The latest on the march toward a successful coronavirus vaccine

Hello, 

It feels so dissonant — the good news about vaccines working at the same time as case counts are rising even higher, New York's shutting down its schools, and states and cities are making the tough decisions to lock back down in the hopes of mitigating even further spread of the virus. 

But that's indeed where we find ourselves in November 2020. How's everyone holding up? Has anyone restarted a hobby? My sourdough starter's back from hibernation as part of the move, ready for a winter's worth of baking. 

Before I jump right in to this week in news (Should I change the name of this newsletter to Insider Vaccines?), a reminder to subscribe to this newsletter here. And pass it along to your friends who might also enjoy daily dispatches of healthcare news! 

Moderna's vaccine win 

On Monday, Moderna said that its vaccine was successful in preventing COVID-19. 

The news came a week after Pfizer and BioNTech also shared that their vaccine was effective. 

After its initial analysis, Moderna found that its vaccine was 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19. As an added bonus: Moderna's shots don't need to be kept at super cold temperatures, unlike Pfizer's version. 

Andrew Dunn talked to Moderna's CEO, who shared that he expects every American will likely have access to a COVID-19 vaccination by June. 

Pfizer, not to be outdone, on Wednesday announced an update to its vaccine results, finding that the shot in a final analysis was 95% effective (In its initial analysis of the data, Pfizer had said that the shot was more than 90% effective). 

It was an optimistic week all around — Bill Gates on Tuesday said he predicts several more vaccines will also be highly effective. That'd be good news, as having more vaccines should help more people around the world get vaccinated. 

But, of course, the vaccine frontrunners haven't been approved yet. Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday morning said that they anticipate applying for an emergency use authorization later that day.

Last week, Andrew chatted with the FDA's Dr. Peter Marks, who laid out why it will take weeks to vet a COVID-19 shot.

Marks, who's in charge of evaluating the vaccines, said the hope is to build up public trust in the process. 

And the shots don't come without some side effects — Moderna noted Monday that about 10% of trial participants had fatigue so serious it interfered with their daily lives. Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce has the story on why experts think the benefits outweigh the side effects. 

For a comprehensive recap on everything you need to know about Moderna's vaccine, Andrew and I have you covered.

Read the full story here>>

Moderna's vaccine is effective at preventing COVID-19, joining Pfizer's shot. Here's what you need to know.

Amazon's long-awaited pharmacy service is here

On Tuesday, Amazon made it official by launching Amazon Pharmacy, selling prescription medications and offering discount services for Prime members paying without insurance.

Pharmacy has been one of Amazon's big bets in healthcare, ever since the tech giant bought PillPack in 2018.

(As a reminder, Blake Dodge mapped out where pharmacy fits in as one of 7 key health ambitions. Read the full analysis here.)

Like we saw in 2018, the news sent a bunch of the stocks in the pharmacy supply chain crashing on Tuesday. 

Wall Street analysts argued that some of that reaction was overblown, especially for two key stocks, Blake reported. That includes one company that works with Amazon Pharmacy, and another that's a clear rival. 

Already, analysts are taking note of how the Prime discounts compare to other cash-pay coupons out there.

What's for sure is that Amazon building up its pharmacy business has implications for all different parts of the healthcare system, from health plans, to retail pharmacies, to startups also looking to shake up the pharmacy world. 

Blake teamed up with Shelby Livingston and Megan Hernbroth to bring you all the full story. 

Read the full story here>>

Amazon just put the entire healthcare industry on notice with its latest push into pharmacy. Here's who stands to win and lose.

Who stands to benefit from vaccine distribution

When she wasn't diving deep into Amazon's impact on the healthcare industry, Shelby was mapping out how much pharmacies, doctor's offices, and hospitals stand to profit from administering coronavirus vaccines.

Ensuring millions and millions of vaccine doses are distributed and administered effectively over the next year is no small feat. Our colleagues on the transportation team have taken a closer look at the role cargo carriers play in vaccine distribution, and which companies stand to win big in the process. 

And, as Shelby found, administering COVID-19 shots could be a $8.5 billion market, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley, with retail pharmacies standing to profit the most. 

Read the full story here>>

Pharmacies, doctor's offices, and hospitals are gearing up to give coronavirus vaccines to millions of Americans. Here's how they're preparing and how much they stand to profit along the way.

Finally, I'll leave you with three stories you might've missed amid the big news week! 

First: Kimberly Leonard has the story on Dr. Vivek Murthy, one of Biden's front-runners for health secretary and his COVID-19 wingman.

She explains why Murthy's résumé and past comments on guns are raising bipartisan concerns over whether he's the right pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Plus: Blake last week chatted with Amwell co-CEO Dr. Ido Schoenberg. He shared the 2 criteria he has when looking for potential acquisitions — and why market share isn't one of those.

Finally: The World Health Organization will not recommend Gilead's antiviral remdesivir for COVID-19 patients, Susie Neilson reports. That's because the drug doesn't seem to boost patients' chances of survival. Even so, the drug was approved by the FDA in October. 

I'll be off next Friday, so your next weekly download on healthcare news will be in your inboxes in December (!). In the meantime, I'm wishing you all safe and restful Thanksgivings. Me, I'll be attempting my first pies at altitude, wish me luck!

In the meantime, if you need to reach us, you can find me at lramsey@businessinsider.com, or you can reach the entire healthcare team at healthcare@businessinsider.com. 

– Lydia

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you’d like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email covidtips@businessinsider.com and tell us your story.

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