September 20, 2023: The US Department of Health and Human Services will award $45 million to clinics for expanding access and care to treat long COVID patients, especially in minority populations and the underserved.
The grants, first of their kind, aim to develop, and implement new or improved care delivery models, foster best practices for long COVID management, and support the primary care community in long COVID education, according to a statement.
The funds meant to be given through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), are for nine grant awards of $1 million each for up to 5 years to support existing multidisciplinary long COVID clinics across the country.
“Treatment of Long COVID is a major focus for HHS, and AHRQ is helping lead the way through grants to investigate best practices and get useful guidance to doctors, hospitals, and patients,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Adm. Rachel L. Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services said: “Without diagnostic tests and treatments specific for long COVID conditions, drawing on the collective experience of healthcare providers is critical in ensuring patients receive the care and support they need.”
Long COVID is commonly described as signs, symptoms, and conditions that continue or develop after an initial COVID-19 infection, with people experiencing persistent, varying, and potentially disabling health impacts.
These challenges have profound implications for people affected, particularly underserved minority populations with a long-standing history of poor access to affordable, quality healthcare.
Limited knowledge and acceptance of long COVID among clinicians and others have contributed to delays in diagnosis and referral to appropriate services.
“These nine grants have strong potential to serve as a roadmap for developing improved care models for primary care and speciality clinics serving populations disproportionately impacted by the effects of Long COVID,” said AHRQ Director Robert Otto Valdez.
In July 2023, to provide a more focused and cross-collaborative effort for long COVID, the HHS announced the establishment of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice.
The NIH RECOVER opened enrollment for phase II Long COVID clinical trials in July that will evaluate at least four potential treatments, with additional trials beginning by the end of the year. Four of today’s award recipients also support the RECOVER consortium.
The COVID-19 virus has killed close to seven million people.