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President Joe Biden‘s goal of cutting the cancer death rate in half will require strides in population-level research and weeding out disparities in care, the head of the National Cancer Institute said.
“That’s a bold, but achievable goal,” NCI Director Ned Sharpless told Bloomberg Law’s Jeannie Baumann. “But if we’re going to reduce mortality by 50% in 25 years, we’re going to have to invest in the science and technologies that will do that.”
The White House is set to launch a second iteration of the Cancer Moonshot, one of Biden’s signature efforts during the Obama administration to double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, treatments, and detection. The institute headed by Sharpless will play a critical role in shepherding the scientific advances that make Biden’s goal possible. “NCI could not be more central,” a senior administration official said, adding that the White House is pulling together a Cancer Cabinet as the work extends beyond biomedical research.
The next phase of the moonshot—Sharpless prefers “supercharged” over a “reignited” effort since the 2016 initiative continues to run a robust program—needs to shift toward population-level efforts to develop better ways to prevent and screen for cancer, he said. It could support research, for example, to develop a test that could offer early detection of different cancers at once.
Research efforts targeted at specific communities would also help lower inequities in cancer care, Sharpless said. “We play a big role in understanding how cancer care is delivered in the real world and how access to care shapes outcomes, and how barriers to care in some cases, worsen outcomes,” he said.
The death rate of cancer has declined in the U.S. overall, but certain populations continue to get hit harder due to factors such as systemic racism in medicine, poverty, and lack of access to care. Black Americans have higher death rates for many cancer types, and Americans in rural Appalachia have higher incidence rates of colorectal, lung and cervical cancers, the NCI has found. “If we can take populations that have poor outcomes in cancer and work against those disparities,” Sharpless said, it “would be a huge effect on cancer mortality at a population level.” Read more from Jeannie Baumann.
The Coronavirus Pandemic
CDC Advisers Approve Moderna Vaccine: Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine received a unanimous endorsement from a group of key health advisers after its approval, a move that may help encourage the hesitant to get vaccinated. All 13 members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the two-dose regimen for adults Friday. Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation, making it official. Moderna’s shot, to be sold under the brand name Spikevax, won full approval last week from the Food and Drug Administration. Fiona Rutherford has more.
CDC Expands Search for Covid-19 Warnings in Wastewater: U.S. public health officials are expanding their monitoring of Covid-19 in sewage, which has become a crucial early warning for jumps in infections. The CDC this week began sharing virus wastewater trends on its public-facing Covid-19 data website. And the agency is in the midst of expanding the number of places from which raw sewage gets monitored for rising or falling waves of disease, adding hundreds of new sites in the coming months. Read more from Drew Armstrong.
- U.S. Troops Reinforcing Hospitals in Covid-19’s Battle of Attrition
- Beijing Winter Olympics’ Covid-19 Cases Accelerate as Games Open
- Vaccine Tensions Simmer in Canada; Protesters in Ottawa Dig In
- Australia Eyes Return of Foreign Tourists After Two-Year Lockout
What Else to Know Today
Ambulance Firms Press Congress for Aid: Ambulance groups are asking Congress to include provisions in upcoming pandemic supplemental funding that would delay Medicare sequestration cuts and offer provider relief funds to their industry. Ambulances and other first responders say they are hard hit by the pandemic, citing $25 billion eaten up to higher costs and lost reimbursements since March 2021 due to the delta and omicron variants. “We need additional funding more than ever and not less,” the coalition of groups including the American Ambulance Association told congressional leaders in a letter.
- Kentucky Doctor Prevails in ER Patient’s Medical Negligence Suit
- Air Ambulance Provider Subject to Texas Workers Comp Pay Law
- FDA Clears Sanofi’s Enjaymo to Treat Anemia With Orphan Label
To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org