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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This whole generational conflict thing has gone too far.

The big picture: Pollsters and the media love to play up the differences between Gens Z and X, between millennials and Boomers, but generational borders are always in flux, and who you are has much more to do with where you are in life than who you happen to share birth years with.

What's happening: A piece this week in Canada's Walrus magazine made the case that TikTok is the new front for a generational war between Gen Z and the millennials.

  • This is dumb.
  • Not the story itself, which is a cogent exploration of the unique dynamics of TikTok, but the fact that Gen Z is apparently spending valuable seconds making fun of millennials for their love of Harry Potter.

Don't get me wrong: I love making fun of millennials as much as anyone else, especially if they insist on telling you their Hogwarts house. As a 42-year-old Gen Xer, I've been living in the shadow of that demographic Death Star for years.

Be smart: As Philip Bump noted in the Washington Post in 2015, generations are constantly being recalculated and renamed, which is why Gen X has also been known as "Grunge Kids," "13th Gen" and "20-Nothings."

  • That last one makes my point: What we think of as a fixed generational identity has more to do with where a group of people is in their journey through life.

Details: Gen Z is more progressive and quick to adopt technology? Well, have you ever met a teenager, like, ever?

The catch: Demographic makeup and changing technological options obviously do make a difference from generation to generation, which is why your grandma probably isn't stanning TikTok.

  • But seriously, check out "31 pictures of grandparents who were wildly hot when they were younger." They used to be totally cool, because generally speaking, younger people — not specific generations — are cool.

The bottom line: We all used to be young, and most of us will eventually be old. And that's the most essential generational fact there is.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
7 mins ago - Economy & Business

2021: The year of surprise shortages

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American consumers and businesses face any array of shocking shortages in 2021 — the result of corporate miscalculations in the early days of the pandemic. The shortages range from labor to lumber to rental cars.

Why it matters: As vaccinations rise and the economy grows back to its pre-pandemic size, Americans are tantalized by the prospect of the country reverting to something approaching the familiar old normal. While that might happen eventually, it could take a surprisingly long time for a new equilibrium to establish itself.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
37 mins ago - Health

Why waiving vaccine patents might be a bad idea

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It will take more than waiving patent protections for coronavirus vaccines — which the Biden administration now says it supports — to fix the gaping global divide in access.

Why it matters: Waiving drug companies' intellectual property rights risks setting a bad precedent for future investment in new drugs. And that risk may not be worth it without additional steps to meaningfully increase the availability of shots across the world.

Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus infections in the U.S. are now at their lowest levels in seven months, thanks to the vaccines.

The big picture: The vaccines are turning the tide in America's battle with the coronavirus. Deaths and serious illnesses have dropped significantly, and now cases are falling too — an important piece of protection for the future, if we can keep it up.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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