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VA research during the COVID-19 pandemic

VA COVID-19 research volunteer list

As one of the nation's leaders in health research, VA is working to find ways to prevent and treat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Visit the website of VA's COVID-19 research volunteer list to learn how you can be part of these efforts and what to expect if you volunteer.

Active VA studies on COVID-19
View active VA studies on COVID-19: Map view | List view


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA Research has undertaken a wide array of activities to support and advance VA’s clinical and research missions and help Veterans affected by the disease.


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These efforts have focused on establishing and taking part in clinical trials and data analysis projects aimed at understanding and treating the disease. VA Research has coordinated closely with internal VA and external partners—such as other federal agencies, and pharmaceutical companies—to identify the areas in which VA’s nationwide research capacity, resources, and infrastructure could make the greatest contribution.

VA Research has taken these actions while working to ensure and promote the safety and well-being of all those involved in research. The program has also been enabling continuity of operations to the extent possible across the entire VA research portfolio, all of which is aimed at improving Veterans’ lives. 

On this web page, we summarize key COVID-19 research activities currently underway across the VA system, and provide background information on how the VA Office of Research and Development has rapidly mobilized the nationwide VA research community and resources to contribute to the national response to the pandemic. The information below is current as of March 1, 2021, and will be updated regularly.

Active research

Below are examples of COVID-19 research underway in VA.

Clinical trials

As of mid-February 2021, more than 50 VA medical centers are involved in one or more COVID-19 clinical trials. Below are several examples. A full list of COVID-19 Clinical Trials in VA is also available.

  • Testing prostate cancer drug—VA is funding a phase 2 clinical trial, the Hormonal Intervention for the Treatment in Veterans with COVID-19 Requiring Hospitalization (HITCH) trial, exploring whether degarelix, an androgen suppressor treatment used in prostate cancer, may be effective for men with COVID-19. The trial is active in 13 of 14 planned sites across the country.
  • VA CURES—The wide-reaching “VA CURES” master protocol, launched in August 2020, enables a series of clinical trials across VA, the first one involving 702 Veterans who are hospitalized for COVID-19 from 25 VA sites. The study is examining the effects of convalescent plasma. VA CURES stands for “Coronavirus Research and Efficacy Studies.” The initiative aims to give Veterans faster access to potential COVID-19 treatments and to test their effectiveness. As a master protocol, VA CURES offers a standardized framework for studies on many potential treatments for COVID-19, without the need for a new study design and protocol each time.
  • VA has been part of two major national research initiatives on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics:  Operation Warp Speed (OWS) and the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) initiative.
    • Through OWS and other efforts, VA has been an active participant in several clinical trials designed to evaluate potential COVID-19 vaccines. These trials have included:
      • The Moderna/COVE trial, which took place at one VA site and is now closed to enrollment. In December 2020, Moderna obtained an emergency use authorization for its vaccine from the FDA.  
      • The AstraZeneca trial, for which one VA site continues to recruit on a limited basis.
      • The Janssen ENSEMBLE trial, which included 17 VA sites and is now closed to enrollment. The vaccine received FDA emergency use authorization in late February 2021.
      • The Pfizer trial, in which one VA site participated. In December 2020, Pfizer obtained an emergency use authorization for its vaccine from the FDA.  
      • The Novavax trial, which began in late December 2020 and for which two VA sites are currently recruiting.
    • A few ACTIV protocols are in various stages at VA medical centers:
        • ACTIV-2, an outpatient trial of monoclonal antibodies and antivirals, is now in its second phase, and several VA sites are registering for inclusion. The first phase, looking at the Lilly CoV555 monoclonal antibody, has been completed.
        • ACTIV-3, an inpatient trial of a monoclonal antibody, is expected to involve about 25 VA medical centers.
  • Trials with industry—VA is taking part in a number of industry-sponsored studies of promising medications for COVID-19. These include, for example, studies of the drug tocilizumab with Hoffman-La Roche, and sarilumab with Regeneron. Both drugs are used in arthritis care and block an inflammatory protein known as IL-6.
  • Remdesivir trial with NIH—VA sites have been taking part in a randomized, placebo-controlled study of remdesivir and other medications for hospitalized patients with COVID-19, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Observational studies

