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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

22 hours ago - Health

Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the White House with Jill Biden in 2016. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Amazon's worldwide consumer CEO Dave Clark has offered to help the Biden administration with its coronavirus vaccination goals by mobilizing efforts to inoculate its employees, according to a letter sent to President Biden on Wednesday.

Why it matters: As demand for the coronavirus vaccine is outstripping supply, Amazon has about 800,000 employees, many of whom are essential workers. The Biden administration wants to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days.

Dave Lawler, author of World
12 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 30 mins ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.