Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The Biden administration is expected to soon recommend booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone, but that decision fails fundamental ethics tests, according to interviews with physicians and medical ethicists.

Why it matters: There is still a global shortage of vaccines. Even amid concerns of the spreading Delta variant, experts say it's difficult to justify a third dose for relatively healthy people in the U.S. when many others haven't gotten their first.

Driving the news: The booster shots would likely be administered around eight months after someone received their two mRNA vaccine doses from Pfizer or Moderna, or after their single Johnson & Johnson shot, according to initial reports.

  • An independent CDC panel and the FDA have not signed off on this plan yet.
  • This possible plan comes a week after the CDC and FDA formally recommended the nation's 9 million immunocompromised people get a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • Data have indicated for months that the immunocompromised, especially organ transplant patients, were less protected from the two-shot course.
  • A third dose for the immunocompromised is reasonable, ethicists say, because three doses should have been their default regimen, and it will give a boost in protection to a group that is more likely to end up in the hospital from COVID-19.

Yes, but: "Once you get to anybody who wants to get a third dose, then I think other people in other countries start to have a rightful basis for complaint," said Govind Persad, a health policy and ethics professor at the University of Denver.

  • The vaccines appear to be less effective as time goes on, but there's no rigorous data quantifying that yet.
  • The vaccines still prevent almost all instances of death and hospitalization from severe disease.
  • The risk of vaccinated people with normal immune systems passing the Delta variant on to other vaccinated people also appears very low.
  • Meanwhile, the coronavirus is raging in low-vaccinated places like Botswana, Cuba and Iran, which "translates into disparities in mortality rates from COVID-19," ethicists wrote in JAMA last week.

"We have people in sizable numbers who have zero protection," said Ruth Faden, a bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University and member of the World Health Organization's panel that advised against boosters except for high-risk people. "The global ethics case is clear."

Reality check: The U.S. has bought enough vaccine doses to immunize everyone, and that stockpile has come at the expense of other countries.

  • Experts agree no vaccine should be wasted or allowed to expire, and it also may not be logistically feasible for the U.S. to ship some of its surplus doses elsewhere.
  • But variants have become a top concern precisely because of the maldistribution of vaccines.
  • "This virus has proven what most pathogens do: They mutate," said Doug Diekema, a bioethicist and physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. "The best way to stop that is to stop transmission, and to do that, you have to get as many people vaccinated as possible."

The bottom line: "The Delta variant didn't come from nowhere," Faden said. "To have a better chance of containing this pandemic, we have a self-interested reason in seeing vaccination coverage go up in people outside of our country."

Go deeper

20 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Biden to get booster shot on camera — Pfizer vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The booster vaccine discussion is far from over.
  2. Health: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years — U.S. death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities — Chicago has highest case rates in city worker neighborhoods.
  3. Politics: Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home — Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive — Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers.
  4. Education: D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, and that his vaccination against the virus prevented a more severe infection.

What they're saying: "Today, I tested positive for COVID-19," Ryan wrote on Twitter. "While I’m currently experiencing mild symptoms, I’m grateful to have the protection of a safe and effective vaccine — and I know without it, this illness could be much, much worse."

  • "What we have learned over the last year and a half is that we are in this together, and I urge all Ohioans to help us crush this pandemic by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated so that we can get back to normal."