  • Natural history study—VA is collaborating with the Department of Defense on an observational, natural history study of COVID-19 illness titled “Epidemiology, Immunology and Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19” (EPIC3). Researchers will collect data and biospecimens from volunteers for up to two years to better understand the clinical course of COVID-19. Recruitment at up to 16 sites began in July 2020.
  • COVID-19 and cancer—The National Cancer Institute COVID-19 in Cancer Patients Study, or NCCAPS, is a natural history study of COVID-19 in people with cancer. In a natural history study, researchers follow people and collect medical and other information about them over time to learn more about how a disease and its symptoms develop and change. Diagnosis and treatment of a disease are not part of natural history studies. The knowledge gained through this study will help doctors better manage treatment for people with cancer and COVID-19 in the future. As part of the NCCAPS study, researchers will collect blood samples, medical information, and medical images from 2,000 people with cancer who also have COVID-19. Each person will be followed for up to two years to help doctors understand how cancer affects COVID-19 and COVID-19 affects cancer. The study is recruiting volunteers nationwide, including at 11 VA locations.

Data analysis projects

  • COVID-19 Insights Partnership—VA is a key partner in the COVID-19 Insights Partnership, along with the departments of Energy (DOE) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The initiative aims to coordinate and share health data as well as research and expertise to aid in the fight against COVID-19.The Partnership creates a framework for VA and HHS to use DOE’s world-leading high-performance computing and artificial intelligence resources to conduct COVID-19 research and analyze health data.
  • Million Veteran Program—VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP) has deployed a COVID-19 questionnaire to participants to collect information about their experience with COVID-19. In addition, MVP has prioritized a series of research questions to examine the genetic basis of infection by SARS CoV-2; complications of infection; disease severity and outcomes; and response to various medications. MVP will also seek to identify disease mechanisms and new treatment targets for COVID-19. Given MVP’s racially and ethnically diverse participant population (~ 20% African American and 7% Hispanic), the influence of race and ethnicity on disease susceptibility, severity, and outcomes will be an integral part of the analyses.
  • Synthesizing evidence from publications—Researchers from the HSR&D Evidence Synthesis Program are working to help synthesize publications about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, and to translate that information quickly into usable guidance for clinicians. The ESP’s completed reports can be found here.
    Additional evidence reviews can be found at www.covid19reviews.org. The goal of this resource is to capture the work of evidence synthesis groups, like VA’s, around the US and the globe, and thereby avoid duplication of effort and maximize the contribution of these researchers. The catalog is maintained by the VA ESP Coordinating Center in Portland, Oregon. New evidence reviews and reviews in progress are identified through literature searching and correspondence with colleagues and content experts. The team has also set up a listserv to facilitate collaboration among systematic review researchers.
  • International collaboration—Researchers with the VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure team are participating in the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (or OHDSI, pronounced "Odyssey") program, an international, interdisciplinary collaborative to maximize the value of health data through large-scale analytics.
  • COVID Observational Research Collaboratory—A VA research initiative is bringing together VA experts to analyze the use and effects of COVID-19 drugs with clinical partners interested in the safety and efficiency of these therapies. VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service, Clinical Science Research and Development Service, and Cooperative Studies Program established the collaboratory soon after the pandemic took hold earlier this year.
  • Dementia patients—VA researchers in Providence have funding from the National Institute on Aging to study COVID-19 risk factors and outcomes among Veterans with dementia who live in VA community living centers.

