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 increasing probability that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will become a seasonal infection risk marks the first time that we will document the path of a coronavirus from pandemic to endemic. Disease control is likely, but there is no clear evidence of how severe seasonal COVID outbreaks might be.

A partnership between Colorado Mesa University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard demonstrates how 3 key strategies—symptom- and contact-tracing apps, COVID-19 testing, and wastewater surveillance—while perhaps not effective in isolation, can create a strong preventive net when applied together. Future use of these strategies might help US officials both monitor and mitigate seasonal COVID outbreaks and any emerging risk from coronavirus variants.

Meanwhile, investigations of the causes of long COVID and how to care for patients with long COVID continues. A recent study at a London, UK, hospital brings promising news that children who had multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) caused by COVID are not experiencing long-term debilitation. In the United States, the Pediatric Heart Network will follow 600 children over 5 years to be sure that this is the case. Also in the United States, several programs are making it easier for adults with long COVID to get treatment for specific symptoms (see Topics to Watch).

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy to Treat Post-COVID Cognitive Symptoms

At a Glance

  • Cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT) is typically used to treat patients who have cognitive deficits from a concussion, traumatic brain injury, or stroke. Cognitive deficits might occur after COVID-19, too, and can persist for months. About one-third of patients are diagnosed with neurologic and psychiatric conditions within 6 months after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • Some institutions (eg, Mayo Clinic, Yale, and Johns Hopkins) are referring patients experiencing post-COVID cognitive symptoms (executive dysfunction and difficulty with thinking, concentrating, and memory) for treatment at CRT programs.
  • CRT includes memory training, speech therapy, and cognitive exercises, as well as psychological support. It can be implemented both before discharge from the hospital or in the outpatient setting.
  • Early intervention of COVID-19 cognitive impairment might be an important defense against potentially lifelong impairments to a patient’s overall health and quality of life.

Tele-rehabilitation Programs to Treat Post-COVID Pulmonary Symptoms

At a Glance

  • Some patients in post-COVID recovery have lingering pulmonary complications, including shortness of breath and fatigue. Health care systems are developing clinical infrastructures to address the continued needs of these patients.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, typically used for managing patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is being investigated and used to treat patients with post-COVID symptoms. However, program availability remains limited.  
  • Virtual rehabilitation programs consisting of medically supervised virtual exercise training and health education might address this gap by delivering physical therapy sessions via secure telehealth platforms to improve strength and cardiopulmonary endurance.
  • Patients consult with a pulmonary physician for an initial evaluation and are then treated according to individual needs by a multidisciplinary care team. Early adopters of this intervention include the medical center at the University of California, Davis and UPMC.  

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: June 9, 2021

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