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What We’re Reading: Rising Flu Cases; RSV Drug Shortage; Forever Chemical Restrictions


Health officials said that at least 7 states reported high levels of illness, with cases also rising in other parts of the country; a group of Senate Democrats demanded answers about the shortage of nirsevimab, a new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) drug; Pentagon officials told Congress that eliminating per- and polyfluorinated substances would undermine military readiness.

Flu Soaring in 7 States, Rising in Others, Health Officials Say

With flu season underway, health officials said that at least 7 states reported high levels of illness, and cases are rising in other parts of the country, according to the Associated Press. The CDC posted new data on Friday, which showed high activity in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Carolina; cases were also high in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Additionally, flu activity was found to be moderate but rising in Arkansas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York City, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. So far this fall, the CDC estimated at least 780,000 flu illnesses, 8000 hospitalizations, and 490 deaths.

Senate Democrats Question RSV Drug Manufacturers About Shortage

A group of Senate Democrats demanded answers about the shortage of nirsevimab, a new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) drug, according to The Hill. Nirsevimab, marketed as Beyfortus, is a monoclonal antibody that allows babies to directly receive antibodies to prevent severe RSV disease; shortages of the drug have been occurring since its approval in August due to unprecedented demands. Within a letter led by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D, Illinois) sent Friday, lawmakers asked manufacturers Sanofi and AstraZeneca for more information about the current supply, why they were so unprepared for the demand, and when the companies first became aware of the shortage. The letter was cosigned by Senate Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Ed Markey (Massachusetts), Ron Wyden (Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), and Jon Ossoff (Georgia).

National Security Depends on “Forever Chemicals,” US Military Says

As regulators propose restrictions on per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) due to associated health conditions, Pentagon officials told Congress that eliminating the chemicals would undermine military readiness, according to KFF Health News. PFAS are known as forever chemicals as they do not break down in the environment and can build up in the human body, causing health problems like cancer. Because of this, Congress has pressured the Department of Defense (DoD) to stop using PFAS. Despite related health concerns, the DoD relies on hundreds, if not thousands, of weapons and products, like batteries, uniforms, and microelectronics that contain PFAS. Consequently, the DoD delivered a report to Congress, which was made public by the American Chemistry Council last month, that pushed back against their requests, claiming regulations against PFAS would greatly impact national security and DoD’s ability to fulfill its mission.

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