Other research activities

  • Facilitating access to investigational drugs under the FDA’s expanded access, or “compassionate use,” program—VA Research has streamlined and organized a central assistance process for VA medical centers seeking expanded access (a.k.a. compassionate use) under FDA rules to investigational drugs for COVID-19 treatments. One treatment being used under this program is transfusions of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. This “convalescent” plasma contains antibodies that researchers believe may help other patients. Some 80 VA sites have treated more than 500 Veterans with convalescent plasma as part of the Mayo Clinic’s “expanded access” study of this therapy for COVID-19. The Mayo Clinic study is no longer enrolling participants, now focusing on data collection and analysis.
  • COVID-19 and mental health—In addition to studying how to prevent or treat COVID-19, VA is examining the mental health impact of the pandemic. To date, ORD has funded nearly 30 studies looking at mental, behavioral, and social health and COVID-19. Some are new projects focused wholly on COVID-19, whereas others are supplements to existing projects that are broader in scope. The following study titles indicate some of the themes being explored:
    • Inflammatory and Mental Health Sequelae of COVID-19 in Veterans
    • An Integrative Technology Approach to Home-Based Conjoint Therapy for PTSD  
    • Impact of COVID-19 On Mental Health, Relationship Functioning and VA Telemental Health Service Use in a Longitudinal Cohort Study    
    • Impact of COVID-19 and Social Distancing on Mental Health and Suicide Risk in Veterans
    • Piloting a Self-Help Intervention to Improve Veteran Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Mixed-Methods Pilot Study of the Impacts of Telemental Healthcare for High-Risk Veterans with Opioid Use Disorder During COVID-19
    • Adapting Caring Contacts to Counteract Adverse Effects of Social Distancing among High-Risk Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Virtual Pain Care for High-Risk Veterans on Opioids During COVID-19 (and Beyond)
    • Changes in the Delivery of Evidenced-Based Psychotherapies for Depression and PTSD as the Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Impacts of COVID-19 on African American Veterans with Chronic Pain
  • Biomedical studies—VA biomedical researchers are part of the fight against COVID-19. The following project titles illustrate the scope of the VA lab studies already completed or being conducted to better understand how the virus works, and to identify new ways to keep it from spreading and causing disease.
    • 3D-Printed Respirator Mask Performance with and without Virus Inactivation 
    • A Safe Validation to Test the Efficacy of Disinfectants on Reusable 3D-Printed Face Masks During the COVID-19 Pandemic 
    • Leukocyte Rewiring as a Mechanism of COVID-19-ARDS 
    • Viral and Immune Dynamics of Sars-Cov-2 Infection in Moderate and Severe COVID-
    • Predictive Immune and Airway Monitoring in Healthcare Workers and Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients 
  • Boosting the VA supply chain—Rehabilitation researchers are helping to build a more resilient supply chain for VA. Researchers from several centers are involved, such as the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) in Pittsburgh; the Center for Limb Loss and Mobility at the Puget Sound VA; the Minneapolis Adaptive Design and Engineering Program; and the Advanced Platform Technology Center in Cleveland. Partners in this effort include the VA Innovation Ecosystem, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and America Makes. These researchers and their colleagues have been designing, fabricating, and evaluating personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support VA’s response to this pandemic, such as masks, face shields, desk shields, nasal testing swabs. In many cases, 3D printing is involved.

COVID-19 work highlighted on HSR&D site

For a concise overview of current VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) efforts on COVID-19, visit COVID-19 Efforts.

Selected Studies of Note

Anticoagulants could lower COVID-19 mortality risk
Anticoagulation medication could lower the risk of death from COVID-19, according to a study by VA researcher and colleagues. The study looked at data on more than 4,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Most of the patients were given medication to prevent blood clots. Results show that patients given the medication had a 27% lower risk of dying from COVID-19 within 30 days of hospitalization, compared with patients not receiving anticoagulants. Anticoagulant use was not associated with serious bleeding events. The findings provide strong evidence for the use of anticoagulants as an initial treatment for COVID-19, say the researchers. (BMJ, Feb. 11, 2021)

Potential new medication for treating COVID-19
A team led by a Jesse Brown VA Medical Center researcher created a potential new medication to treat COVID-19. The virus behind COVID-19 binds with an enzyme in the body called ACE2, which allows it to enter human cells. The researchers designed a peptide (a chain of amino acids) that blocks ACE2 from binding with the spike proteins on the outside of the virus. They gave the new peptide to mice with symptoms that mimic COVID-19 as a nasal spray. The spray reduced fever, protected the lungs, and improved heart function and the mice’s movement. The results could lead to an important new treatment for COVID-19, according to the researchers. (Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, Jan. 11, 2021)

COVID-19 protein can enter the brain
A study by VA Puget Sound and University of Washington researchers showed that the virus causing COVID-19 may be able to enter the brain. Researchers found that the spike proteins, protrusions on the surface of the virus, can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brains of mice. The blood-brain barrier is a border of cells that usually prevents harmful compounds from moving from the blood to the central nervous system. The fact that the spike proteins can cross this barrier on their own suggests that the full virus may be able enter the brain as well. The results add to the understanding of how COVID-19 can affect the central nervous system, and could help scientists develop treatments to counter its damaging effects. (Nature Neuroscience, Dec. 26, 2020)

