April 5, 2022 – The Biden administration announced Tuesday a massive federal effort to better understand, diagnose, and treat the crippling effects of long COVID.
The National Research Action Plan on Long COVID will gather experts from various agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to expand existing long-COVID clinics and broaden research on symptoms of the virus that persist long after infection.
“We’ll collaborate with academic, industry, state and local partners to better understand long COVID,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a White House briefing Tuesday. “We need to work as aggressively as we can to make sure no American is left behind.”
The plan will build on the RECOVER Initiative, a $1.15 billion effort announced last year that will study long COVID.
The COVID-19 Response Team also announced Tuesday that the United States will donate tens of millions of pediatric coronavirus vaccines to other countries. More than 20 countries have asked for the donations, the team said.
The U.S. has delivered more than 500 million vaccine doses to 114 countries.
Meanwhile, national COVID-19 numbers continue to fall. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, reported that average daily cases are down 4% this week to 25,000; hospitalizations have dropped 17% to 1,400 per day; and daily deaths are down to 570 a day, which is a decrease of about 17%.
New national estimates show that Omicron’s subvariant BA.2 now accounts for 72% of circulating variants nationally, she said.
Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, reported that recent data supports the need for a second booster among certain people 50 and older – a move authorized by the FDA and CDC last week.
“The effectiveness of the first booster dose we know wanes over time, and growing evidence shows a second dose can restore vaccine effectiveness for certain populations,” he said.
Fauci reported findings from an Israeli study of more than 1 million people 60 and older, which showed that an additional booster dose after 4 months lowered the rate of infection by two times and lowered the rate of severe infection by more than four times.
Another study from Israeli scientists showed that out of half a million people 60 and older, a second booster after 4 months brought a 78% reduction in death, compared to those who received only the first boost.