from a COVID-19 infection still stand to benefit from getting vaccinated.

        —————————
        So the 25 year old who got the “alpha” variant could end up getting screwed when they get delta, next week.

        2
        August 3, 2021
        • Dan Scropos said:
          You disagree. Cool. I’ve read studies to the contrary. Also cool.

          Antibody responses following SARS-CoV-2 infection more potent than vaccine-elicited ones

          “Memory antibodies selected over time by natural infection have greater potency and breadth than antibodies elicited by vaccination,” says Michel Nussenzweig and colleagues.

          2
          August 3, 2021
          • Bart Yee said:
            @Dan Here are quotes from the study Nussenzweig pre-print that, IMO, seem relevant to your discussion. Since I’m not familiar with ways to highlight, bold or italicize within WordPress reply box responses, I’ll try to emphasize the sections I’m interested in by {{text}}, OK? I’ll separate the paragraph for clarity and emphasis

            Summary
            “Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) {{infection produces B-cell responses that continue to evolve for at least one year}}.

            {{During that time, memory B cells express increasingly broad and potent antibodies that are resistant to mutations found in variants of concern}}1.

            As a result, {{vaccination of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) {{{{convalescent individuals with currently available mRNA vaccines}}}} produces high levels of plasma neutralizing activity against all variants tested}}1, 2.

            Here, {{we examine memory B cell evolution 5 months after vaccination with either Moderna (mRNA-1273) or Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) mRNA vaccines in a cohort of SARS-CoV-2 naïve individuals}}.

            {{Between prime and boost, memory B cells produce antibodies that evolve increased neutralizing activity, but there is no further increase in potency or breadth thereafter. Instead, memory B cells that emerge 5 months after vaccination of naïve individuals express antibodies that are equivalent to those that dominate the initial response}}. We conclude that memory antibodies selected over time by natural infection have greater potency and breadth than antibodies elicited by vaccination.

            {{These results suggest that
            {{{{boosting vaccinated individuals with currently available mRNA vaccines}}}}
            would produce a {{{{quantitative increase}}}} in plasma neutralizing activity
            but not the {{{{qualitative advantage against variants}}}} obtained by
            {{{{vaccinating convalescent individuals}}}}. }}

            0
            August 3, 2021
            • Bart Yee said:
              The way I read this summary is:
              1) Covid Infected patients developed B-Cell responses (antibodies) that continued to evolve over at least 1 year. They develop increasing broad and potent Antibiodies resistant to mutations in variants of concern.

              2) Vaccination of Covid convalescent individuals (assuming they survived) with “currently available mRNA vaccines” produces “high levels of plasma neutralizing activity against all variants tested”.

              3) Non-prior infected & unvaccinated people who are vaccinated with mRNA vaccines develop antibodies which “evolve with increased neutralizing activity” between prime and boost, but after boost, the antibodies are “equivalent to those that dominate the initial response”, that is, they are same but not expanded breadth.

              4) importantly, here is the money quotes – “Memory antibodies selected over time by natural infection have greater potency and breadth than antibodies elicited by vaccination”, {assuming you survive infection or hospitalization, you did not spread the disease further, and not discussing any lingering or long term symptoms}, my emphasis.

              5) Finally “These results suggest that boosting vaccinated individuals…would produce Quantitative increases in plasma neutralizing activity” but “not the Qualitative advantage against variants obtained by VACCINATING CONVALESCENT INDIVIDUALS”, again my emphasis.

              0
              August 3, 2021
              • Bart Yee said:
                @Dan
                Here is a quote from a recent WSJ article (I’ll link separately so as to avoid moderation) regarding Delta and vaccination vs infected/convalescent responses:

                “In a May study in the scientific journal Nature, researchers found Covid-19-specific immune cells in the bone marrow from 15 of 19 patients who had experienced a mild infection as much as eight months earlier. That indicates that their bodies were forming a lasting immune memory against the virus, said Ali Ellebedy, an associate professor of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the senior author on the study.

                “Those people have some partial protection remaining for a long time,” Dr. Ellebedy said.

                “Immunologists and health authorities caution that not everyone generates a robust immune response following a Covid-19 infection, especially people who are older or have weakened immune systems. Immune response also likely depends on how much virus a person was exposed to or how ill they became, they say. Vaccines appear to confer more consistent protection than infection.”

                “Full vaccination provides solid protection against Delta, studies suggest, though the variant chips away at the immune response. A recent study in Nature that looked at blood samples found that two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca PLC vaccines offered neutralizing protection against Delta in 95% of people, while a single dose barely inhibited the variant. {{Antibodies in blood samples taken from participants infected up to 12 months earlier were LESS PROTECTIVE against the Delta variant than the Alpha variant, previously the most dominant variant in the U.S.}} my emphasis

                {{Covid-19 vaccines STRENGTHEN (my emphasis) the immune response among people who have been previously infected}}, immunologists say. In one cohort of 63 previously infected participants, 41% of whom were subsequently vaccinated, researchers found that people who had been infected but not vaccinated generated an immune response up to a year later.

