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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As the United States enters this year’s cold and flu season, many people will not only be asking, "Is this a cold or is it the flu?" but "Is this COVID?" The ability to differentiate influenza from COVID-19 is important, not only for individual patients but also for providers, to ensure efficient delivery of care within and across populations. New combined diagnostics are poised to help providers do just that (see Topics to Watch). The flu season is also predicted to challenge artificial intelligence models (see Topics to Watch) trained during the height of the pandemic in the absence of flu.

The good news of lower COVID-19–related death rates, albeit among a late October surge in new cases, is balanced somewhat by concerns about people who have contracted COVID-19 and experience persistent, low-grade symptoms, sometimes for months. Because many of these patients do not require hospitalization and might not have received an official COVID-19 diagnosis, they could be omitted from case numbers. With mounting evidence and many unknowns surrounding the virus’s impact on the nervous system and autoimmune consequences, potential exists for a future burden on the health care system and the health of the American people.

Artificial Intelligence–Assisted Radiographic Image Assessment for Determining COVID-19 Prognosis

At a Glance

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are being investigated to help analyze radiographic images (eg, chest x-ray, computed tomography) of patients with COVID-19, to predict the clinical course.
  • Methods to identify and monitor the course of COVID-19 might help health care facilities prioritize care and efficiently allocate resources.
  • AI-assisted image assessment modalities in development include AI-driven computational tools to evaluate which patients might need the most extensive treatment (eg, mechanical ventilation) or are more likely to develop pneumonia as well as a machine learning–based model for predicting length of hospital stay.

Dual Point-of-Care Nucleic Acid Assays to Diagnose COVID-19 and Influenza

At a Glance

  • Coronavirus and influenza virus infection symptoms can be similar, yet clinicians must be able to differentiate between the 2 respiratory infections to properly manage patients.
  • Point-of-care polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays have been developed to diagnose COVID-19 and influenza within an hour, such as the cobas SARS-CoV-2 & Influenza A/B Nucleic Acid Test and the Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2/Flu/RSV.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to cobas SARS-CoV-2 & Influenza A/B Nucleic Acid Test and Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2/Flu/RSV and is in the process of evaluating other multiplexed assays.

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 6, 2020

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