Sources and updates, October 9

  • Household Pulse Survey updates, expands Long COVID data: This week, the CDC and Census released an update of their Household Pulse Survey results on how Long COVID is impacting Americans. In addition to more recent data on Long COVID prevalence, the update includes new information on how adults with the condition find it limiting their day-to-day activities. The data shows that, out of all adults currently experiencing Long COVID symptoms, over 80% have some activity limitations and 25% have “significant” activity limitations. (For more context on this dataset, see my post from June.)
  • NIH shares update on RECOVER study: Speaking of Long COVID, the National Institutes of Health’s Directors Blog shared a post this week with updates on its flagship RECOVER study to learn more about the condition. Major updates include: RECOVER’s current recruitment goal is 17,000 adults and 18,000 children; the NIH recently awarded more than 40 grants to research projects examining the condition’s underlying biology; and RECOVER is utilizing electronic health records to track patients over time. While this is all valuable progress, patient advocates have expressed concerns about limited involvement by post-viral chronic illness experts in RECOVER so far.
  • Paxlovid is going under-utilized, study finds: A new report from the health records company Epic Research provides evidence that Paxlovid reduces severe COVID-19 outcomes: patients over age 50 who received the antiviral drug were about three times less likely to be hospitalized, compared with those who didn’t. The study also found, however, that eligible Americans aren’t taking advantage of this treatment. Out of about 570,000 people who “could have received Paxlovid” between March and August 2022, only 146,000 (about one in four) actually got prescriptions. Paxlovid needs to be better advertised and easier to access.
  • New COVID-19 pill added to Medicines Patent Pool: And a new COVID-19 treatment option is becoming available internationally. Shionogi, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, recently signed an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, an international public health organization that facilitates increased drug access in low- and middle-income countries. The agreement allows other drug companies to make Shoinogi’s antiviral COVID-19 pill, called ensitrelvir fumaric acid, which has seen some promising results in clinical trials so far. Paxlovid and Molnupiravir (Merck’s antiviral pill) are already licensed by the pool.
  • Patient access to electronic health records expands: This past Thursday, new federal rules took effect requiring healthcare companies to “give patients unfettered access to their full health records in digital format,” as STAT News reporter Casey Ross put it. This is a major milestone for the democratization of health data, as patient records have historically been locked in a labyrinth of private databases—though more public education is needed to help people actually take advantage of the new rules. Personally, I hope this is a first step towards more record-sharing between health institutions, which could be a key step for more comprehensive analysis in the future.

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