                People who were vaccinated after being infected generated more-effective antibody responses against viral mutations.

                “They basically become bulletproof,” “It’s a big difference.”

                Who said that??

                “said Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at the Rockefeller University and senior author on the study.”

                “The CDC and many health authorities recommend that people who have previously had Covid-19 still get vaccinated to boost their immune response.”

                I agree and apparently Michel Nussenzweig does too, and he has the studies to back up the immunological reasons why to do so. I’d rather everyone be as bulletproof as possible, health and lives depend on it, and IMO, would also reduce variant and COVID spread as well.

                1
                August 3, 2021
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        natural antibodies of those that have already had the virus are a FAR superior defense against Covid

        Natural means getting COVID-19 and surviving. No thank you. I’ll take my chances with the “inferior” antibodies provided by the vaccine.

        6
        August 3, 2021
        • Dan Scropos said:
          I agree, Gregg. At your age, the vaccine seems the far safer route. This is not a zero sum game.

          1
          August 3, 2021
          • Gregg Thurman said:
            At your age,

            Hey, I resemble that remark!

            1
            August 3, 2021
            • Dan Scropos said:
              Ha! You’re as sharp as a tack and you look great, GT. Peace.

              Dan

              0
              August 3, 2021
  4. Patrick Beyrouti said:
    Apple is very legal / liability / averse company . The vaccine is not yet FDA approved , once it is , you can expect Apple to mandate it . I would bet on that .

    4
    August 3, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      @Patrick: That’s a bit of a misleading comment – though I’m not saying your intent was to mislead! The vaccines ARE approved by the FDA for emergency use, and most rational/sane people recognize that we have a public health emergency.

      4
      August 3, 2021
      • David Emery said:
        But at least under some regulations, there’s a difference in how an ’emergency use’ and ‘full use’ are treated. I believe (although I don’t know for sure) that DoD regulations make this distinction, which is why DoD has not mandated the Covid vaccine. (I know from personal experience/sore arm that DoD mandates A Lot of other vaccines, based in part on where you are expected to deploy.)

        What’s the law in Texas about employers and vaccines? Could this be a case of Apple not having to manage rules for each jurisdiction?

        0
        August 3, 2021
      • Patrick Beyrouti said:
        Thank you for understanding / clarifying my intent . Moreover emergency use can be interpreted as for the “vulnerable” for the seniors, etc … but not for fit young people . Anyway it is expected that the FDA fully approve it soon , at which time we will all understand better the shortcomings of the current situation . Anyway since debatable , mandating may have legal implications that will lead to liability .

        1
        August 3, 2021
  5. Daniel Epstein said:
    I think Apple is waiting for Rod Hall to upgrade the stock at Goldman Sachs (who is on the list) before requiring vaccines! Just kidding. Remember Apple doesn’t like to be first to the market if they can be the best. To me I think Apple and Tim Cook are not even sure people will be coming back to the office on the September schedule they hoped. They got public push back on that by some employees. Imagine there would be some pushback on Vaccine requirement. (I know that is pretty stupid). Just because Apple is first in Market Cap doesn’t mean they have to be first to announce vaccination policy. Cowardly maybe! Legally and concern for company employee relationships it may be wise to polish the rules or even get feedback from those most affected. Also Global company might have to have different policies for different countries. Maybe more complicated than we think.

    1
    August 3, 2021
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    Who cares?

    Been watching AAPL’s trading action today, and trading action strongly suggests the institutions are buying up AAPL.

    The average per-minute volume today has been about 150K shares. That includes 6 spikes commencing at about 11:45 AM Eastern wherein per minute volume tripled the average. Of those, two were very notable achieving 1.16 Million shares per minute and 1.39 Million shares per minute respectively.

    The accelerated buying stopped at $147.96, just shy of the intraday high of $148.045 (block trade price).

    Were these Apple buybacks, or could this post-earnings selloff be coming to a quick end?

    0
    August 3, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      I am very thankful for the institutional buying activity today, as I purchased August 6 $144/$145 Call Spreads yesterday at 69¢. The estimated ROI with a Close above $144 on Friday is 42.20% (includes fees) for the week. Go AAPL.

      1
      August 3, 2021
  7. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Here’s an idea: Apple will require all employees interested in working from home to be vaccinated before any further action is taken up on those requests.

    Let that make the rounds on Slack.

