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Patients receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Copes pharmacy in Streatham on February 04 in London, England. Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Vaccine side effect for pharmacies: It's a boon for business.

Why it matters: Pharmacies are at the forefront of the biggest countrywide undertaking of our lifetime, the vaccination rollout.

Then: The onset of the pandemic crushed sales as in-store customers and prescriptions slowed to a crawl.

  • Now: Shots bring people into pharmacies, where they have to hang out during the 15-minute observation period — creating a big opportunity for sales.

Driving the news: The Biden administration this week expanded the number of pharmacies eligible for vaccine supply from the government. (States can allocate doses, too.)

  • Later this month, 40,000 of the nation's 57,000 pharmacies will be able to administer shots — up from 17,000.

The backdrop: Pharmacies had been under pressure as competitors (like Amazon and other big-box retailers) strengthened their foothold.

  • Walgreens expects to "increase traffic" as shots are administered in their stores, then "personalize" what they learn about those customers coming into the store, CEO Rosalind Brewer told analysts Wednesday.
  • The company has upped expectations for how much money it will rake in this year, thanks in part to a more aggressive vaccination timeline — and higher government reimbursements for each shot (now $40 apiece, up from $28 for the first dose and $16 for the second dose — though it's not guaranteed).

By the numbers: Pharmacies have more capacity for shots, if they get supply.

  • CVS said today it has given more than 10 million vaccine doses across 44 states. The chain says it could administer up to 25 million shots per month.
  • Walgreens has administered 8 million vaccines at stores, nursing homes and vaccination sites — with half in March alone.
  • Rite Aid has given more than 1 million vaccines since the beginning of last month.

Go deeper: Demand for vaccines is already waning in some parts of the country

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.