COVID-19 patients at higher risk of death, health problems than those with flu
COVID-19 patients are at much higher risk of health problems and death than those with the flu, showed a study by St. Louis VA and Washington University researchers. Researchers looked at VA data on more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients and more than 12,000 flu patients. COVID-19 patients were five times more likely to die than flu patients. COVID-19 patients were also four times more likely to require breathing machines and almost 2.5 times more likely to be treated in the intensive care unit. COVID-19 patients were hospitalized for an average of three days longer than flu patients. Compared with flu patients, COVID-19 patients were also at higher risk of developing diabetes, acute kidney damage, and other medical conditions. (BMJ, Dec. 15, 2020)


First 10-days after hospitalization high-risk for COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 patients are at the highest risk of ending up back in the hospital or dying in the first 10 days after leaving the hospital, according to a VA Ann Arbor and University of Michigan study. In the first 10 days after leaving the hospital, COVID-19 patients had a 40% to 60% higher risk of returning to the hospital or dying, compared with patients with heart failure or pneumonia. Risk of readmission or death after 60 days was lower in COVID-19 patients than in patients with these two conditions. The results highlight a need for “special vigilance” in the first days after hospital discharge, say the researchers. (JAMA, Dec. 14, 2020)

Nurses at higher risk of COVID-19 than other health care workers
Nurses are more likely than other health care workers to test positive for the virus causing COVID-19, found a study including an Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital researcher. Researchers looked at COVID-19 test data for more than 6,500 health care workers. Nearly 2,000 of those were nurses. About 5% tested positive for the virus. Nurses had nearly twice the odds of testing positive, compared with other health care workers. Administrators who worked in hospitals but did not interact with patients were the least likely to test positive. Nurses who saw patients receiving high-flow oxygen therapy had a 45% higher risk of contracting the virus, and those treating patients receiving kidney dialysis had 57% higher odds, compared with other nurses. The results show that health care workers who spend more time around COVID-19 patients, such as nurses, are at increased risk from the virus, say the researchers. (Open Forum Infectious Disease, Dec. 9, 2020)

Race-based COVID-19 disparities
African American and Hispanic populations have higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death compared with other ethnic groups, according to a VA Portland review. Researchers reviewed 37 studies on COVID-19 data. They found that African American and Hispanic patients had disproportionately higher rates of virus infection, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, compared with white patients. While these groups had a higher proportion of deaths from COVID-19, they did not show a higher risk of death in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Asian patients had similar COVID-19 rates as white patients. Not enough data exist on other racial groups to draw conclusions. The higher COVID-19 rates appear to be due to differences in health care access and exposure risk rather than any biological disposition, according to the researchers. (Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 1, 2020)

Elevated immune response leads to more severe COVID-19
Elevated immune response is associated with more severe COVID-19 and death, found a review led by a Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center researcher. The review analyzed 16 previous studies. Researchers found that COVID-19 patients with higher levels of interleukins, proteins secreted by the immune system, were more likely to have worse symptoms or die, compared with patients with lower levels. Conversely, high levels of a different type of immune proteins (CD4 and CD8) were linked to better prognosis in COVID-19 patients. The results suggest that medications that block interleukin production could be a useful treatment for COVID-19, say the researchers. A number of interleukin blockers are already being tested as possible treatments. (Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, November–December 2020)

Blood pressure medications not linked to worse COVID-19
Common blood pressure drugs are not linked to worse COVID-19 outcomes, according to a review by VA Portland researchers. Researchers reviewed 17 studies on how angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) interact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Both types of drugs are used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Evidence suggests that taking ACE inhibitors or ARBS does not lead to more severe COVID-19. The drugs also were not linked to positive SARS-CoV-2 test results. The researchers found four studies looking at ACE inhibitors or as COVID-19 treatments, but results from these studies are not yet available. (Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 4, 2020)

VACO Index can accurately predict COVID-19 mortality risk from health data
The VA COVID-19 (VACO) Index can accurately predict risk of COVID-19 mortality using demographic and health data, according to a VA study. Researchers used VA medical administrative data to develop a tool to assess who is at highest risk of dying from COVID-19 within 30 days of infection. The VACO Index takes into account demographics such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity, as well as pre-existing medical conditions. To validate this measure, the researchers assessed more than 13,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19. Older age, multiple health conditions, and a history of heart attack or peripheral vascular disease were all associated with increased risk of death from COVID-19. The Index accurately predicted higher likelihood of death. The VACO Index could provide a timely, quantifiable, and individualized risk estimate of COVID-19 mortality risk, say the researchers, which will aid in social distancing and treatment decisions. (PLoS One, Nov. 11, 2020)

