The U.S. will pay Merck $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 treatment. Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral therapy that aims to halt the virus’ progression, will be tested in a large trial. (Reuters)

Two-thirds of Congress cashed checks from the pharma industry before the 2020 election, according to a STAT analysis. With Pfizer, Amgen and others contributing to hundreds of lawmakers’ campaigns, the analysis showed that the pharma industry still maintains plenty of weight in Washington. (STAT)

Roivant’s data spinout Datavant is merging with Ciox Health. The deal values the new company, which will be led by Ciox CEO Pete McCabe, at $7 billion. (Endpoints News)

Nearly half of Americans 12 and over are now fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Fifty-two percent have received at least one shot and 42% are fully inoculated. (CNBC Weekly)

The state of Washington announced a new incentive to boost vaccinations: providing adults with a free joint after they receive their shot. The state will temporarily allow licensed cannabis retailers to provide a free joint to adults who are vaccinated at one of their locations. (The Washington Post)