Axios PM

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August 18, 2021

Good afternoon. Today's PM — edited by Neal Rothschild — is 405 words, a 1.5-minute read.

⚡️ Bulletin: Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in the UAE "on humanitarian grounds," the Gulf state said. Go deeper.

1 big thing: Booster blowback

A vaccine needle in the shape of a 3

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Today's announcement that all Americans will be eligible for COVID-19 boosters eight months after their second dose was met with skepticism at home and opposition abroad, Axios' Neal Rothschild writes.

  • Many public health experts criticized the decision as premature or even unethical, and that eight months is too long — vulnerability can return as soon as five months after the second dose.
  • The WHO slammed the U.S. for planning third shots while so many around the world haven't had their first.

Starting Sept. 20, Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should expect to be offered a third dose.

  • On the J&J vaccine, Biden health officials say they're waiting for more data before making the recommendation for a booster shot.

The big picture: There's still a global shortage of vaccines, and the announcement will only increase the pressure on the U.S. to do more to vaccinate the rest of the world.

  • Physicians and medical ethicists say it's difficult to justify a third dose for relatively healthy people given the global need.

2. Betting transforms sports culture

$100 dollar bills stacked with each layer getting bigger

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As sports betting emerges from the shadows, it's seeping into every aspect of fandom, Axios Sports author Kendall Baker writes.

  • In the stadium: North America's first in-arena sportsbook opened in D.C. in May. Others are coming to Chicago and Phoenix.
  • During commercials: The NFL is allowing networks to sell six ad spots per game to sportsbooks.
  • In the media: ESPN, Fox and other networks have deals with betting operators, and publications are increasingly promoting sportsbooks through affiliate links.

Go deeper.

3. Catch up quick

Mark Zuckerberg speaks to CBS This Morning

Screenshot: "CBS This Morning"

  1. Mark Zuckerberg told Gayle King for tomorrow's "CBS This Morning" that Facebook has taken down 18 million pieces of COVID misinformation, but didn't say how many people viewed them. See a clip.
  2. Pope Francis urged everyone to get vaccinated, calling it "an act of love." Watch the PSA.
  3. Mic drop: Garth Brooks canceled his next five tour stops due to the latest COVID wave.

4. Free vax at Midwest state fairs

A pharmacist fills a syringe for a COVID-19 vaccination

Hy-Vee pharmacist Tiffany Aljets fills a vaccine syringe in Des Moines on Monday. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Free COVID vaccinations are being offered at state fairs in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the AP reports.

  • 150 shots were administered in the first four days of Iowa's fair, out of more than 400,000 attendees.
  • Wisconsin's fair produced 608 vaccinations.

5. 🐼 Two pandas to go

Twin panda cubs are held in human hands

Photo: He Haiyang/VCG via Getty Images

Twin pandas in Sichuan, China, turn 1 month old.