COVID-19 has five times higher in-hospital death rate than flu
Patients with COVID-19 hospitalized in the Veterans Health Administration had a more than five times higher risk of death than patients hospitalized with the flu, found a CDC study including VA researchers. Researchers looked at electronic health records data from nearly 4,000 patients with COVID-19 and more than 5,000 with influenza. Those hospitalized for COVID-19 had a much higher death rate. COVID-19 also carries a significantly higher risk of both respiratory and non-respiratory complications, compared with flu. Risk of COVID-19 complications was higher in Black and Hispanic patients, compared with white patients. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Oct. 23, 2020)

Testing for virus presence after COVID-19 infection
Researchers from the San Francisco VA and University of California San Francisco studied how long it took health care workers with COVID-19 to test negative after initial infection. They tested 12 employees with reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). RT-PCR measures the amount of a specific type of RNA (genetic material). It can be used to test for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19. The time between initial COVID-19 infection and a negative test ranged from seven to 57 days. The average time was 34.5 days. Understanding this time range could help institutions make decisions on when it is safe for employees to return to work, say the researchers. (Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Aug. 13, 2020)

COVID-19 fever screening criteria lack accuracy in older patients
A new approach to temperature screening for COVID-19 is needed in nursing homes, according to a Providence VA Medical Center study. Current guidance for COVID-19 screening in nursing homes includes checking for fever, defined as at least 38°C. However, many older patients may not reach this temperature threshold even when infected. Researchers studied SARS-CoV-2 screening data on more than 7,000 residents of VA community living centers. They found that, while SARS-CoV-2 positive patients did show rising temperatures, only 27% met the fever threshold of 38°C. Repeated temperature measurement with a patient-specific baseline could improve screening efforts in older patients, conclude the researchers. (Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, July 2020)

Universal COVID-19 testing needed in community living centers
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System researchers discovered the benefit of universal COVID-19 testing and daily screening for all staff and residents in community living centers. After identifying two cases of COVID-19 testing, all staff members and residents were administered RT-PCR testing. They found 14 of 19 residents who tested positive showed no symptoms of infection. Half of the eight staff members who tested positive were also asymptomatic. The researchers concluded that universal and repeated lab-based testing for the virus was an effective strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 29, 2020)

Selected Scientific Articles by VA Researchers

Clinical Trials

A neutralizing monoclonal antibody for hospitalized patients with Covid-19. ACTIV-3/TICO LY-CoV555 Study group, Lundgren JD, et al. Monoclonal antibody LY-CoV555, when coadministered with remdesivir, did not demonstrate efficacy among hospitalized patients who had COVID-19. N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 22. Online ahead of print.


Laboratory Studies

Dysregulated transcriptional responses to SARS-CoV-2 in the periphery. McClain MT, et al. Blood tests revealed both diverse and conserved components of the immune response in COVID-19 and provide for potential biomarker-based approaches to diagnosis. Nature Commun. 2021 Feb 17;12(1):1079.

Quantifying absolute neutralization titers against SARS-CoV-2 by a standardized virus neutralization assay allows for cross-cohort comparisons of COVID-19 sera. Oguntuyo KY, et al. Researchers developed a test of the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments that avoids using the live virus. mBio. 2021 Feb 16;12(1):e02492-20.

A drug repurposing screen identifies hepatitis C antivirals as inhibitors of the SARS-CoV2 main protease. Baker JD, Uhrich RL, Kraemer GC, Love JE, Kraemer BC. Hepatitis C drugs have potential to be repurposed as a treatment for COVID-19. PLoS One. 2021 Feb 1;16(2):e0245962.

Peptide suppresses inflammation to reduce fever and protect lungs and heart in mice: Implications for COVID-19 therapy. Paidi RK, Jana M, Mishra RK, Dutta D, Raha , Pahan K. Researchers engineered a peptide that inhibits the interaction between the spike proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the ACE2 enzyme. This could lead to medication that reduces fever and protects the lungs and heart during COVID-19 infection. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2021 Jan 11. Online ahead of print.

Flow-mediated susceptibility and molecular response of cerebral endothelia to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Kaneko N, Satta S, Komuro Y, Muthukrishnan SD, Kakarla V, Guo L, An J, Elahi F, Kornblum HI, Liebeskind DS, Hsiai T, Hinman JD. Brain endothelial cells are susceptible to direct infection by the COVID-19 virus, which could cause cerebrovascular events such as stroke. Stroke. 2021 Jan;52(1):260-270.


