Pandemic Diary: Innovation, Supply and Demand

As America works its way through lockdown and opening up again, some news and trends show up. Sometimes they make me smile, while other times I just shake my head. They may be planned or unexpected.

Some of the recent developments that have grabbed my attention follow the law of supply and demand. Others would could never have occurred without a global lockdown. Whether you smile or grimace is up to you.

Hydrox Cookies and Corona Beer

Perhaps it was inevitable that a coronavirus would affect sales of Corona Beer. In fact, people stated that to be the case on FaceBook and used the confusion to question the intelligence of the American people.

Corona Beer, Grupo Modelo, coronavirusTurns out those posts were malicious and inaccurate. Constellation Brands, which produces Corona claims U.S. sales are up in the early part of the year. Grupo Modelo, the company that makes the beer, Tweeted early in April that it’s halting production and marketing of Corona because the Mexican government had shuttered non-essential businesses.

Hydrox Cookies, Leaf Brands, hydroxychloroquineOn the other hand, sales of Hydrox cookies jumped as soon as President Trump announced that he was taking hydroxychloroquine prophylactically. Granted, the first six letters of both cookie and medicine are the same and searches don’t amount to sales. But, still, one wonders how many people typed “hydrox,” said, “cookie!” and stopped right there. Sometimes the law of supply and demand goes sideways.

The Sea Turtle Scamper

We know that the global pandemic has benefited our environment. Air and water returned to clean and clear once freed of twice-daily commutes, belching smokestacks, flowing sewage, and other contaminants. We have also seen videos of animals from penguins to wild goats strolling down streets of towns and cities.

sea turtles, hatchlings, migration, beach, surfOther animals have profited from the human lockdown as well. This year’s annual hatching of sea turtles proceeded smoothly without interference from human beach-goers, for example. Lights, beach furniture and sunbathers can all frighten a female sea turtle away from coming onshore to lay her eggs.

Scientists from Florida to Thailand have reported larger numbers of nests than usual for green, leatherback, and loggerhead turtles. When we have fewer people on the beach the hatchlings don’t have to navigate so many obstacles between the nest and the water. More importantly, the little guys don’t get entangled in so much plastic garbage carelessly tossed  on the sand as they scamper for the surf.

The Great Amphibian Migration

Likewise, salamanders, frogs, newts, peepers and other amphibians are getting a better shot at survival because of the pandemic. At this time of year, the they crawl into vernal pools to mate and a new generation hatches or they go out to live onto the woodland floor. The amphibians make their way through an obstacle course along the way, the worst of which are roads and speeding cars.

Listen to the spring peepers.

With traffic way down because of the lockdown, however, the amphibian migrations have a clearer path and a better chance of survival. While no one knows what the impact will be—scientists are watching carefully—the pandemic is providing us with a big experiment that would otherwise be unthinkable.

The Law of Supply and Demand

Lastly, the pandemic demonstrates how the law of supply and demand works. When the pandemic began and we were told to wear masks, we looked high and low for somewhere to buy and order them. People who sew sat down at their machines and started producing them. I have several of these homemade masks.

Star Trek, face masks, Covid-19, coronavirus, pandemic, lockdown, supply and demandIn a few short weeks, however, we began to see ads for professionally made masks. And not just that: we can now wear masks that advertise our favorite sports teams and cars. Star Trek masks, funny masks and scary masks. We can wear masks with dog or cat faces, fangs, or great paintings. You name it and the mask is out there.

But wait, there’s more! Sometimes wearing a mask can be uncomfortable and they can cut off circulation behind your ears. Not to worry, innovation has come to the rescue. The other day I saw an ad for a plastic band that wraps around the back of one’s head and provides several places to hook the mask, thus freeing up your ears from painful elastic loops.

Personally, I’m waiting for a mask with a flap on it, like old long-johns, so we can eat in a restaurant without taking off our mask. If Covid-19 surges in states that have opened up, this will be inevitable. How about a mask with a hole for a straw? Or a mask guaranteed not to fog up your glasses?

The Next Round

See? Where there’s a demand, there will be a supply. It’s how capitalism works and fortunes are made.

Your guess is as good as mine for what comes next with either Covid-19 or the products developed around it. With a vaccine scheduled for second-round tests in July, we could soon see buttons that say, “I got vaccinated.” Tee shirts. Tattoos, Ball caps. People have already suggested vaccination passports that grant you access to a theater or sports stadium.

TB12 Immunity Vitamins, Tom Brady, supply and demand, Covid-19, pandemicConsider this: with Covid-19 cases increasing in Orlando, Florida, new local boy Tom Brady is selling $45 “immunity vitamins.”

TB12 proves that anyone with enough creativity and some capitalization can profit from almost anything. Innovation works hand in hand with supply and demand.


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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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