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 COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the pressing need to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care, as underscored in the closing keynote address of last year’s PCORI Annual Meeting and named as the number-one topic in ECRI’s Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns 2021. Innovations and outreach are being tested across the United States (see Topics to Watch).

This month, the American Public Health Association, the de Beaumont Foundation, and the National Collaborative for Health Equity released a 96-page briefing summarizing options identified by their initiative, Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice. The group hopes to create change in US cities by improving communication, promoting healing and relationship-building, decreasing social separation, addressing legal barriers, and promoting a more equitable economy.

Globally, molnupiravir developer Merck & Co, Inc, has entered a partnership with the Medicines Patent Pool, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding incentives for 8 generic manufacturers that have voluntary Merck-licensing deals. Both programs are meant to speed the availability of the molnupiravir pill (see PCORI Biweekly COVID-19 Scan: June 10-23, 2021) to treat COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries.

EASE Mobile Health Application to Monitor COVID-19 Risk and Improve Mental Health During the Pandemic

At a Glance

  • The Easing Anxiety Sensitivity for Everyone (EASE) mobile health application (app) is intended to decrease health disparities that exist among Black, Latinx, and American Indian individuals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, by treating elevated anxiety and depressive symptoms.
  • EASE is a validated app, adapted with COVID-19–specific elements, that purportedly personalizes behavioral health interventions to target anxiety sensitivity, a factor in the development and progression of anxiety and depressive symptoms.
  • An unphased, randomized controlled clinical trial is comparing the EASE app with educational videos in 800 participants. The trial’s primary completion date is estimated as August 2023.
  • If effective and easy to use, the EASE app might provide early intervention, reduce the prevalence and severity of mental health conditions, and improve population health outcomes in underserved populations.

National Black Church Initiative to Prevent COVID-19 in Black and Latino Populations

At a Glance

  • Vaccination efforts by the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of 150 000 Black and Latino churches intended to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care across the United States, might reduce vaccine hesitancy, hospitalizations, and subsequent medical costs due to COVID-19, especially in Black and Latino communities throughout the country.
  • The NBCI announced a 5-year plan to partner with its trusted faith-based organizations, Black and Latino medical professionals, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to leverage churches as vaccination sites. The intention is to increase vaccination rates in underserved communities and reduce racial and ethnic disparities because of COVID-19.
  • Key components of the program include mobilizing volunteers to increase awareness about COVID-19, providing transportation to vaccination centers, and ensuring that people in underserved communities complete the vaccination series.
  • NBCI has held more than 157 vaccination events and mobilized 2.5 million volunteers to support vaccination efforts across the United States.

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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: November 5, 2021

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