Week in Review: Long COVID risk; panel reimbursement; multicancer early detection; more

Leo Photo

Dear LabPulse reader:

Long COVID, COVID, and cancer testing provided a basis for noteworthy developments this week.

You may recall that a broad study recently concluded that the prevalence of long COVID is a public health concern. Now, researchers in Spain have found that patients who have long COVID two years after their initial infection are more likely to have symptoms if they were not hospitalized after contracting the disease than those who were hospitalized.

According to research published this week in Infectious Diseases, “Current evidence supports that long COVID will require specific management attention independently of whether the patient has been hospitalized or not.”

With an eye on long COVID as well as COVID itself, companies supplying tests to laboratories are also keenly watching out for a rise in influenza. A moderate-to-severe flu season in the Northern Hemisphere is expected and could trigger greater demand for multianalyte tests that can detect and differentiate influenza A, influenza B, and COVID, Thermo Fisher Scientific’s senior medical director for its infectious disease business said in a recent video interview.

Adjusting to and predicting the changing infectious disease testing environment is just one challenge. Proving the clinical utility of large multianalyte panels to obtain Medicare reimbursement for them looms large as a future hurdle for companies marketing tests to laboratories, he noted.

While the Test-to-Treat initiative created by the Biden administration in March 2022 greatly increased access to COVID-19 testing and antiviral treatment, a recent study called attention to geographic disparities in test and treatment access. Use of a telehealth service is one way to overcome adoption challenges associated with traveling long distances to obtain testing and treatment. This week Lucira Health announced the launch of a program in collaboration with Pfizer that allows COVID-19 testing at home and obtaining a prescription as well as health advice online.

Oncology testing

This week, we also reported on an urgent call for prioritizing the prevention and early diagnosis of cancers in European research centers. Then, on Friday, Grail announced findings from a substudy that formed the basis of the development, refinement, and validation of the targeted methylation platform used in its Galleri multicancer early detection (MCED) test.

We also observed an encouraging development related to the detection of liver cancer. Researchers around the world are seeking to bring more sensitive, affordable liver cancer screening blood tests to the clinic; on Friday, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center reported that it is developing an artificial intelligence-based blood testing technology that detected more than 80% of liver cancers in a new study.

Best wishes,

Leo O’Connor

Editor in Chief

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