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Biden administration unveils plan for vaccine boosters starting in September

The Biden administration's top health officials announced Wednesday that beginning the week of Sept. 20, Americans who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will be offered a booster shot eight months after their second dose.

Why it matters: The decision reflects a desire by the administration to get ahead of declining vaccine effectiveness, as the highly contagious Delta variant drives a new surge in infections across the country.


  • Officials said they expect to recommend booster shots for people who received the single-dose J&J vaccine, but are waiting for more data in the next few weeks before laying out a plan.
  • The plan is still subject to approval by the FDA and a CDC advisory committee. The new round of inoculations will prioritize individuals vaccinated earliest in the pandemic, including health care workers and seniors.

What they're saying: "The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant," top officials from the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

  • But they added: "Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout."
  • "For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability."

Between the lines: Giving Americans third doses of the COVID-19 vaccines poses ethical concerns, given the vaccine shortages that plague many countries around the world.

  • Uneven global distribution of the vaccines helped lead to the mutation of more dangerous variants in the first place, experts say.

The big picture: The FDA has already authorized a third vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised people, including "solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise."

  • About 2.7% of U.S. adults are immunocompromised, a group that encompasses people that are undergoing cancer treatment, living with HIV, or are organ transplant recipients, among others, according to the CDC.
  • More than 1 million people in the U.S. have received unauthorized booster shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, according to an internal CDC briefing document obtained by ABC News.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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