This past Friday, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services held a briefing previewing two major reports about Long COVID.
The reports, which the Biden administration plans to release in August, will share government resources and research priorities for Long COVID, as well as priorities for other groups impacted long-term by the pandemic, such as healthcare workers and people who lost loved ones to COVID-19. Friday’s briefing served to give people and organizations most directly impacted by this work (particularly Long COVID patients) advanced notice about the reports and future related efforts.
It was also, apparently, closed to the press—a fact that I did not learn until I had already publicly livetweeted half of the meeting. I later confirmed with other journalist friends that the White House and HHS press offices did not do a great job of communicating the meeting’s supposedly closed status, as none of us knew this beforehand.
Officials honestly didn’t share much information at this briefing that I didn’t already know, so it’s not as though I obtained a huge scoop by watching it. (For transparency’s sake: I received a link to register for the Zoom meeting via the COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project’s listserv, and identified myself as a journalist when I signed up.)
Due to confusion around the briefing’s status and the fact that other attendees (besides myself) livetweeted it, I feel comfortable sharing a few key points from the call. If this gets me in trouble with the HHS press office, well… they’ve never answered my emails anyway.
- These upcoming August reports are responding to a memorandum that the Biden administration issued in April calling for action on Long COVID.
- Over ten federal government agencies have been involved in producing the reports, which officials touted as an example of their comprehensive response to this condition.
- One report will focus on services for Long COVID patients and others facing long-term impacts from the pandemic. My impression is that this will mostly highlight existing services, rather than creating new COVID-focused services (though the latter could be developed in the future).
- The second report will focus on Long COVID research, providing priorities for both public and private scientific and medical research efforts. Worth noting: existing public Long COVID research is not going well so far, for reasons I have covered extensively.
- An HHS team focused on human-centered design has been pursuing an “effort to better understand Long COVID” (quoting from their web page). This project is currently wrapping up its first stage, and expects to publish a report in late 2022.
- Some Long COVID patients and advocates would like to see more urgent action from the federal government than what they felt was on display at this briefing.
Here are a couple of Tweets from advocates who attended:
I look forward to covering the reports when they’re released in August.