Spike glycoprotein and host cell determinants of SARS-CoV-2 entry and cytopathic effects. Nguyen HT, Zhang S, Wang Q, Anang S, Wang J, Ding H, Kappes JC, Sodroski J. Researchers identified key structural features of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that could be useful in vaccine and other treatment development. J Virol. 2020 Dec 22. Online ahead of print.

The S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 crosses the blood brain barrier in mice. Rhea EM ,Logsdon AF, Hansen KM, Williams LM, Reed MJ, Baumann KK. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was able to enter into the brain tissue, in a mouse model. Nat Neurosci. 2020 Dec 16. Online ahead of print.

Lower respiratory tract myeloid cells harbor SARS-CoV-2 and display an inflammatory phenotype. Bain WG, Peñaloza HF, Ladinsky MS, van der Geest R, Sullivan M, Ross M, Methe B, McVerry BJ, Morris A, Watson AM, Watkins SC, St Croix CM, Stolz DB, Bjorkman PJ, Lee JS. Lower respiratory tract cells can harbor the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and show signs of inflammation. Chest. 2020 Nov 17;S0012-3692(20)35157-6.

A high-throughput assay for circulating antibodies directed against the S protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Weiss S, Klinger J, Hioe C, Amanat F, Baine I, Arinsburg S, Kojic EM, Stoeyer J, Liu ST, Jurczyszak D, Bermudez-Gonzalez M, Simon V, Krammer F, Zolla-Pazner S. J Infect Dis. 2020 Oct 13;222(10):1629-1634. Researchers developed a new SARS-CoV-2 test that is accurate and requires only 2.5 hours for results. J Infect Dis. 2020 Oct 13;222(10):1629-1634.

Platelet gene expression and function in patients with COVID-19. Manne BK, Denorme F, Middleton EA, Portier I, Rowley JW, Stubben C, Petrey AC, Tolley ND, Guo L, Cody M, Weyrich AS, Yost CC, Rondina MT, Compbell RA. Patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 show altered platelet gene expression and functional responses. Blood. 2020 Sep 10;136(11):1317-1329.

Neutrophil extracellular traps contribute to immunothrombosis in COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome. Middleton EA, et al. Researchers explored how substances called neutrophil extracellular traps are involved in the clinical presentation of COVID-19, and show that these substances may represent targets for new treatments. Blood. 2020 Sep 3;136(10):1169-1179.

Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 and diverse RNA and DNA viruses on 3D printed surgical mask materials. Welch JL, Xiang J, Mackin SR, Perlman S, Thorne P, O’Shaughnessy P, Strzelecki B, Aubin P, Ortiz-Hernandez M, Stapleton JT. Several decontamination approaches effectively disinfect 3D-printed mask material. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 Aug 12:1-26.

Characterization of heparin and severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike glycoprotein binding interactions. Kim SY, Jin W, Sood A, Montgomery DW, Grant OC, Fuster MM, Fu L, Dordick JS, Woods RJ, Zhang F, Linhardt RJ. This article provides the groundwork for biological evaluation and design of glycosaminoglycan-based COVID-19 therapeutics. Antiviral Res. 2020 Jul 9;181:104873.

Evaluation of an electrostatic spray disinfectant technology for rapid decontamination of portable equipment and large open areas in the era of SARS-CoV-2. Cadnum JL, Jencson AL, Livingston SH, Li DF, Redmond SN, Pearlmutter B, Wilson BM, Donskey CJ. Wheelchairs, portable equipment, and waiting room chairs are frequently contaminated with potential pathogens. Application of a dilute sodium hypochlorite disinfectant using an electrostatic sprayer provided rapid and effective decontamination and eliminated the benign virus bacteriophage MS2 from inoculate surfaces. Am J Infect Control. 2020 Jun 6. Online ahead of print.

Identification of potential natural inhibitors of SARS-CoV2 main protease by molecular docking and simulation studies. Gupta S, Singh AK, Kushwaha PP, Prajapati KS, Shuaib M, Senapti S, Kumar S. A protein was identified that may be an effective drug target for future COVID-19 treatments. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2020 Jun 1:1-12. Online ahead of print.

