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 World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a labeling system for SARS-CoV-2 variants that aims to reduce the stigma associated with the tendency to name variants after the place where the variant was first detected. Using the Greek alphabet, this system aims to complement rather than replace the scientific nomenclature designated by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), Nextstrain, and Pango.

A recent study suggests that the variant WHO designates as Alpha—now dominant in the United States—might, through a unique mechanism of action, evade the body’s first line of immune defense by dampening the production of interferon. Suggestions that each variant might be lowering immune response in a different way is leading to exploration of new targets for future COVID-19 vaccines.

In the meantime, we are learning much about our current vaccines, as reviewed by Nature. Mainly, we are confirming that they are relatively safe and effective in the real world. Although the current 7-day average of new cases remains at about 14 000, administration of the vaccines has been correlated with decreased death, hospitalization, and case rates. In addition, many cases of COVID-19 are not being treated in the hospital, and new treatments and care plans are needed (see Topics to Watch).

AT-527 to Treat Mild to Moderate COVID-19

At a Glance

  • AT-527 is an oral drug that inhibits the coronavirus RNA polymerase and is being investigated to treat mild to moderate COVID-19.
  • AT-527 is purportedly highly selective for a stable region of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA polymerase and might therefore help treat patients infected with emerging COVID-19 variants.
  • The manufacturer is conducting a phase 3, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 1386 patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 in multiple sites outside of the United States, with an estimated primary completion date of August 2021.
  • In the United States, AT-527 is being studied in two phase 2, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, one study of 220 patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 and the other of 190 hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19.

Hospital-at-Home Programs to Manage Patients with COVID-19

At a Glance

  • Hospital-at-home programs offer clinical services to treat and monitor patients with COVID-19 in their homes to reduce mortality rates, hospital readmission rates, and health care costs related to COVID-19.
  • These programs vary across health systems but generally incorporate remote treatment and monitoring tools and devices to collect data and safely monitor and manage the trajectory of the illness.
  • Studies conducted by Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic show that patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who received in-home monitoring services were less likely to require hospitalization, among patients with confirmed COVID-19.
  • Hospital-at-home management programs are intended to use fewer hospital resources and provide a model that can be more responsive to rapid scaling based on need, which might increase efficiency in care delivery and engage patients and caregivers as more active partners in their care.

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 23, 2021

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