Overnight Health Care: Biden signs first executive actions as president | Amazon offers to help Biden with vaccine distribution | Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden

Overnight Health Care: Biden signs first executive actions as president | Amazon offers to help Biden with vaccine distribution | Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care.

Joe Biden is now president, in case you missed it. And he’s starting off right away with action on COVID-19. 

Let’s begin there:


Biden signs first executive actions as president 

President BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants MORE signed his first executive actions on Wednesday afternoon, hours after being sworn in as the 46th commander in chief.

Biden, wearing a mask while seated at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, signed executive actions mandating mask use on federal property to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus; rejoining the Paris climate agreement; and extending support for underserved communities.

The executive actions are among 17 items that Biden is signing on Wednesday.

"I thought there's no time to wait. Get to work immediately,” Biden told reporters. "There's no time to start like today."

On Wednesday, Biden is also expected to sign an order reversing Trump’s effort to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of the pandemic.

More to come: In total, Biden is expected to sign 53 executive actions over the next 10 days across the areas of climate, the economy, healthcare and immigration, according to a document outlining a schedule for his forthcoming moves that was obtained by The Hill.


Read more here

Amazon offers to help Biden with vaccine distribution

Amazon sent a letter to President Biden in his first hours of office Wednesday offering to assist the new administration with its coronavirus vaccine distribution. 

Dave Clark, Amazon's CEO of consumer business, said the company is willing to help by leveraging Amazon’s “operations, information technology, and communications capabilities” to assist Biden with his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans within his first 100 days in the White House. 

“Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort,” Clark wrote. 

He also said Amazon has an agreement in place with a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to administer vaccines on-site at its facilities. 

“We are prepared to move quickly once vaccines are available,” he added. 

In the letter to Biden, Clark again pushed for Amazon’s more than 800,000 essential workers to be prioritized in vaccine rollouts. 

Read more here.

One of the areas Biden has vowed to improve is vaccine allocation, and to make sure states have accurate and stable projections every week. A prime example of the problem is in New York City:

New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues 

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers had their coronavirus vaccine appointments rescheduled this week due to a lack of supply, Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioAs Trump steps back in the spotlight, will Cuomo exit stage left? NY lawmakers agree to strip Cuomo of pandemic-related emergency powers The Memo: Cuomo's fall raises questions for media MORE (D) said Wednesday.

According to the mayor, a delay in the delivery of Moderna's vaccine contributed to the supply issues, which puts the city's goal of 1 million vaccinations by the end of the month in jeopardy.

"We've had to tell 23,000 New Yorkers who had an appointment this week that they will not be able to get that appointment for lack of supply," de Blasio said during a news conference.


De Blasio and city health commissioner Dave Chokshi said the delayed appointments were for people scheduled to receive their first dose Thursday and Friday, but they were rescheduled for next week.

De Blasio said the federal government needs to give cities and states more information about the supply of vaccines, but said he has confidence it will be better under the new Biden administration.

The mayor said he thinks President Biden will use the Defense Production Act to break through supply bottlenecks.

"Right now the best solution is what the Biden admin is committed to, expanding supply using the Defense Production Act. We need the supply expanded in a huge way and I truly believe that is what the Biden administration will do," de Blasio said.

Read more here.

Pfizer, BioNTech say vaccine likely as effective against COVID-19 variant first found in UK 

A study conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech found that their coronavirus vaccine is likely just as effective against the strain first found in the U.K. that is estimated to be more contagious.


The companies published the study on preprint server bioRxiv, saying that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to be effective against any mutations from the coronavirus variant, called B.1.1.7., that first emerged in the U.K. in September. 

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, concluded that there were “no biologically significant difference in neutralization activity” between trials involving the original COVID-19 strain and B.1.1.7. 

The research on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine found that antibodies in the blood of 16 participants, who had previously received the vaccine, neutralized all mutations from B.1.1.7. Eight of the participants were between 18 and 55, and the other eight were between 56 and 85.

Read more here

Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden

Former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard Pence'QAnon shaman' is 'wounded' Trump hasn't helped him Biden can build on Pope Francis's visit to Iraq The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill MORE on Wednesday delivered a comprehensive report to newly sworn in President Biden detailing the work of the White House coronavirus task force as Biden prepares to reshape aspects of the federal government’s pandemic response.

The 140-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, outlines the Trump administration’s pandemic response dating back to when China first reported a cluster of pneumonia cases originating in Wuhan. 


The report does not address any of the myriad controversies that surrounded the Trump administration’s pandemic response and in some cases hindered the U.S.’s ability to get the virus under control. Instead, it highlights various accomplishments surrounding the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the rapid development of a vaccine.

“With two safe and effective vaccines developed in less than a year through Operation Warp Speed — a medical miracle — a bright light now shines at the end of the tunnel,” the report states. “A nationwide vaccination effort is underway, and every American has good reason to hope that our nation’s long period of trial and tribulation is finally coming to a close.”

Read more here.

What we’re reading 

The 9 biggest challenges Biden will face on Covid-19, from today on (Stat)

Europe’s growing mask ask: Ditch the cloth ones for medical-grade coverings (Washington Post

Biden’s Covid challenge: 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. It won’t be easy. (Kaiser Health News)

State by state

Unlike California, Oregon says keep using Moderna coronavirus vaccine following small number of adverse reactions (Oregon Live)

Frustration grows as Washington region struggles to meet growing demand for coronavirus vaccine (Washington Post)

Massachusetts removes flu vaccine requirement for students (Boston Globe)