Why it matters: The U.S. faces a range of health care flashpoints — unaffordable drugs, opioids, vaping — as we debate whether to adopt universal care. For now, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but Republicans want to issue it a final death blow.

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15 mins ago - Health

U.S. to buy 500 million more Pfizer doses to share with the world

A nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The Biden administration is planning to purchase 500 million more Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses to donate to the world, officials said in an op-ed Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move represents a big step toward making the U.S. a major global vaccine supplier just as China has ramped up exports of its Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino vaccines, which can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures.

36 mins ago - Health

Chicago mayor angry with slow pace of lead line removal

A worker in Detroit removes a lead pipe that connected the water main to a home. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios.

Last September, Mayor Lori Lightfoot became the first Chicago mayor to launch a plan to remove Chicago's toxic lead service lines — pipes that connect most Chicago homes to the water main.

  • The plan aimed to remove 650 lead lines from low-income homes in the first year using $15 million in federal block grants.
Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Care for kidney disease plummeted in the pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The number of patient visits for chronic kidney care plummeted by more than 26% in the early months of the pandemic, according to new data from the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group.

Why it matters: Researchers are racing to understand just how much care people skipped — and whether it actually affected their health.

3 hours ago - Health

Walgreens invests deeper in hospital specialty pharmacies

More hospitals are opening their own specialty pharmacies. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walgreens paid $970 million to increase its ownership of Shields Health Solutions — a company that helps hospitals run their own specialty pharmacies — from 23% to 71%.

Why it matters: Standard Walgreens pharmacies are ubiquitous throughout the country, but this deal will give Walgreens a bigger position in specialty pharmacies, which handle pricey medications for complex conditions and have become very lucrative.

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (left) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photos: Montinique Monroe and Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Education Department is investigating Texas' ban on mask mandates and its possible violation of disability rights.

Why it matters: Texas is one of several states under investigation for mask mandate bans that have impacted schools across the U.S.

Mike Allen, author of AM
15 hours ago - Health

Manufacturers warn COVID rapid test shortages are coming

At-home COVID-19 test. Photo: Abbott via AP

Manufacturers are warning that the U.S. is, at best, weeks away from the production levels needed for President Biden's plan of mass-scale rapid COVID-19 testing.

The big picture: The U.S. has been far more cautious than places like Britain about embracing rapid, at-home testing, AP notes.

Massachusetts State Police union sues over governor's vaccine mandate

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Photo: Amanda Sabga/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The Massachusetts State Police union has filed a lawsuit to delay Gov. Charlie Baker's (R) coronavirus vaccine mandate, which requires state employees to get the shot by Oct. 17 or face termination.

Why it matters: The union represents 1,800 members and is asking a judge to postpone the vaccination requirement so it has time to bargain, the Boston Globe notes. Troopers would undergo "irreparable harm" otherwise, the lawsuit said.

15 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine could be available for children 5–11 in "weeks"

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN Tuesday that children ages 5–11 could be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the next several weeks.

Why it matters: The start of the school year brought a rise in COVID-19 infections among kids, underscoring questions about when younger children will be able to be inoculated against the virus.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Gracias, México, for color TVs

The patent diagram (left) from Guillermo González Camarena's chromoscopic adapter, and he and the engineer (right inspecting TV equipment around 1955 in Mexico City. Photos: U.S. Patent Office and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México

Credit Mexican engineering and entrepreneurship for developments that led to the in color television, oral contraception and finding a way to help mend the ozone layer.

Why it matters: The contributions helped modernize how we could see the world; improve women's health and expand women's roles beyond the home; and identify dangerous emissions and how to reduce them.

Updated 20 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.

Ipsos poll: Support growing for abortion rights in Latin America

Members of feminist groups in Saltillo, Mexico, after the decriminalization of abortion was approved in Coahuila, Mexico. Photo: Antonio Ojeda/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Support for abortion rights in some Latin American countries has jumped considerably since 2014, with Argentina seeing the biggest shift, an Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: The view that abortion should be permitted at least under certain circumstances is held by a majority of adults surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot increases efficacy of COVID vaccine

Syringes and a vial of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in French Polynesia on Sept. 8. Photo: Jerome Brouillet/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release Tuesday a global study showed that the protection offered by its coronavirus vaccine was strengthened by a booster shot.

Why it matters: While J&J has not formally applied for authorization to offer booster shots to the general public, it said it has shared the results of the study with the Food and Drug Administration and plans to share it with the World Health Organization and other health regulators.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says. 
Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Health care profits for me, but not for thee

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In July, the head of the American Hospital Association blasted UnitedHealth Group for its "jaw-dropping" profits in the second quarter. But an analysis of financial documents shows a sample of large not-for-profit hospital systems that collectively generated the same amount of revenue as the insurance giant were almost three times more profitable than UnitedHealth.

Reality check: Companies and lobbying groups often paint their business foes as the primary problems with the health care system, but each sector contributes to the system's dysfunction.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Democrats' case for prioritizing health care policies

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Reproduced from Hart Research Associates; Chart: Axios Visuals

Health care advocates are making the case that the pieces of Democrats' legislative agenda that lower health care costs and expand coverage are the most popular with voters — and should thus be prioritized.

Why it matters: Democrats are trying to figure out what topline spending number they have to work with for their reconciliation package. The lower that number goes, the more the party will have to cut from the package.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years

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Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

White House endorses bill that would ensure abortion access

Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The White House endorsed a bill Monday that seeks to ensure abortion access.

Why it matters: While the Supreme Court seems to be opening the door to new state laws significantly restricting reproductive health choices, the Biden administration changed its stance on the Women's Health Protection Act, having previously said it would look for other ways to codify Roe v. Wade.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Biden to get booster shot on camera

Photo: Saul Loeb/ AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will receive his COVID booster shot on camera once it's fully approved for Americans ages 65 and older, the White House said Monday.

Why it matters: A federal advisory panel unanimously voted last week to recommend that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) authorize a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine for people over the age of 65 and those at higher risk of infection.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

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