What We’re Reading: FDA Pick Advances; Recent Years Hottest Yet; Some Omicron Cases Slow

Senate panel votes to advance Robert Califf, MD, as the new head of the FDA; rising global temperatures spell increased health challenges; Omicron cases may be peaking in some Northeast cities.

FDA Pick Califf Advances

A senate panel voted 13-to-8 to advance the nomination of Robert Califf, MD, to lead the FDA, Politico reports. The move comes at a crucial time for the agency as it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and recent contentious approvals. Two senators who caucus with Democrats, including Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont, and 6 republicans opposed the nomination, while Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky abstained. Several democrats have raised concerns over Califf’s drug industry ties. Califf previously served as FDA commissioner for 1 year under the Obama administration.

Recent Years Were the Hottest Ever Recorded

New data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Berkeley Earth show that the past 7 years have been the hottest in recorded history, The Washington Post reports. In 2021, global temperatures were among the highest yet, while 25 countries set new annual records and July marked the hottest month ever recorded. The resulting heat waves, heavy rainfall, and high-impact weather events spell concern as more and more individuals become susceptible to climate extremes. In 2021 alone, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and tornadoes killed at least 688 people in the United States. Extreme drought has also destroyed crops and threatened drinking water supplies.

Omicron Cases May Have Peaked in Some Cities

Data from cities in the Northeast indicate a national peak of Omicron COVID-19 cases may be approaching, according to The New York Times. In Cleveland, Ohio; Newark, New Jersey; and Washington, DC, daily case reports have been falling rapidly, as these cities were among the first to experience a surge of cases last month. However, the COVID-19 situation remains dire in other regions, as hospitals halt nonurgent procedures and rely on the National Guard to help fill staffing gaps amid high patient demand. A record number of individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, while new data show that for teenagers, most intensive care unit stays were among the unvaccinated.