Week in Review: February 4

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children under 5 could be available by the end of February, people with knowledge say

Coronavirus vaccines for children younger than 5 could be available far sooner than expected — perhaps by the end of February — under a plan that would lead to the potential authorization of a two-shot regimen in the coming weeks, people briefed on the situation said Monday. Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, the manufacturers of the vaccine, are expected to submit to the Food and Drug Administration as early as Tuesday a request for emergency-use authorization for the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old, which would make it the first vaccine available for that age group. Older children already can receive the shot. Via The Washington Post

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Waiting and hoping: Canceled surgeries and busy hospitals take heavy toll on patients

Even as the number of new cases in the latest COVID-19 surge eases in Massachusetts, much of the health care system remains overwhelmed, and many anxious patients, some coping with chronic pain and worsening conditions, are facing substantial delays in surgeries and other medical procedures. At the end of December, nearly a month after Omicron was first detected in Massachusetts, state data show roughly 90 percent of hospital beds here filled with patients, including many not being treated for COVID. The numbers have just kept climbing and as of Monday, 92 percent were full. Via The Boston Globe

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Biden aims to reduce cancer deaths by 50% over next 25 years

President Joe Biden is committing to reduce the cancer death rate by 50% — a new goal for the “moonshot” initiative against the disease that was announced in 2016 when he was vice president. Biden has set a 25-year timeline for achieving that goal, part of his broader effort to end cancer as we know it, according to senior administration officials who previewed Wednesday’s announcement on the condition of anonymity. Via Associated Press

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Mayo Clinic News

This household item may help you "retrain" your sense of smell and taste after COVID-19

Smell training—or olfactory training—is simply sniffing different aromas to try to retrain your olfactory system and potentially restore the sense of smell. One specific method for smell training, according to Dr. David Valencia, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin: Try to smell four different aromas, two to four times daily, for at least 24 weeks. Concentrate on what the aroma should smell like. "While no proven treatment is available, olfactory training is recommended because it is generally safe and serious side effects are very unlikely," says Valencia. Via USA Today

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Vaccinated, boosted, recovered from COVID: How protected am I?

You’ve been vaccinated, received a booster shot and have recovered from a recent COVID-19 infection, how protected are you against the virus? The co-director of Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group, Dr. Rick Kennedy, says if you fall in the category you should feel safe but not overconfident. “I’d say they’re in great shape for several months,” Kennedy said. “Barring a new variant arising that’s able to evade some of that immunity,” he added. “The vaccines and prior infection are only focused on either the original strains or whatever variant they were infected with earlier.” Via KSTP

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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: State on recovery road from omicron wave

The current wave appears to be past its peak, Mayo Clinic data scientist Curtis Storlie told MPR News on Monday. There will continue to be thousands more positive test results and hospitalizations, he added, so people should still take precautions. "It means we're half done with this current surge,” Storlie said. “So I think it's important to recognize the omicron surge is not over. There's going to be thousands of infections and hospitalizations on the way back down, too." Via MPR News

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Chantell Canfield

Chantell Canfield is a web content coordinator for Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She began working for Mayo Clinic in 2021.