What We're Reading: First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses in UK; Biden Picks HHS Secretary, CDC Director; New Drug Pricing Rule Challenged

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine doses to be administered this week in UK; President-elect Joe Biden nominates HHS secretary, CDC director; Biotechnology Innovation Organization sues to block new international drug pricing policy.

First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine to Be Given in the UK

As the first Western country to issue approval for emergency use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), residents of the United Kingdom (UK) will be the first to receive the vaccine, with some doses being administered as early as this week. Reported by NPR, the initial batch of the vaccine arrived in the UK last week and is scheduled to first be given to nursing home residents, health care workers, and people aged 80 and over. The UK government’s initial order of 40 million doses will vaccinate 20 million people.

Biden Nominates HHS Secretary, CDC Director

Reported by Reuters, President-elect Joe Biden has made his selections for 2 public health positions, HHS secretary and CDC director. He has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts General Hospital's Chief of Infectious Diseases Rochelle Walensky, respectively. The move comes as Biden prepares to take office next month in the midst of record cases of COVID-19 and a daily death toll that has exceeded 2000 in recent days.

BIO to File Lawsuit on Trump International Drug Pricing Policy

Reported by STAT, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) filed a lawsuit on Friday to block implementation of President Donald Trump’s new international drug pricing policy to lower drug prices. Also known as "most favored nations” policy, this policy was presented last month by the Trump administration, and it would decrease what Medicare pays for 50 injectable drugs to the lowest price paid in countries like Japan and Belgium. The move is said to potentially cut reimbursement for some of the best-selling drugs in the United States by half or more.