    1
    August 3, 2021
  8. Les Kaye said:
    “and the fact that studies are showing natural antibodies of those that have already had the virus are a FAR superior defense against Covid”

    Tell that to my two friends who both got it – again. And next time you refer to a study, please post the link. Finally, I’d look twice at any report from Rockefeller, who only recently disclosed the sexual abuse scandal that they were aware of for 40 years.
    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/stephaniemlee/rockefeller-reginald-archibald-report-sexual-abuse

    0
    August 3, 2021
  9. Jerry Doyle said:
    For a moderator who lectures Apple 3.0 investors to eschew harsh, rhetoric political wedge issues PED has a propensity to throw red meat to the group. What does this post have to do with our Apple investment strategy? The CNN’s news article doesn’t even mention Apple.

    There are deeply divided and passionate feelings on this issue. They involve dogmatic and notable exceptions ranging from politics, to religious and personal liberties in search of workable solutions exploring decision making positions while tempering the rhetoric and advancing the search for a practical answer. I only can assume PED wanted “clicks,” and clicks you are getting. Apple investors I recruited the past several years have forwarded this post to members of their congregations, who have forwarded the post to their respective pastors who have forwarded it on to their political leaders. There already is enough vitriol in my geographic region without interjecting a CNN news article presenting Apple fodder for creating additional firestorms the vaccination issue already has ignited. This issue needed not be presented in this forum and it disappoints me deeply. This post doesn’t help me one iota with my Apple investment. Apple 3.0 is a forum that should drive Apple investors together for discussion, not drive them apart.

    6
    August 3, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      @Jerry: I thought this was actually a pretty civilized discussion overall, where different viewpoints were expressed in a generally respectful way. To me the saddest thing is that some have chosen to politicize mask wearing as well as getting the vaccine, when these should be debated in a non-partisan way based on the science.

      On your other point, I don’t think the purpose of PED’s blog is to exclusively cover Apple as an “investment strategy” – it seems to me he covers Apple in a pretty holistic way, from the recovery of long sunk iPhones to its environmental policies to whatever ill-informed article appears in the WSJ. However, I do agree with you that PED does drop the occasional post that can easily become infused with political comments, and there is little doubt it leads to greater engagement (and comments) from his readers. E.g. just look at the number of comments on this piece! 🙂

      4
      August 3, 2021
  10. David Baraff said:
    I’m likely exaggerating my self-importance, but in fact, I sent email to PED and specifically asked that he address this topic a few days ago. (I work for Pixar, and I was extremely surprised when Disney stepped up early and took a decisive stand. And shocked they beat Apple to the punch.) This is perhaps the only time I can recall when I feel like Apple just hasn’t done the right thing, and I figured, I’m sure there are high-up people at Apple who likely read PED’s Apple 3.0, and you never know what small thing might make the difference.

    The hardest thing to wrap my mind about in this whole sorry mess is coming to grips with how effortlessly self-destructive so many people have been, and are. It’s so hard to understand.

    1
    August 3, 2021
    • “I’m likely exaggerating my self-importance, but in fact, I sent email to PED and specifically asked that he address this topic a few days ago.”

      Yup. Your’s was the shove that got this ball rolling.

      2
      August 3, 2021
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @David Baraff: “… It’s so hard to understand.”

      That’s because not everyone is like you brother David. You’re probably the same person who says that a woman has the right to get an abortion because abortion is a key part of her liberty, equality and economic security. But politicians, you say, keep passing laws with the goal of making it more difficult, if not impossible for women to get an abortion. Yet, you think nothing of the government or an Employer mandating laws and policies for big brother or the Employer to inject something inside people’s bodies. Many people of faith view their bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within and they question, or at least they are hesitant, injecting anything inside their bodies.

      Republicans have more faith in the individual American, whereas Democrats put their faith in the ability of elected elites to define and to determine what’s best for average Americans. Many Americans feel under siege by their government leaders and now, under siege by their Employers.

      Individuals have an inalienable right to decide what goes inside their bodies. That is the epitome of personal freedom. The Democrats are seeking to assert government control over personal behavior, an intrusiveness most Democrats would have once opposed. The conservative movement to which I subscribe has a basic tenet in the belief that the government (and Employers) should stay out of people’s private lives. Government governs best when it governs least.

      4
      August 3, 2021
      • Nicholas Watland said:
        Jerry…. Thanks for providing a small sliver of sanity to this thread!

        2
        August 4, 2021
  11. Bart Yee said:
    IMO, Apple is, not so simply, evaluating & elaborating reasonable vaccination policies in the face of rapidly shifting medical, business, & personnel perspectives that are at odds w/multiple goals & behaviors. Issues are moving erratically w/pandemic, local, state, & nation(al) perspectives, advice, rules, & recommendations, as pointed out above, quite variable in each & every locale Apple is in.

