What We’re Reading: US Buys More Pfizer Vaccine; Walmart Sued Over Opioid Crisis; 2020's Deadly Toll

The Trump administration buys 100 million more doses of Pfizer's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine; the Department of Justice files a suit accusing Walmart of fueling the opioid crisis; 2020 set to become deadliest year in US history.

100 Million More Doses of Pfizer Vaccine Purchased

The Trump administration announced it will purchase an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine. The agreement mandates Pfizer will deliver at least 70 million of the doses by June 30, 2021 and the balance no later than July 31, 2021. According to HHS, the vaccine is being provided at no cost to Americans while administration costs are either covered by insurance or an HHS reimbursement program. The first 100 million doses of the vaccine, which received an emergency use authorization on December 11, are currently being distributed across the country. Rollout of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine also began on December 21.

Walmart Sued by DOJ Over Opioid Crisis

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing Walmart over alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act, which helped fuel the country’s opioid crisis. According to a statement, the DOJ alleged Walmart unlawfully dispensed controlled substances from pharmacies and unlawfully distributed substances to the pharmacies it operated across the country. The civil complaint also accuses Walmart of knowingly operating under an inadequate system for detecting questionable prescriptions, The New York Times reports. In October, Walmart preemptively denied the charges, blaming the crisis on the federal government’s weak enforcement policies.

2020 Set to Be Deadliest Year for United States

According to data from the CDC, 2020 is on track to become the deadliest year in US history, as more than 3 million deaths are expected by the end of December, The Hill reports. The record is due largely in part to deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. If the United States follows on current trends, the country is expected to have 400,000 more deaths recorded in 2020 than in 2019. Usually, deaths rise by about 20,000 to 50,000 each year due to an aging population. Johns Hopkins University data show the United States has thus far reported over 18 million COVID-19 infections and more than 319,000 deaths related to the virus.