The COVID-19 Prevention Network was established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop an effective national response to the COVID pandemic. Tanya Gure, MD, an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center specialist in Internal and Geriatric Medicine, has joined a 10-member advisory panel on older adults that provides input and critique of COVID-19 vaccine development trials, including study protocols and enrollment, and vaccine distribution for older adults.
Researchers, scholars and infectious disease specialists join Dr. Gure to assure adequate representation of priority communities in all research, policy and treatment discussions. In addition to seniors, this includes Black/African American, Latinx and American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian communities throughout the United States, all of whom are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 disease.
“Seniors account for approximately 15% of COVID-19 cases, but account for 80% of all deaths from COVID in the U.S.,” Dr. Gure says. “It is imperative that vulnerable groups such as older adults are adequately represented in any clinical trials so that we understand the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines and therapeutics within this population. The same is true as we develop our messaging so that we can increase confidence in the evidence of what works to combat this virus. And, of course, vaccine distribution represents another important opportunity to protect and prioritize our seniors.”
In addition to her efforts at the national level, Dr. Gure is spearheading COVID-19 care for seniors across central Ohio.
“The resources available through the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center have been crucial to the kind of coordinated care that we are able to provide to assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the area,” she explains. “As an example, after an extensive outbreak at one local nursing home, we were able to quickly set up an on-site infusion center for FDA-approved emergency use of monoclonal antibodies. This early treatment has thus far proven incredibly effective.” Dr. Gure emphasizes the additional importance of being able to deliver this therapy right where the seniors live.
“There’s been no required patient transport, and the seniors have been able to remain in an environment that is already familiar, which has been a great way to reduce their stress and keep them more comfortable.”