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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A return to normal from the COVID-19 pandemic might not be shared equally across American communities. Hospitalizations for Black Americans remain higher than average, according to a new report from the Black Coalition Against COVID. In addition, the Black community faces slow uptake of vaccine boosters plus underrepresentation in both clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments and patient registries for post-COVID observation and therapy.

New initiatives towards earlier treatment (see Topics to Watch) might help decrease hospitalization, assuming there is sufficient awareness and access. Booster campaigns will now need to include not only people who have yet to receive the first booster shot, but also older people and those with compromised immune systems who are now eligible for a second booster shot.

A recent, rapid, expert consultation from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends careful targeting and trust building when developing vaccination incentive programs. Undoubtedly, building trust will be essential in the coming months now that children under 5 years of age are next in line for vaccine authorization (see Topics to Watch).

Test-to-Treat Initiative to Increase Patient Access to COVID-19 Antiviral Treatments

At a Glance

  • Test-to-Treat is an initiative launched by the US government to increase patient access to FDA-authorized antiviral treatments for COVID-19—namely, nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir (Paxlovid) and molnupiravir—at no cost to patients.
  • The nationwide program enables individuals who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19 to get tested for SARS-CoV-2, receive a prescription for antiviral treatment from a health care provider if appropriate, and receive the medication, all at the same location.
  • Individuals are not required to undergo testing at the participating sites to be eligible to receive antiviral treatment through the sites.
  • The “one-stop” Test-to-Treat locations include pharmacy-based clinics, federally qualified health centers, long-term care facilities, and US Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19 in Children Aged 6 Months to 4 Years

At a Glance

  • Vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in children aged 6 months to 4 years are under investigation by Moderna and by Pfizer and BioNTech.
  • In clinical trials, Moderna reported that an investigational 2-dose series of its vaccine in children aged 6 months to 5 years demonstrated immune responses, tolerability, and efficacy comparable to those observed in older children and adults.
  • Moderna anticipates seeking EUA from the FDA for their COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 6 months to 5 years in the coming weeks.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech initiated a rolling submission for EUA for their vaccine in February 2022 based on clinical trial data from 2 of 3 planned doses of their vaccine administered in children aged 6 months to 4 years. The FDA is waiting to make a decision until data on a third dose become available, which the companies expect will be in early April.

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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: April 8, 2022

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