Sources and updates, May 22

  • HHS begins releasing Paxlovid data: This past week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published data on how many courses of Paxlovid and other major COVID-19 therapeutics have been ordered and administered nationwide. As KHN reporter Hannah Recht pointed out on Twitter: “This is still not the detailed, complete data that county health officials need to do their jobs but it’s a start.” (See Recht’s article on this data gap for more context.)
  • COVID-19 Local Action Tracker: Since early 2020, the National League of Cities has tracked how cities and other local municipalities have responded to COVID-19. The tracker includes 800 cities and almost 5,000 policies, impacting over 100 million people; it links out to policy documents for each item. (H/t Data Is Plural.)
  • FEMA funeral assistance: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has distributed over $2 billion in aid for COVID-19 funerals since the beginning of the pandemic, supporting more than 300,000 families, the agency announced in a press release this spring. The press release also includes data providing the number of applicants and total funds awarded in each state.
  • New Long COVID studies with electronic records: Two recent papers on Long COVID caught my attention this week. First, researchers at data nonprofit FAIR Health analyzed a cohort of 78,000 Long COVID patients using a new diagnostic code for the condition, leading to useful findings about potential demographics and risk factors. Second, researchers at the University of North Carolina, the University of Colorado, and other collaborators used machine learning techniques on health records to identify potential Long COVID patients. Both studies used electronic health records to include wider patient pools than typical U.S. Long COVID research.
  • Limited immunity after Omicron infection: Another notable paper, published this week in Nature: researchers at Gladstone Institutes, a research organization in San Francisco, examined immunity after Omicron infections by testing out potential immune responses to different variants in mice and analyzing human serological samples. Their results suggest people infected with Omicron after vaccination have more protection against variants other than Omicron compared to unvaccinated people, which may only be protected against future Omicron infections.
  • FDA authorizes combined at-home test for COVID-19, flu, RSV: And a piece of diagnostic news for this week: for the first time, the FDA has provided emergency use authorization to an at-home test that can distinguish between COVID-19, the flu, and RSV. Processing the test does involve mailing results of a nasal swab to the testing company, Labcorp, so it’s not as simple as the at-home COVID-only tests we’ve all grown used to. Still, this authorization is an important step for future testing.

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