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Photo: Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Since United Airlines' COVID-19 vaccine mandate went into effect last summer, no employee has died, CEO Scott Kirby said in a letter to employees.

Driving the news: Kirby said that prior to the vaccine mandate, "tragically, more than one United employee on average *per week* was dying from COVID,” but "we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees."

  • He said in the letter that there are approximately 3,000 employees who have tested positive for the virus but added that no vaccinated employee is hospitalized.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Joann Muller: Kirby got out in front of corporate America with his controversial vaccine mandate and defended the decision by saying he was tired of seeing employees die. With this letter, he seems to be vindicated.

State of play: Thousands of flights were canceled during the holidays due to the Omicron surge.

  • Kirby said in his letter that "[w]hile we go to great lengths to avoid cancelling flights," United has "been able to get a high percentage of our customers on other flights and close to their original arrival time."

What he's saying: "Since our vaccine policy went into effect, the hospitalization rate among our employees has been 100x lower than the general population in the U.S.," Kirby said.

  • "[B]ased on United’s prior experience and the nationwide data related to COVID fatalities among the unvaccinated, that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement."

Flashback: Kirby told Axios in August that he was tired of seeing his employees die from the virus: "For me, the fact that people are 300 times more likely to die if they’re unvaccinated is all I need to know ... It's about saving lives."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.

Exclusive: YouTube shuts down two Oath Keepers channels

Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers. (Photo: Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

YouTube has deactivated two channels linked to the Oath Keepers militia group whose members have been charged in relation to the January 6 Capitol riot, the company told Axios.

The big picture: Social media platforms that were used to plan or promote the Capitol attack have moved with varying degrees of speed to bar the accounts involved.