US Gov’t Establishes Office of Long COVID Research and Practice
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has formed a new office, the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice, to lead the US government’s long COVID response and coordination across the federal government. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched Long COVID clinical trials through the Recover Initiative, a US government program.
“As our nation continues to make strides in combating COVID-19, it is crucial that we address the impact of Long COVID and provide resources to those in need,” said HHS Secretary Becerra, in a July 31, 2023, statement. “Last year President Biden called on HHS to coordinate the response to Long COVID. The Official establishment of the Long COVID Coordinating office and the launch of the Recover clinical trials solidifies this issue as an ongoing priority.”
The Office of Long COVID Research will be located within HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health under the leadership of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine. The Office is charged with ongoing coordination of the whole-of-government response to the longer-term effects of COVID-19, including long COVID and associated conditions and the implementation of the National Research Action Plan on Long COVID and the Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19. Currently, 14 federal departments engage on long COVID, including over a dozen HHS Operating and Staff Divisions with a goal to reduce the impacts of long COVID by improving quality of life for people living with long COVID and reducing disparities related to long COVID.
The NIH Recover Initiative is a $1.15-billion US nationwide research program designed to understand, treat, and prevent long COVID, which describes long-term symptoms following infection by SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. More than 200 symptoms are associated with long COVID, and the condition can cause problems throughout the body, affecting nearly all body systems, including the nervous, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, autonomic, and immune systems.
Launched in 2021, the Recover initiatives established one of the largest study groups of patients with long COVID globally. The initial stage of the initiative involved launching large observational multi-site studies examining and following people through their experience with COVID-19 to learn why some people develop long-term symptoms while others recover completely. These studies are ongoing and have recruited more than 24,000 participants to date. Researchers also are analyzing 60 million electronic health records and conducting more than 40 pathobiology studies on how COVID-19 affects different body tissues and organs. The clinical trials are designed so multiple treatments and therapies can be studied across five focus areas. Platform protocols for two of these areas were posted this week (July 31, 2023), with enrollment for these trials beginning at the end of July (July 2023) and throughout the summer (summer 2023).