The Briefing provides an at-a-glance view of some important developments in the information universe surrounding COVID-19. The views presented here are solely those of ECRI Horizon Scanning and have not been vetted by other stakeholders.

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The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is one of the largest healthcare disruptions the world has faced in recent times. In the past 2 years, the pace of research and innovation surrounding COVID prevention has been at breakneck speed, focusing innovation on one single disease. But now, this work is settling into equilibrium with the pace of disruptive innovation across the healthcare system (see PCORI’s Horizon Scanning Database for all the innovations we are currently tracking).

COVID-19’s impact on human health is not limited to the disease alone. The pandemic has  affected cancer treatment outcomes, created new cardiovascular health risks, increased deaths related to alcohol use disorder, contributed to the deteriorating mental health of teens, and increased the risk of perinatal and postpartum depression (see Topics to Watch for a prescription app that may help new mothers).

As the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of COVID-19 become increasingly well-defined and interest increases in other pressing issues in health care, biweekly scans will begin to highlight a broader range of topics that might be of interest to readers.

Remdesivir (Veklury) to Treat COVID-19 in Children Under 12 Years of Age

At a Glance

  • Remdesivir is an antiviral medication that inhibits SARS-CoV-2 genome replication and is intended to reduce the severity and duration of COVID-19 symptoms. It was previously indicated to treat adults and children aged 12 years or older weighing at least 40 kg who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and who are at high risk of severe disease or death.
  • A phase 2/3 trial in 53 hospitalized pediatric patients found that remdesivir had efficacy and tolerability similar to that observed in adults. Clinical improvement was achieved in 85% of participants and the recovery rate was 83%.  
  • On April 25, 2022, the FDA expanded approval of remdesivir to include pediatric patients aged 28 days or older with mild to moderate COVID-19 who have a high risk of developing severe disease, making it the first available COVID-19 treatment for young children.
  • A 10-day course of remdesivir for pediatric patients might cost up to about $5720.

WB001 to Treat Postpartum Depression

At a Glance

  • Rates of postpartum depression have been rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, while shortages of mental health care providers have increased. Effective interventions to alleviate this growing gap are needed.
  • WB001 is a prescription digital therapeutic being investigated to treat women with postpartum depression. It is a smartphone application (app) that incorporates elements of psychotherapy and a chatbot called Woebot to engage users in treatment.
  • New mothers could access and use WB001 at home at their convenience. This might help increase patient access to care and circumvent several barriers to mental health care, including provider shortages, cost of traditional treatments, and stigma.
  • The digital therapeutic is being studied in an unphased, 100-participant clinical trial. The FDA previously granted breakthrough device designation for this app to treat postpartum depression.

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Commentary in this COVID-19 Scan reflects preliminary views of ECRI Horizon Scanning and internal ECRI stakeholders.
The information contained in this document has not been vetted by other stakeholders.

We welcome your comments on this Scan. Send them by email to [email protected].

Posted: May 23, 2022

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