Publications & Newsletters

Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of Jan. 29, 2024


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of  Jan. 29, 2024–Feb. 2, 2024.

The AP (2/1, Stobbe) reports, “The latest versions of COVID-19 vaccines were 54% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in adults, according to the first U.S. study to assess how well the shots work.” In the study, the CDC “looked at 9,000 people who got tested for COVID-19 at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, checking who tested positive and whether they had gotten a new shot or not.” The 54% figure “is similar to what’s been reported in other countries, and it’s also about what was reported for an earlier vaccine version, said...Ruth Link-Gelles of the CDC, the study’s lead author.” The findings were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

CNN (2/1, McPhillips) reports, “Vaccine manufacturers updated their formulations to target the Omicron variant XBB.1.5, which was the predominant circulating strain for much of 2023.” However, “the new CDC data” show “that the latest vaccines are similarly effective against JN.1, which has been causing most COVID-19 infections in the United States since late December.”

Reuters (1/31, Leo) reports that Biogen is ceasing a post-approval study of its controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, returning its licensing rights to Neurimmune. The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to find a partner to share regulatory approval costs and the drug’s commercial withdrawal in 2022 after Medicare limited coverage. Biogen will take a $60 million Q4 charge due to the termination. Instead, the company will focus on launching Leqembi and two experimental treatments targeting Alzheimer’s disease’s tau protein.

The New York Times (1/31, Robbins) reports, “With an initial sticker price of $56,000 a year, Aduhelm was once projected to be taken by millions of Alzheimer’s patients, strain Medicare’s budget and bring in billions of dollars a year. But Aduhelm failed spectacularly in the marketplace.” The drug “brought in only $7.8 million in its first year and a half on the market. Since then, Biogen’s revenue from the drug has been so small that the company no longer reports the details.”

Half the dues, all the AMA benefits!

  • Free access to JAMA Network™ and CME
  • Save hundreds on insurance
  • Fight for physicians and patient rights

The New York Times (1/30, Mandavilli) reports, “Syphilis, once nearly eliminated in the United States, continues to resurge, reaching the highest rate of new infections recorded since 1950, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.” In 2022, there were more than 207,000 cases diagnosed, “the last year for which data are available. That represents an 80% increase since 2018, and 17% over the previous year’s tally, according to a new C.D.C. report.”

The AP (1/30, Stobbe) reports that although syphilis “continues to have a disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men, it is expanding in heterosexual men and women, and increasingly affecting newborns, too, CDC officials said.”

CNN (1/30, McPhillips) reports, “There were 3,755 babies born with congenital syphilis in 2022, a 10-fold increase over the past decade and a 31% spike year-over-year; these cases caused 282 stillbirths and infant deaths in 2022.” Additionally, the infection rate “was highest among American Indian and Alaska Native people in 2022, with about 67 cases for every 100,000 people.”

Healio (1/29, Feller) reports, “Researchers estimated that hundreds of small foodborne disease outbreaks may go undetected in the United States each year, based on a statistical analysis of data from the last 2-plus decades.” In the study, published by the CDC in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers “found that foodborne disease outbreak data fits a power law distribution, statistical distribution in which one variable is proportional to the power of another variable—in this case showing that large outbreaks are rare, but small outbreaks are more common and, historically, have gone underreported.”

USA Today (1/26, Cuevas) reported, “U.S. health officials are warning clinicians to be alert for cases of measles following several outbreaks, largely among children who were eligible for the vaccine but did not receive it.” In an email, the CDC on Thursday “urged vigilance" among physicians “across the U.S. following reports of nearly two dozen cases of the preventable virus since December.” In particular, physicians “should look for patients with rash and fever, symptoms of measles, and pay attention to patients who have recently traveled internationally, the alert said.”

ABC News (1/27, Kekatos, Benadjaoud) reported, “Between Dec. 1, 2023, and Jan. 23, 2024, there have been 23 confirmed cases of measles including seven cases from international travelers and two outbreaks with five or more infections each, according to an email sent [last] week.”

AMA Morning Rounds news coverage is developed in affiliation with Bulletin Healthcare LLC. Subscribe to Morning Rounds Daily.