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The Olympic rings near the venue for the opening ceremony ahead of the Winter Games. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

North and South Korea have agreed to form their first joint Olympic team, and will march together under a unified Korea flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games next month, reports Reuters. They also agreed to field a joint women's ice hockey team after rare talks at the village of Panmunjom.

Why it matters: The move is a sign of reduced tensions in the region after talks between the two countries, and further underscores South Korean President Moon Jae-in's hope that the Games could bring about positive movements toward peace between the two Koreas.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
11 mins ago - Economy & Business

2021: The year of surprise shortages

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American consumers and businesses face any array of shocking shortages in 2021 — the result of corporate miscalculations in the early days of the pandemic. The shortages range from labor to lumber to rental cars.

Why it matters: As vaccinations rise and the economy grows back to its pre-pandemic size, Americans are tantalized by the prospect of the country reverting to something approaching the familiar old normal. While that might happen eventually, it could take a surprisingly long time for a new equilibrium to establish itself.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
40 mins ago - Health

Why waiving vaccine patents might be a bad idea

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It will take more than waiving patent protections for coronavirus vaccines — which the Biden administration now says it supports — to fix the gaping global divide in access.

Why it matters: Waiving drug companies' intellectual property rights risks setting a bad precedent for future investment in new drugs. And that risk may not be worth it without additional steps to meaningfully increase the availability of shots across the world.

Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus infections in the U.S. are now at their lowest levels in seven months, thanks to the vaccines.

The big picture: The vaccines are turning the tide in America's battle with the coronavirus. Deaths and serious illnesses have dropped significantly, and now cases are falling too — an important piece of protection for the future, if we can keep it up.