A newly-formed committee comprising providers, researchers, community organizations and other stakeholders will inform the federal government’s approach to addressing long COVID.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 1 in 10 people infected with COVID-19 continue to experience prolonged effects, such as challenges performing activities of daily living. About 80% of people with long COVID have trouble performing ADLs, with nearly a quarter experiencing “significant activity limitations,” according to KFF. And for these groups, patients and researchers have noted the benefits of using home caregiving, in-home technologies like pulse oximeters and even telehealth to create better health outcomes.
The government’s latest approach to addressing the chronic condition is through the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on long COVID. Need for the committee was outlined in an action plan published last year; on Wednesday, the committee was established and the Department of Health and Human Services invited nominations.
“Through collaboration with federal partners, researchers, clinicians, and patient advocacy organizations, and the business sector we continue to make progress towards America’s most urgent calls to action,” Rachel Levine, MD, assistant secretary for health at HHS, said in a statement.
The original action plan placed a heavy emphasis on keeping patients at home, rather than in clinical settings where the virus could spread more easily. HHS noted in the plan that its primary focus areas include researching “rapid detection devices and home-based testing technologies.”
“Testing outside of the laboratory in other clinical venues, pharmacies, and in homes complements laboratory-based testing by enhancing access, efficiency, and speed,” the action plan noted. The committee seeks to advance recommendations made in the action plan and encourage a “whole-of-government response to the longer-term impacts of COVID-19.”
The committee itself will consist of experts reflecting “multidisciplinary expertise of those supporting and caring for those affected,” including public health officials, health providers, researchers and other stakeholders, according to HHS.