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Around the Web — 1.13.23

The 37 new chemical/biological entities approved by FDA during 2022 are discussed in an FDA Voices article published this week. Written by Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, “FDA Approved Many New Drugs in 2022 That Will Improve the Lives of Patients and Consumers” also covers approvals of older agents for new uses or new patient populations. The article directs readers to the Novel Drug Approvals for 2022 webpage for more information about newly approved treatments, including several for infectious diseases, (COVID-19, HIV, smallpox, influenza, and Helicobacter pylori infection) and therapies for 2 severe and progressive neurological conditions, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy.

“Let’s RISE” is a new CDC campaign focused on encouraging people to catch up on routine vaccinations. An acronym for Routine Immunizations on Schedule for Everyone, RISE is a program that will use evidence-based strategies and available resources and data to communicate to people the importance of immunizations they may have deferred or neglected during the pandemic. CDC is calling on community leaders, healthcare professionals, and partners to prioritize ensuring everyone catches up on routine vaccination; identify individuals behind on their vaccinations; encourage vaccination catch-up through reminders, recall, and outreach; make strong vaccine recommendations; and make vaccines easy for everyone to find and afford.

Keeping up with “omicron’s ever-expanding offspring” can be a real chore, writes medical journalist Helen Braswell in a Stat article. Some experts interviewed for the report feel that the designation of variants using Greek letters captured the public’s attention more than strings of letters and numbers such as XBB.1.5 and BQ.1.1. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, feels that “three years into the pandemic, public health hasn’t yet figured out how to effectively communicate about the evolution of the virus,” Braswell wrote. “‘None of us yet really understand how to interpret the scientific information that continues to come in on variants and subvariants and try to translate that into meaningful public health policy — or for that matter, how to even talk about it, [Osterholm said]. “‘I think we’re in a place right now where we’re trying to understand: How do we talk about this [in a way] that’s meaningful to people and that has public health consequence?’”

The opinions of 23 experts about what has surprised them most during the pandemic are covered in a 5,000-word Stat article also written by Helen Braswell. The article notes that burnout and mental health challenges are affecting many healthcare professionals, according to Christine Grady, chief of the department of bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center. Braswell wrote, “Very early on, people treated health workers like pariahs, because they feared catching the new disease from them, said Grady.… Then for a time, health workers were heroes, during the bang-your-pots period. Later, as pandemic fatigue and denialism set in, health workers were again targeted, sometimes with threats of violence. Grady knows well of what she speaks. She is married to [Anthony] Fauci, the NIAID director and President Biden’s scientific adviser, who has had to have a security detail for some time.”