What We’re Reading: AstraZeneca to Buy Alexion; CDC Guidance on Vaccine, Allergy Concerns; First Vaccines Headed to States

AstraZeneca has agreed to acquire Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $39 billion; CDC issues coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine guidance for those with a history of severe reactions to vaccines; 2.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses began traveling this past weekend to all 50 states.

AstraZeneca to Buy Alexion for $39B

The Wall Street Journal reports that AstraZeneca has agreed to acquire Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $39 billion, a move that will seek to improve the British drugmaker’s influence in rare diseases. Notably, a majority of Alexion’s $6 billion in annual sales derives from its drug eculizumab (Soliris), which treats a rare blood disorder. Executives of AstraZeneca said the deal will help Alexion expand drug sales in new markets, particularly China, and will reduce infrastructure costs and improve profit margins for the company.

CDC Advises People With History of Severe Allergic Reactions to Get Vaccine

Yesterday, the CDC issued guidance stating that people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Conversely, an earlier proposal issued on Saturday recommended against vaccination for those with severe allergic reactions. As reported by STAT, the CDC’s new guidance says that those who fall into this severe allergy group should discuss risks with their doctors and be monitored for 30 minutes after administration.

First COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments Arriving in States

According to The New York Times, 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine began traveling this past weekend to all 50 states following the FDA’s emergency authorization, with the first injections expected to be administered today to high-risk health care workers. Along with each delivery of the vaccine, states will receive dry ice and special containers to keep the doses sufficiently cold for up to 10 days. Pfizer stated that it can provide up to 25 million doses of the vaccine to the United States by the end of this year.