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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Good news! The first vaccine doses have been given, and many more are being delivered and prepared for patients right now. However, the pandemic is far from over. Infection rates are high. In the United States, more than 300 000 COVID-19–related deaths have been reported. In addition, effective treatments for COVID-19 remain few and often far between (see Topics to Watch for interventions to address treatment and testing).

The virus continues to take a toll on the mental health of those who had it and those left behind by the death of a loved one. Many critically ill patients with COVID-19 have experienced delirium. Researchers are hoping to follow up on those who have survived to see whether short-term confusion associated with COVID-19 might lead to long-term dementia. Disruptions to the grieving process and the impact of lives lost could have long-term societal and individual mental health impacts. In addition, the extended nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant strain on mental health services around the world.

All eyes are—understandably—on the vaccines to help us return to some sense of normalcy, but the fight is not over. Continued vigilance by all against COVID-19 and its many possible deleterious effects on individual and public health remains paramount.

Combination Baricitinib and Remdesivir to Treat COVID-19

At a Glance

  • Baricitinib and remdesivir constitute the first combination therapy to receive an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Granted on November 19, this combination therapy is for treating hospitalized adult and pediatric patients with COVID-19 requiring respiratory support.
  • Baricitinib is an oral drug that purportedly reduces COVID inflammation by blocking proinflammatory signaling. Remdesivir is an intravenous drug that directly inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and was previously approved by the FDA for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
  • The Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT-2) demonstrated that patients taking the drug combination experienced improved recovery time, better clinical status at day 15, lower progression to ventilation, and decreased death compared with remdesivir alone.
  • Based on available dosing information and pricing, 1 treatment course of the drug combination for COVID-19 might cost up to $8300.

Mobile Health Clinics to Increase Access to COVID-19 Health Services

At a Glance

  • Mobile health clinics, customized motor vehicles that travel to communities to provide health care, might help meet shortages in COVID-19 health services, including access to testing and treatment.
  • In addition to existing infrastructure, companies are offering mobile clinics for rent or sale. Aardvark Mobile Health vehicles (Aardvark Mobile Tours, LLC) offer mobile health trucks that are equipped with proper positive and negative air pressure and the ability to become certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) up to biosafety level 2.
  • Mobile health clinics can be used for rapid testing, vaccinations, and health screenings. With 2 to 4 testing windows, staff can administer up to 400 tests a day, comparable with drive-thru testing facilities, which are inaccessible to people using public transportation. 

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: December 30, 2020

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