Sources and updates, September 10

  • Cost details about new treatment from Project Next Gen: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently started to share more details about Project Next Gen, a federal initiative to support new vaccines and treatments as the coronavirus continues evolving. This week, HHS announced details about its agreement with Regeneron, a company working on a new monoclonal antibody with federal funding. If a new treatment arises from this research, Regeneron cannot sell it for a higher price in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world, HHS said. This is a relatively small step for treatment access, but still could set a precedent for other products that come out of Project Next Gen.
  • Viral persistence in Long COVID: A new paper from some top Long COVID researchers (including Amy Proal, Michael VanElzakker, and others) reviews evidence about viral reservoirs, or pockets of coronavirus continuing to replicate in people’s bodies. Past studies have found these viral reservoirs throughout the body; Proal and her colleagues explain how they may contribute to different Long COVID symptoms. The review paper also recommends priorities for further research on this topic and potential treatment options. “Many aspects of SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in Long COVID require further study,” Proal wrote in a Twitter thread summarizing the paper. “For example, we need to better understand factors that differentiate SARS-CoV-2 persistence in Long COVID from persistence in asymptomatic individuals.”
  • Genetic factors for COVID-19 risk: In another notable paper from this week, researchers from a global consortium published results about how genetic factors may contribute to COVID-19 risk. The team reviewed genomic data from about 220,000 people who had COVID-19 and three million who had not tested positive. They found 51 areas of the genome that were statistically correlated to a higher risk for infection with SARS-CoV-2 or more severe symptoms. These findings could lead to “identification of the mechanisms involved in the susceptibility and the severe course of the disease,” one of the study’s lead authors said in a press release.
  • Updated Medicaid unwinding data from KFF: The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker, which shares data about people losing their Medicaid coverage thanks to the end of the federal health emergency. As of September 8, at least 5.9 million people across 48 states and Washington, D.C. have lost their coverage, KFF reports. Disenrollment varies widely by state, from 9% in Michigan to 72% in Texas. And the majority of people who lost their Medicaid coverage have done so due to procedural reasons, meaning an error of lost paperwork (rather than an actual change in eligibility, in many cases).

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