Nearly three years ago, I asked in a blog post for The Beacon whether the new Biden Administration would accomplish the seemingly impossible task of lowering insulin prices. At the time, President Biden was more so focused on re-instating components of the Affordable Care Act undone during the Trump Administration.
Friedreich’s Ataxia (sometimes shortened to FA) is a disease that slowly damages the nervous system over time. Often, FA results in difficulty controlling muscle movements, impaired sensory function, spinal curvature, and a host of other serious health concerns. Symptoms of FA usually begin during early or late childhood and last the duration of the victim’s lifetime (which is often shortened). While FA is rare (about 5,000 Americans currently have it), those with it can only receive treatment for symptoms.
This January, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Leqembi to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Leqembi is pathbreaking in two ways. First, while the vast majority of Alzheimer’s drugs can only help slow the progress of the disease, Leqembi can stop and reverse cognitive decline. As an FDA news release states, “This treatment option is the latest therapy to target and affect the underlying disease process of Alzheimer’s, instead of only treating the symptoms of the disease.”
Forget Covid-19 and Monkeypox. Respiratory syncytial virus (often shortened to RSV) may be the biggest public health threat this season. RSV is a virus that often results in mild cold-like symptoms for many infected adults. However, it can be deadly for children. RSV is estimated to be responsible for 1 out of 50 children’s deaths globally and 1 out of 56 deaths for children in developed countries.
Cases of Covid-19, RSV, and the Flu are all rising across the country. While some predicted Covid would become seasonal, RSV and Flu cases are rising quicker and earlier than many expected. Hospitalizations from both RSV and the Flu are also the highest they’ve been in a decade. Together, this wave of illness has been named the “tridemic.”
The US is still in a state of emergency for Covid-19 and monkeypox. However, the country has another longstanding and quickly worsening public health concern—mental health. According to mentalhealth.gov, about 20 percent of American adults experienced a mental health issue in 2020. Nearly 1 in 20 Americans live with a severe mental illness.
Covid-19 is likely endemic and will remain with us for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, it is also becoming milder. Some medical research argues that current dominant variants are less deadly than the flu. Hospitalizations have also steeply declined in recent weeks.
Regardless, President Biden recently announced he is extending the Covid-19 public health emergency for another 90 days. This will place the country under a public health emergency for Covid into early 2023. The U.S. is also under a public health state of emergency for monkeypox.
This comes at a surprising time. On October 21st, there were about 7,100 new Covid-19 cases. Ten months prior, data collectors at Johns Hopkins University reported over 1 million new Covid-19 cases. This reduction occurred despite Covid’s continual mutation into more contagious variants and dramatically curtailing of recommended public health guidelines to prevent disease spread.
A glance at America’s growing waistline shows closing gyms and limiting travel away from home to combat the pandemic has worsened public health in America.
Results from a 2021 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found 61 percent of respondents experienced unwanted weight gain during the pandemic (by an average of 29 pounds). Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds children experienced the most significant weight gain over the past two years, many of which experienced an alarming 1.6 percent increase in BMI.
Losing weight is never easy, often requiring daily commitment to dietary and lifestyle changes. The Food and Drug Administration’s latest effort aims to help.
Even as Covid-19 infections and deaths decrease globally, the World Health Organization warns that “the pandemic is not over.” The Biden Administration seems to feel the same. Earlier this month, the federal government extended the Covid-19 public health emergency again.
Why the concern? As WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus stated, “A new and even more dangerous variant can emerge any time and vast numbers of people remain unprotected.” Covid’s BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants could be an example.