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Photo: Patrick Meinhardt/AFP via Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the bloc would donate an additional 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses to Africa and low-income nations, AP reports.

Why it matters: The new donation, slated to be delivered by the middle of next year, comes as confirmed cases of the coronavirus have reached 225 million globally.

  • African health officials have said they need nearly 800 million doses to inoculate at least 60% of the continent's population, per AP.
  • The EU had previously pledged 250 million doses earlier this year.

What they're saying: “Our first and most urgent priority is to speed up global vaccination,” von der Leyen said in a State of the European Union speech Wednesday.

  • “With less than 1% of global doses administered to lower-income countries, the scale of injustice and the level of urgency is obvious," she added.
  • “Let’s do everything possible to ensure that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

The big picture: The World Health Organization has become increasingly critical of wealthy nations that are developing plans to administer booster shots this year, arguing that the doses should be used to vaccinate people in poorer countries.

Go deeper: WHO warns Africa's COVID vaccine supply will drop by 25%

Go deeper

The Omicron wave begins

Expand chart
Note: Maryland is unable to report new cases due to a technical issue; Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

U.S. coronavirus cases rose by 27% over the last two weeks as the Omicron variant quickly became dominant, although the rise was unevenly distributed around the country.

Why it matters: The spike in cases in cities like New York and D.C. are likely a preview of what will soon hit other parts of the country.

Updated Dec 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Omicron surge and storms disrupt air travel for 4th straight day

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Another 1,000 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Monday due to COVID-19 outbreaks among crews for a fourth straight day, with storms in the Pacific Northwest adding to the chaos, AP reports.

Why it matters: Thousands of customers have been affected by the latest pandemic-driven travel disruptions since Christmas Eve, with airlines including United blaming a "nationwide spike in Omicron cases" in recent days.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Political consultants pocket taxpayer cash

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Members of Congress are turning to the same political consultants who got them elected to blast out taxpayer-funded communications from their government offices, records show.

Why it matters: While those members are barred from politicking with official funds, the firms have expertise in boosting elected officials' images for political gain and are in high demand for both campaign and government work.