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Photo: Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

AstraZeneca will begin trials to test whether its experimental coronavirus vaccine can be successfully combined with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, the company announced on Friday.

Why it matters: Both AstraZeneca's and Russia's vaccines have raised questions among experts around their separate trials. Russia has not completed advanced studies on the vaccine to ensure whether it is safe and adheres to scientific protocols. AstraZeneca's vaccine is reported to be about 62% effective, but some patients accidentally received a modified dosing regimen during trials.

The big picture: The announcement comes days after the developers of the Sputnik V vaccine proposed on Twitter that AstraZeneca combine its shot with Russia's.

Details: The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund which has funded the development of Sputnik V, said clinical trials with AstraZeneca’s would begin by the end of the month, per CNBC.

  • The trial will begin enrolling adults aged 18 years and older.

Worth noting: Last week, Russia began distributing its vaccine — which they report to be 90% effective — in Moscow, announcing that 5,000 people had signed up to be inoculated in the city.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 19, 2021 - World

Biden will bring U.S. into COVAX vaccine initiative, Blinken says

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken announced in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that President-elect Biden would bring the U.S. into the COVAX initiative — the global effort from the World Health Organization and other groups to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Why it matters: Virtually the entire world has signed onto COVAX, apart from the U.S. and Russia. It's expected to be the only source of vaccines for some of the world's poorest countries, and it needs additional funding to fulfill its goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population in every country by the end of 2021.

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

U.S. surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Trump's final full day in office

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

Over 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: It only took a little over a month for the U.S. to reach this mass casualty after 300,000 COVID deaths were reported last month. That's over 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."