What We’re Reading: Cancer Moonshot Returns; New Omicron Subvariant; Drug Overdose Suicide Rates

President Biden announced he would bring back the Cancer Moonshot initiative that launched in the Obama administration; the World Health Organization said the Omicron subvariant, BA.2, appears to have the same severity as the original Omicron variant; cases of suicide by drug overdose increased in young people, older adults, and non-Hispanic Black women.

Cancer Moonshot Returns With Goal to Cut Cancer Deaths in Half

President Biden announced Wednesday a plan to reduce the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years as part of his Cancer Moonshot initiative, which initially began when he was vice president in the Obama administration. The reinvigorated plan will include a campaign encouraging Americans to get screened for cancer and make up for appointments missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases and nearly 610,000 cancer deaths are expected in 2022.

Omicron Subvariant Has Similar Severity as Original Omicron, WHO Says

As reported by Reuters, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the emerging subvariant of Omicron, BA.2, appears to have the same severity as the original Omicron variant, BA.1. WHO also said vaccine efficacy is similar for both the BA.1 and BA.2 viruses, however, the new subvariant has the potential to replace BA.1 globally. These findings are based on data from Denmark that showed BA.2 is more transmissible, even leading to breakthrough cases among vaccinated people, and becoming more dominant in Denmark, the Philippines, Nepal, Qatar, and India.

Cases of Suicide by Drug Overdose Increase in Younger, Older People, and Black Women

A study led by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that, despite an overall downward trend in the United States, cases of suicide by drug overdose increased in young people aged 15 to 24, older adults aged 75 to 84, and non-Hispanic Black women in 2019. The National Institutes of Health statement said that women were overall more likely to die from intentional drug overdose than men, with the highest cases among women aged 45 to 64. These deaths also varied by time of week or year, with most intentional overdose deaths occurring on Mondays or in spring and summer, and the least deaths occurring on weekends or in December.