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President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden said on Friday that when he takes office, he'll release nearly all available coronavirus vaccines for distribution, instead of holding some back for second doses.

Why it matters: This could help more people get a first dose of the vaccine sooner, and a person familiar with the administration's planning told WSJ that the decision won't change the timing between doses. But there's no guarantee that the policy won't delay second doses.

  • "The only risk is the second dose could be delayed a few weeks," said former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, adding that the risk is small and he believes we should stick to the existing two-dose schedule.
  • "I don't know that you need to distribute everything, but you don't need to stockpile 55%."

The big picture: The argument for releasing all available doses immediately is simple: The virus is spreading — and killing — at an unprecedented rate across the U.S., and giving more people some protection could save lives in the immediate term.

  • While delayed second doses would be an unintentional result of the Biden policy, some countries, including the U.K., have decided to intentionally delay second doses to stretch supplies.

The other side: The available vaccines have only been tested with second doses administered either three or four weeks after the first, and it's unknown how well alternative strategies work.

  • Some experts also question whether sending out more doses will solve the current distribution problems.
  • Making dosage changes isn't justified "both because it’s not supported by the data that we do have, and because it doesn't address the actual problem currently facing the UK, the US, and Canada, which is the distribution of existing supplies," Georgetown's Angela Rasmussen and the University of Alberta's Ilan Schwartz write in The Guardian.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.