News in brief: Updated online presence for ARA; COVID-19 vax boosters for immunocompromised patients; EULAR issues warning over global shortages of rheumatology drugs

Updated online presence for ARA

The ARA has a newly refreshed, more user-friendly website which went live last Monday (20 Sept).

The website retains features such as resources for patients and healthcare professionals, information on research grants and awards, and a members area.

The ARA Board decided that an update to the ARA brand was in order to go with the new website and therefore the logo has been updated with more contemporary colour and font.

Feedback is encouraged: [email protected]

COVID-19 vax booster doses needed for some patients: ATAGI

A third COVID-19 vaccine booster dose will soon be recommended for some Australians with immunocompromising conditions, according to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

In advice released on 23 September, ATAGI said it anticipated that “a relatively small cohort of individuals, such as those with severely immunocompromising conditions, are likely to require a third dose as part of their primary course of vaccination to ensure optimal vaccine effectiveness.”

ATAGI added that boosters for other populations may be required in the future, and it was preparing recommendations to be released in the next few weeks.

Factors to be considered in recommendations for boosters include the duration of protection provided by additional doses, timing of booster doses to cover anticipated future peaks and the balance of efficacy and safety of third doses of mRNA vaccines, it said. ATAGI is also reviewing the types of vaccine to be used as boosters and the potential for newer  types such as the protein subunit vaccines variant vaccines as they become available.

In the meantime it said first and second dose coverage remained a priority for achieving protection in the current Delta outbreak.

EULAR issues warning over global shortages of rheumatology drugs

Rheumatologists in Europe are calling for equal access to drugs such as tocilizumab as fears grow around reported global shortages and their potential impact on patients.

The European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) has warned that “more and more EU member states are experiencing shortages of essential anti-inflammatory drugs” and that “certain manufacturers have highlighted the prospect of global shortages in the upcoming months.”

EULAR’s president, Professor Annamaria Iagnocco, has called on manufacturers and governments to take “urgent steps” to protect patients with rheumatic diseases from the increased demand for these drugs because of COVID-19. “A balanced approach is essential to ensure that we meet the ongoing pandemic imperatives and respect the needs of those already benefiting already from the use of this medicine, for some of whom it is an essential medication,” she stressed.

Rheumatologists in the UK told the limbic that one of the main issues with switching or shortages of injectable medications that patients needed to be given training on how to self administer them, and there was a lack of capacity in rheumatology departments due to the pandemic backlogs on clinic appointments.

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