Evaluation of ultraviolet-C light for rapid decontamination of airport security bins in the era of SARS-CoV-2. Cadnum JL, Li DF, Jones LD, Redmond SN, Pearlmutter B, Wilson BM, Donskey CJ. UV-C light administered in proximity to a plastic bin reduced contamination. Pathog Immun. 2020 May 22;5(1):133-142.

TMPRSS2 and TMPRSS4 promote SARS-CoV-2 infection of human small intestinal enterocytes. Zang R, Gomez Castro MF, McCune BT, Zeng Q, Rothlauf PW, Sonnek NM, Liu Z, Brulois KF, Wang X, Greenberg HB, Diamond MS, Ciorba MA, Whelan SPJ, Ding S. The intestine is a potential site of SARS-CoV-2 replication, which may contribute to local and systemic illness and overall disease progression. Sci Immunol. 2020 May 13;5(47):eabc3582.

Data Analysis/Review

Short-term effects of cancelled elective procedures due to COVID-19: Evidence from the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Tran LD, Rose L, Urech T, Dalton A, Wu S, Vashi AA. The pause in elective surgical cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic was not associated with short-term adverse outcomes in VA hospitals, suggesting appropriate surgical case triage and management. Ann Surg. 2021 Feb 12. Online ahead of print.

Nursing home oversight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stevenson DG, Chang AK. In the months since COVID-19 first impacted nursing homes, regulatory oversight efforts have fallen off considerably. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021 Feb 12. Online ahead of print.

Association of mortality and aspirin prescription for COVID-19 patients at the Veterans Health Administration. Osborne TF, Veigulis ZP, Arreola DM, Mahajan SM, Röösli E, Curtin CM. Pre-diagnosis aspirin prescription was strongly associated with decreased mortality rates for Veterans diagnosed with COVID-19. PLoS One. 2021 Feb 11;16(2):e0246825.

Coronavirus disease 2019 in Veterans receiving care at Veterans Health Administration facilities. Luo J, Jeyapalina S, Stoddard GJ, Kwok AC, Agarwal JP. Elderly Veterans and Veterans with a history of cardiovascular disease represent a large proportion of the VA COVID-19 cases and deaths. Black Veterans had higher mortality rates but lower case fatality rates than white Veterans. Ann Epidemiol. 2021 Mar;55:10-14.

Patient characteristics associated with telemedicine use at a large academic health system before and after COVID-19. Kakani P, Sorensen A, Quinton JK, Han M, Ong MK, Kamdar N, Sarkisian CA. Older patients, patients belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, low-income patients, and uninsured patients were less likely to use telemedicine, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Jan 27;1-3.


COVID-19-related hospitalization rates and severe outcomes among Veterans from 5 Veterans Affairs medical centers: Hospital-based surveillance study. Cardemil CV, Dahl R, Prill MM, Cates J, Brown S, Perea A, Marconi V, Bell L, Rodriguez-Barradas MC, Rivera-Dominguez G, Beenhouwer D, Poteshkina A, Holodniy M, Lucero-Obusan C, Balachandran N, Hall AJ, Kim L, Langley G. COVID-19 hospitalization rates and severe outcomes are high among older Veterans. Hospitalizations are higher among Hispanic, Latino, and Black Veterans than among white Veterans. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2021 Jan 22;7(1):e24502.

Association of intensive care unit patient load and demand with mortality rates in US Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bravata DM, Perkins AJ, Myers LJ, Arling G, Zhang Y, Zillich AJ, Reese L, Dysangco A, Agarwal R, Myers J, Austin C, Leonard SJ, Dev S, Keyhani S. Strains on critical care capacity were associated with increased COVID-19 ICU mortality in VA medical centers. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Jan 4;4(1):e2034266.

Prevalence and risk factors for delirium in critically ill patients with COVID-19 (COVID-D): A multicentre cohort study. Pun BT, et al. Acute brain dysfunction was highly prevalent and prolonged in critically ill patients with COVID-19. Benzodiazepine use and lack of family visitation were risk factors for delirium. Lancet Respir Med. 2021 Jan 8. Online ahead of print.

End-of-life care in the time of COVID-19: Communication matters more than ever. Ersek M, Smith D, Griffin H, Carpenter J, Feder SL, Shreve ST, Nelson FX, Kinder D, Thorpe JM, Kutney-Lee A. Effective remote communication with the patient and health care team was associated with significantly better ratings of the overall experience of end-of-life care by bereaved family members. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2021 Jan 4. Online ahead of print.