    W/Apple Park, work from home/remotely is still postponed so vaccination status is not required (yet) but likely being considered IF significant #’s are asked to return – compare w/Google, FB, Twitter whose policy for employees “returning to the office”. Similar for Financial, business, etc., “returning to the office”. Disney, Netflix, Lyft, Uber, etc. are heavily consumer / personal physical facing so their reopenings depend on keeping employees active & not spreading/getting infected to/from consumers.

    The Apple Store is the biggest direct worry for customer facing employees & customers so Apple’s restrictions regarding masking, temp checks, spacing, occupancy are their first line of defense. Since there are so many different locales and local health regs (or lack of same), it isn’t easy for Apple to come up w/an all-encompassing vaccination policy for employees or even customers, although its possible for Apple to mandate it if they so choose. However, Walmart has an interesting incentive program:

    “Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, said all its U.S.-based corporate employees must be vaccinated by Oct. 4, according to a Friday memo from Doug McMillon, the company’s president and CEO.

    This mandate does not apply to Walmart’s store employees, but it will soon implement a new process to verify their vaccine status and is offering employees the chance to get vaccinated while on the clock (along with up to three days paid leave for any reaction to the shot). The company is also doubling its current vaccine incentive to $150; current employees who get vaccinated and new employees who were vaccinated before they started at Walmart are all eligible to receive the bonus.”

    Sigh, its complicated. IMO, Apple management is taking its time (struggling?) w/how best to proceed – blanket, measured and local, employee blowback, etc.

    And yes, IMO, its an Apple investor issue as this affects the health/well being of Apple’s most important assets, its people/employees, workplaces, & reputation & leadership in doing the best it can in making decisions for employee health, & larger sphere of consumers/communities where Apple employees work, play, & live.

    On an even wider scale, Apple may also have to consider how to address supplier vaccination, Covid mitigation at factories, warehousing, transport hubs, plus customer support, repair centers, & call centers around the world.

    5
    August 4, 2021
  12. Bart Yee said:
    One interesting point for the near future is when the FDA, I believe, finally fully approves the Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen/J&J vaccines (my guess is by Spring 2022), what will the upshot be for those who are vaccine hesitant. The Pfizer vaccine will have reached 1 year usage by 3rd week in December 2021, Moderna by end of December 2021, and Janssen by mid-March 2022 so by that time, each vaccine will have at least a year’s worth of experience about usage, side effects, risks, and hopefully, rewards against delta and impact on spread, hospitalizations, illnesses, and deaths. The same will be said in contrast for the unvaccinated population and previously infected but unvaccinated population, considerable study and statistics will also be done on that population – its the nature of science and essentially a very ongoing big public health study on how we have dealt with this pandemic in the US and other countries, what has worked, what hasn’t, and where we are still headed.

    The current US vaccination situation, per NPR, is roughly 346 million doses of vaccine have been administered, 165M fully vaccinated or 49.7% of the total US population by today, August 3. At current rates of vaccination (which seem to be creeping up from July lows) of 690K+ doses/day, 7-day moving average, some projections suggest we reach 70% fully vaccinated by end of March, 2022. As well known, vaccination rates vary considerably among states and regions, so there will be strong interest in how this plays out regarding morbidity and mortality, plus stress on healthcare systems again both short and long term.

    There are no projections yet regarding any boosters of current or delta variant-specific vaccines, although there is a lot of discussions and study and development ongoing regarding its need and eventual efficacy. We here in the US are, IMO, extremely lucky to have this capability and expertise, as compared to many other countries and regions around the world who are less fortunate or able. Many countries are relying on the US, Europe and other nations to provide/donate vaccines to them in order to curb infection and hospitalization rates in their countries.

    As many report, there are still breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated, but the rate is much lower and the bulk of breakthroughs result in much much lower hospitalization rates and subsequent deaths, but its not 100%. What is most concerning at least to me is the Delta variant is much more transmissible, and is negatively affecting a much wider and younger age range of patients (15-50) than the original Alpha version. This isn’t unexpected in pandemics where infections travel in waves among hosts worldwide and mutations and variants appear with altered characteristics.

    1
    August 4, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      The above is still going to weigh on the US and worldwide economy, affect supply lines, markets, and demand for products and services for Apple and its competitors. Like many here, I remain optimistic that Apple is positioned to serve and profit in either a positive or negative scenario, comparisons be damned. I’m not looking for favorable or difficult comparisons with last year, I’m looking for Apple’s ability to continue to grow at a steady, sustained pace on the backs of its R&D, hardware, software, services and continued utility to all of its users. Make that happen, and despite external events, Apple will recover and prosper as it has been doing during the pandemic. Given time and reasonable investor sentiment, AAPL stock price will respond, or at worst, the PE will contract into the low-mid 20’s, the coiled spring yet again.

      1
      August 4, 2021

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