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FDA set to authorize third COVID vaccine dose for immunocompromised people

The Food and Drug Administration will update its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines as early as Thursday to allow immunocompromised people to get a third dose, a source familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: Data suggest that people with weakened immune systems don't generate strong enough levels of protection agains the virus with just two doses, but a third dose could significantly help.


The big picture: Scientists have debated who should receive booster shots and when, as the highly contagious Delta variant drives up the number of new cases across the country.

  • 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.

State of play: In July, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged action on additional doses for immunocompromised people, per NBC News.

  • In July, Israel became the first country to offer booster shots for immunocompromised people and seniors.
  • Germany and the U.K. have also announced they plan to offer boosters starting September.
  • Yes, but: The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on booster shots through at least September to allow for poorer countries to have access to doses.

What to watch: The ACIP will meet Friday to make recommendations on booster shots of the immunocompromised.

Go deeper: The CDC's booster messaging mess

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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