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President Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. will buy 20 million courses of Pfizer's COVID antiviral pill Paxlovid, effectively doubling its previous order of 10 million.

Why it matters: Data released by Pfizer in December showed that the pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults.

  • The pill was also granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration late last month.
  • In a statement on Twitter, the president lauded the pills as a "game-changer" in fighting the pandemic.

What they're saying: "I'm pleased to say that on Christmas Eve, we shipped out the first batch of these pills that we received," Biden said. "And more will be shipped this week."

  • "The United States has more pills than any other country in the world and our supply is going to ramp up over the coming months, as more of these pills are manufactured," he added.
  • "Today, I'm directing my team to work with Pfizer to double our order, from 10 million to 20 million treatment courses, to be delivered in the months ahead."
  • "We may need even more than that. That's the estimate we need right now," Biden said, adding that the U.S. had already placed the largest order in the world.

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.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

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