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A collection of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches. (Photo: Fitbit)

Fitbit said Tuesday it is buying Twine Health, a small Boston-based startup that helps people manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Why it matters: Fitbit has been increasingly focused on the health space as an avenue of growth, working to show its devices can monitor and improve health, not just count steps and track sleep.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter; financial terms weren't disclosed. Twine CEO John Moore will become Fitbit's medical director.

Fitbit has been pitching its devices to insurance providers and is looking to the Twine deal to make that case more compelling.

Our thought bubble: While fitness trackers and smartwatches have found a niche audience, true health applications could transform them from nice-to-have gadgets to a necessity. Fitbit, along with Apple and Samsung, have been working with the FDA to make it easier for health technologies to gain regulatory approval.

Go deeper

Cold December as safety nets expire

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Safety nets are likely to be yanked from underneath millions of vulnerable Americans in December, as the coronavirus surges.

Why it matters: Those most at risk are depending on one or more relief programs that are set to expire, right as the economic recovery becomes more fragile than it's been in months.

15 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

17 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.