Moderna is on the cusp of getting its COVID-19 vaccine authorized

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Hi,

Happy Friday! In a sign that it's been quite a long week (two weeks, really), I'm so sorry for sending an energy-focused newsletter to you earlier this morning. 

(Though if you are interested in more energy reporting, do subscribe to Benji Jones' newsletter Insider Energy here! More great stories and dog photos await.) 

Let's get right into the healthcare news, then. It's been a week of vetting Moderna's vaccine, getting the scoop on Amazon's latest healthcare ambitions, and seeing how vaccine distribution is playing out.

Moderna; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Moderna's vaccine is teed up for an FDA green light

On the heels of the Food and Drug Administration giving Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine the green light late Friday night, the regulatory body spent this past week vetting Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.

On Tuesday, the FDA released more details about how safe and effective Moderna's shots are. 

As Andrew Dunn reports, more than nine in 10 people immunized with Moderna's vaccine experienced some level of side effects. Most side effects were mild or moderate, though about 17% of those who received the vaccine reported severe side effects including pain, fever, and headache.

Here are the common side effects you should expect.

While Andrew was digging into the side effects, Hilary Brueck took a closer look at how well Moderna's vaccine works.

One chart in particular in the FDA's documents shows how effective Moderna's vaccine is at preventing people from getting COVID-19.

Hilary and Andrew then spent part of the week taking a look at the evidence around both Pfizer and Moderna's coronavirus vaccines. 

Here's a comprehensive look at how the two stack up, from side effects, to what the data can/can't tell us about the vaccines at this point. 

That culminated yesterday with a full-day meeting with the FDA advisory committee, which ultimately voted in favor of recommending Moderna's shot (20 voted yes, while one abstained). Now all eyes are on the FDA to issue an emergency use authorization.

Andrew and Hilary were around all day giving play-by-play updates on the meeting. 

Read the full recap here>>

FDA expert panel endorses Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, clearing the way for regulators to green-light the shot

Inside Amazon's latest health ambitions

Somewhere far away from vaccine-land, Blake Dodge has been chasing the story of how Amazon is pushing deeper into healthcare, specifically with its health service Amazon Care.

Publicly unveiled in 2019, Amazon Care has been a pilot for Amazon employees in Seattle and later Washington state. Through an app, employees can get online or in-person care for basic medical concerns like fevers and coughs. 

But as Blake reported, Amazon's ambitions go beyond its own employees. It wants to sell Amazon Care to other large companies. It's already pitched at least one: Zillow. 

Markets took note (as they often do when more is revealed about Amazon's healthcare plans). On Wednesday after her report, telemedicine stocks like Teladoc and Amwell took a hit. 

Amazon's plans to sell Amazon Care come as Haven — the joint health venture Amazon is a part of with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway — is moving away from a focus on primary care as its approach to tackle the rising costs of healthcare facing large employers. Read more about the dynamics between Haven and Amazon Care here. 

Already read Blake's reporting on Amazon Care and want more? Tune in to hear us chat more about it. It'll be like this newsletter, but in Zoom form (what could be better?) You can register here.

And in case you missed it on Wednesday…

Read Blake's full scoop here>>

Amazon wants to provide medical care to workers at major companies. Here's an inside look at Amazon Care.

Hospitals across the US spent the week administering Pfizer's vaccine

With an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine under its belt, Pfizer started distributing shots to sites around the US. 

On Sunday, the world got a look at the first vaccine doses rolling out of Pfizer's Michigan factory.

Then on Monday, New York administered its first vaccine outside of a trial to Sandra Lindsay, a nurse in Queens.

Allana Akhtar spoke to Lindsay about the experience. You can read the full Q&A here.

Meanwhile, CVS Health, one of the pharmacies that'll play a big role in distributing vaccines beyond hospitals, is giving its workers a $250 pandemic bonus. Shelby Livingston has the scoop here. 

Shelby also spent the week seeing vaccinations take place in-person, as well as detailing the logitsical challenges of getting vaccines distributed to healthcare workers across rural areas. One (Sanford Health) has enlisted a fleet of minivans to shuttle vaccines across the Dakotas and Minnesota. 

Read the full story here>>

How one hospital system is relying on a fleet of Dodge minivans to make sure healthcare workers in remote areas can get their COVID shots

More stories you might've missed this week:

  • Zach Tracer and Megan Hernbroth had the scoop on the presentation two ex-Aetna execs used to raise $40 million for the new healthcare AI startup Well Dot. Read it here.
  • Oscar Health raised $140 million in a round led by Tiger Global Management, the company said on Thursday. To date, Oscar has raised $1.6 billion.
  • Verily raised $700M from existing investors, the company said Thursday. 
  • Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce spoke to Clara Burtenshaw, the lawyer who started the UK's first dedicated psychedelics venture fund. Burtenshaw laid out how she placed her initial bets.

With that, I believe this might be the final Friday recap newsletter of 2020. I'll be in your inbox to start the week with some more great stories from the team before signing off for a bit of cookie-baking and skiing. 

Need me in the meantime? Reach me at [email protected], or you can reach our entire team at [email protected]

– Lydia

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