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Overnight Health Care: Biden touts 300 million vaccine doses in 150 days | Biden warns of ‘potentially deadlier’ delta variant | Public option fades with little outcry from progressives

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. A journalist who placed last in his fantasy football league had to spend 24 hours in a Waffle House as punishment. Every waffle he ate cut an hour from the time, and 15 hours and nine waffles later, he walked free. Check out his journey from his Twitter thread.  

If you have any tips, email us at nweixel@thehill.com, psullivan@thehill.com and jcoleman@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter at @NateWeixel, @PeterSullivan4, and @JustineColeman8. 

Today: President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy ‘continues to work effectively’ keeps me ‘up at night’ New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE celebrated that the U.S. has distributed 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses within his 150 days in office. The president also issued a warning about the delta variant, and the push for a public option has faded with little outburst from progressives. 

We’ll start with the 300 million doses:

Biden touts 300 million vaccine doses in 150 days

President Biden on Friday marked a new milestone in the fight against the coronavirus — 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered during his first 150 days in office.

“Together, we built an unparalleled vaccination program and managed one of the biggest and most complicated logistical challenges in American history,” he continued. “What we’re seeing is a truly American accomplishment.”

Caveat: Biden looks increasingly likely to fall short of his goal of vaccinating 70 percent of U.S. adults by July 4. Currently, 65 percent of Americans age 18 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A White House fact sheet distributed to reporters on Friday notes that 15 states and Washington, D.C., have met or exceeded the benchmark of 70 percent of adults with at least one vaccine dose. About half of U.S. states and D.C. have fully vaccinated more than half of their adult populations.

However, vaccinations are lagging in other areas of the country, particularly in red states.

Read more here

Another reason to get vaccinated: Biden warns of ‘potentially deadlier’ delta variant 

Biden on Friday pleaded with Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so as soon as possible, citing the danger posed by the new delta variant.

“Even while we’re making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said in remarks from the White House, saying that the new variant leaves unvaccinated people “even more vulnerable than they were a month ago.”

“It’s a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier and particularly dangerous for young people, but the good news is we have the solution,” Biden continued, adding that the “science and the data are clear” that vaccines are the most effective form of protection against the variant.

Background: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care: Biden touts 300 million vaccine doses in 150 days | Biden warns of ‘potentially deadlier’ delta variant | Public option fades with little outcry from progressives Biden warns of ‘potentially deadlier’ delta variant, urges public to get vaccine Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing MORE said earlier Friday that the delta variant would likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. over the next two or three months. The variant is the most contagious yet and more likely to cause severe illness in those who have not been vaccinated.

The delta variant has become the dominant strain in the U.K., overtaking the alpha strain earlier this month. 

Earlier this week, WHO said the delta strain has spread to at least 80 countries.

Read more here

But almost half of unvaccinated people say they will definitely not get the vaccine

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll determined that 46 percent of the unvaccinated said they will definitely not get the vaccine and 29 percent said they will probably not get the vaccine. 

Those who are most hesitant to get the coronavirus vaccine include white evangelicals, Republicans, rural Americans, young adults and those without college degrees. 

Only 7 percent of those who are not vaccinated said they definitely will get the shot and 15 percent say they probably will, according to the poll. 

Biden and other officials have stressed the need to reach out to Americans who are hesitant to get vaccinated as the number of daily vaccinations in the U.S. has slowed since April.

States have been opening up vaccine lotteries and giving out cash prizes as incentives for their residents to get the vaccine. 

Read more here

What happened to the public option?

It’s mostly fallen off the national radar, despite being a major point of contention between moderates and progressives just a year ago during President Biden‘s campaign.

But rather than holding Biden’s feet to the fire on the issue, progressives are concentrating on other health care priorities, like ensuring drug pricing reform and expanded Medicare are included in a massive infrastructure package.

“Crafting a public option is much more difficult than lowering the Medicare eligibility age and expanding benefits,” said Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care: Biden touts 300 million vaccine doses in 150 days | Biden warns of ‘potentially deadlier’ delta variant | Public option fades with little outcry from progressives Overnight Energy: Lake Mead’s decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post On The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike MORE (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“That’s where we are going to focus our attention at this moment. That doesn’t mean we’ve given up on the rest of the pieces. But I do think at this moment what we can immediately do is lower the Medicare eligibility age, add benefits and address prescription drug pricing,” Jayapal said.

Long-term process: Outside advocates and Democrats say they haven’t given up on pursuing a government-run health care plan, but there’s an acknowledgement that a lot of legislative legwork is needed on that front.

Read more here

AstraZeneca, EU both say they won out in court dispute over vaccine supply

AstraZeneca and the European Union (EU) are both claiming victory in a court dispute over the EU’s accusation that the vaccine manufacturer was not developing doses at an adequate speed.

Both parties celebrated a Belgian Court of First Instance judge’s Friday ruling that mandated the Anglo-Swedish company provide millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses before Sept. 27. 

The friction between the 27-nation bloc and AstraZeneca heightened after the vaccine supplier agreed to provide 300 million doses to make up the backbone of the EU’s vaccine supply, but AstraZeneca adjusted the expected timing of the delivery following production issues. 

AstraZeneca said in a statement that the judge ordered the company to deliver 80.2 million doses of its vaccine by Sept. 27 – less than the 120 million doses requested by the end of June.

“We are pleased with the Court’s order,” Jeffrey Pott, general counsel at AstraZeneca, said. “AstraZeneca has fully complied with its agreement with the European Commission.”

But the EU also counted the court decision as a win, saying the ruling requires the company to send out 50 million doses of its vaccine by Sept. 27, according to a designated schedule. A total of 15 million doses are due by July 26, 20 million doses by Aug. 23 and 15 million doses on Sept. 27. 

The European Commission said AstraZeneca will face fines of 10 euros per dose if they are not delivered on time.

“This decision confirms the position of the Commission: AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.

Read more here.

What we’re reading

High hopes for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine have fizzled in the U.S.

CVS and Walgreens were reeling. Now they’re riding a Covid-19 wave. (The Wall Street Journal)

Addiction treatment had failed. Could brain surgery save him? (The Washington Post)

State by state

More than 100 Missouri schools have bought ‘often unproven’ air-cleaning technology (Kaiser Health News)

Some key data missing from Florida’s new weekly COVID reports (Orlando Sentinel)

Washington is tantalizingly close to a ‘near return to normal,’ but COVID risks are staying higher in some areas (The Seattle Times)

Read More

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