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COVID-19: HHS Reports Vaccine Benefits, NIH Studies Long COVID-19 Effects

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October 11, 2022

An Oct. 7, 2022, report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) links COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 with 650,000 fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations and more than 300,000 fewer deaths among Medicare beneficiaries.

The report also states that reductions in COVID-19 hospitalizations resulted in more than $16 billion in direct medical cost savings.

Following the study, which was conducted by researchers with HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, HHS leaders stressed the importance of getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall.

“This report reaffirms what we have said all along: COVID-19 vaccines save lives and prevent hospitalizations,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sept. 1 endorsed its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations for use of updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters. The updated Pfizer-BioNTech booster is available to those ages 12 and older, while the updated Moderna booster is offered to those ages 18 and older.

NIH Details Plan to Study Long COVID-19

In an Oct. 4 blog post, Walter Koroshetz, MD, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, details work by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study long-term COVID-19 and enhance recovery from the disease.

NIH’s Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) initiative is a national research program to understand post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Through RECOVER, NIH is studying why COVID-19 infections can have lingering effects, why new symptoms may develop, and the effect of SARS-CoV-2 on other diseases and conditions.

The initiative is recruiting more than 17,000 adults, including pregnant people, and more than 18,000 children for cohort studies.

The blog noted that those living with long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection, including long COVID, continue to suffer from a variety of issues, including:

  • debilitating fatigue;
  • shortness of breath;
  • pain;
  • difficulty sleeping,
  • racing heart rate;
  • exercise intolerance;
  • gastrointestinal symptoms; and
  • cognitive problems that make it difficult to perform at work or school.

With these varying symptoms in mind, Koroshetz highlights the need to pursue multiple therapeutic strategies, as it is unlikely that a single therapy will work for everyone.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Director of Policy Rob Nelb, MPH, at rnelb@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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