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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COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant are surging among unvaccinated people and younger age groups in the United States. In the face of this, some cities and professional organizations are rethinking the loosening of mask and social distancing mandates (see Topics to Watch).

Prevention of even mild cases of COVID-19 could be important to the future of American health, especially as we learn more about long COVID-19 in adults and, increasingly, in children. A study in the United Kingdom found that at least 1 symptom lasted for 5 weeks after diagnosis in 9.8% of children aged 2 to 11 years and 13% in those aged 12 to 16 years.

The search for promising treatments to be used earlier in the disease course continues (see Topics to Watch for one oral candidate). But caution is warranted against too rapidly accepting research results. In July, two meta-analyses of ivermectin trial results, one in Open Forum Infectious Diseases and one in American Journal of Therapeutics, concluded that ivermectin increased survival for patients with COVID-19, with the latter stating: “The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally.” However, a report issued as a preprint without peer review, which was one of the key studies in these meta-analyses, has been withdrawn and is under formal investigation. Allegations against the study range from reporting inconsistencies and simple data errors to plagiarism and data cloning with manipulation.

Reinstating Mask Mandates to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

At a Glance

  • Health care groups such as National Nurses United and pediatricians are urging the federal government to resume its guidance on universal masking to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.
  • After the lifting of preventive guidelines, such as limited capacity, social distancing, and masking, coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have been steadily increasing.
  • First discovered in India in December 2020, the Delta variant is now the predominant COVID-19 variant in the United States, and it is considered more contagious and severe than other known variants.
  • Although vaccines remain an effective tool for containing COVID-19, mask mandates for vaccinated and unvaccinated people may be widely implemented to curb the recent surge of cases.

Tempol to Treat COVID-19 Patients at High Risk of Progressing to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome 

At a Glance

  • Tempol is an investigational oral antiviral, anticoagulant, and antioxidant drug intended to treat adults with early-stage COVID-19 who are at high risk of disease progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
  • The drug is also being investigated to treat respiratory diseases including asthma, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza.
  • Tempol is thought to target COVID-19 disease processes through multiple mechanisms of action, including viral replication, inflammation, coagulation, and oxidative processes. It might provide an oral, outpatient treatment to help mitigate the risk of severe complications in patients with COVID-19 at high risk of progressing to ARDS and reduce coronavirus transmission in the community if infection times are shortened.
  • An ongoing phase 2/3, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial is investigating the effect of Tempol on hospitalization rates in 310 adults with early COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing ARDS, with an estimated primary completion date of December 2021.
  • The manufacturer announced plans to file for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pending positive results from the phase 2/3 trial.   

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: July 30, 2021

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