Health Life

Cutting COVID-19 infectious period could prevent millions of cases

Results from PHICOR’s computational simulation model show reductions in the contagious period of COVID-19 could avert thousands of hospitalizations and millions of cases and save billions of dollars. Credit: Sarah Rebbert/PHICOR, 2020 (CC-BY)

A new computational analysis suggests that a vaccine or medication that could shorten the infectious period of COVID-19 may potentially prevent millions of cases and save billions of dollars. The study was led by Bruce Lee along with colleagues in the Public Health Informatics, Computational, and Operations Research (PHICOR) team headquartered at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and the Lundquist Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and publishes in the open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology.

While much of the public conversation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and medications has focused on preventing or curing the infection, the vaccines and medications that may emerge could have subtler effects. Those that can’t necessarily prevent or cure may still reduce how long someone is contagious.

To clarify the potential value of shortening the infectious period, Lee and colleagues created a that simulates the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They used the model to explore how a vaccine or that can reduce the contagious period might alleviate the clinical and economic impact of the disease.

The simulations suggest that reducing the contagious period by half a day could avert up to 1.4 million cases and over 99,000 hospitalizations, saving $209.5 billion in direct medical and —even if only a quarter of people with symptoms were treated—and incorporating conservative estimates of how contagious the virus may be. Under the same circumstances, cutting the contagious period by 3.5 days could avert up to 7.4 million cases. Expanding such treatment to 75 percent of everyone infected could avert 29.7 million cases and

Health article

How integrative health research tackles the pain management crisis

Pain isn’t simple or straightforward—and neither is treating it. Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recent data from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which helps advance pain research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with other centers and institutes, show that the use of strong opioids for pain management in adults with severe pain has more than doubled since 1998. 

As part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, NCCIH is studying how treatments such as mindfulness, acupuncture, and massage can help address chronic pain while reducing the need for opioids. NCCIH Director Helene Langevin, M.D., talks about the importance of this research and why a pain treatment plan often requires more than just a pill.

What is complementary health?

“We look to research that essentially connects all those various parts of the pain experience together: physical, emotional, and behavioral.”

– Helene Langevin, M.D.

Complementary treatments are not considered alternatives to conventional treatments. Rather, they are meant to “complement,” or to be used together as part of overall health care management.

A lot of these treatments fall under the category that we call “mind and body.” Some treatments are primarily psychologically based, such as meditation.Others are more physically based, like manual therapy or acupuncture. Some are a mixture of both.For example, yoga has a strong mental component but also a physical component with movement.

At NCCIH, we are interested in how these complementary treatments are integrated, or used, with conventional treatments. What is the best way to combine these treatments together to better help patients? We are very engaged with and working in collaboration with the other centers and institutes at NIH to better understand this