Periprocedural complications in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to those without infection: A nationwide propensity-matched analysis. Lal BK, Prasad NK, Englum BR, Turner DJ, Siddiqui T, Carlin MM, Lake R, Sorkin JD. Pulmonary, septic, and ischemic complications are increased in COVID-19 positive patients, compared to negative patients. Am J Surg. 2020 Dec 28. Online ahead of print.

Healing after Covid-19: Are survivors at risk for development of pulmonary fibrosis? McDonald LT. This review examines current basic and clinical data regarding fibrogenic mechanisms of viral injury in the context of SARS-CoV-2. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2020 Dec 23. Online ahead of print.

Coronavirus disease 2019 in Veterans receiving care at Veterans Health Administration facilities. Luo J, Jeyapalina S, Stoddard GJ, Kwok AC, Agarwal JP. Elderly Veterans and Veterans with a history of cardiovascular disease represent a large proportion of the VA COVID1-9 cases and deaths. Black Veterans had higher mortality rates, but lower case fatality rates when compared with white Veterans. Ann Epidemiol. 2020 Dec 15. Online ahead of print.

COVID-19 infections among healthcare personnel in the United States Veterans Health Administration, March – August, 2020. Oda G, Sharma A, Lucero-Obusan C, Schirmer P, Sohoni P, Holodniy M. Between March and August 2020, nearly 6,000 VA health care workers contracted COVID19. Of those, 18 died after infection. J Occup Environ Med. 2020 Dec 11. Online ahead of print.

Facial personal protective equipment: Materials, resterilization methods, and management of occupation-related dermatoses. Yu J, Goldminz A, Chisolm S, Jacob SE, Zippin JH, Wu PA, Hylwa S, Dunnick CA, Chen JK, Reeder M, Honari G, Atwater AR. There are increasing reports of occupational dermatoses associated with facial personal protective equipment. This review discusses the components of facial PPE, mask resterilization methods, and strategies for prevention and management of facial dermatoses. Dermatitis. 2020 Dec 1. Online ahead of print.

Association of PTSD with COVID-19 testing and infection in the Veterans Health Administration. Haderlein TP, Wong MS, Yuan A, Llorente MD, Washington DL. Veterans with PTSD were more likely to be tested for COVID-19 than those without PTSD. However, Veterans with PTSD were less likely to test positive. J Psychiatr Res. 2020 Nov 23. Online ahead of print.

Metformin is associated with decreased 30-day mortality among nursing home residents infected with SARS-CoV2. Lally M, Tsoukas P, Halladay C, O’Neill E, Gravenstein S, Rudolph JL. Nursing home residents taking metformin-containing diabetes drugs has a reduction in 30-day mortality after COVID-19 infection. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020 Oct 26;S1525-8610(20)30924-5.

Acute kidney injury in a national cohort of hospitalized US Veterans with COVID-19. Bowe B, Cai M, Xie Y, Gibson AK, Maddukuri G, Al-Aly Z. Acute kidney injury is common during hospitalization with COVID-19 and associated with higher risk of health care resource use and death. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2020 Nov 16. Online ahead of print.

Cycle threshold to test positivity in COVID-19 for return to work clearance in health care workers. Domeracki S, Clapp RN, Taylor K, Lu CM, Lampiris H, Blanc PD. Considering estimated viral load testing may help inform return-to-work planning and decision making beyond solely relying on positive/negative test results. J Occup Environ Med. 2020 Nov;62(11):889-891.

Emerging mechanisms of pulmonary vasoconstriction in SARS-CoV-2-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and potential therapeutic targets. Karmouty-Quintana H, Thandavarayan RA, Keller SP, Sahay S, Pandit LM, Akkanti B. In this review, the authors outline emerging mechanisms of pulmonary vascular dysfunction in COVID-19 and outline potential treatment options that have been clinically tested. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 29;21(21):E8081.

Association of poor housing conditions with COVID-19 incidence and mortality across US counties. Ahmad K, Erqou S, Shah N, Nazir U, Morrison AR, Choudhary G, Wu WC. Counties with higher percentage of households with poor housing had higher incidence of, and mortality associated with, COVID-19. PLoS One. 2020 Nov 2;15(11):e0241327.

Virtual care expansion in the Veterans Health Administration during the COVID-19 pandemic: Clinical services and patient characteristics associated with utilization. Ferguson JM, Jacobs J, Yefimova M, Greene L, Heyworth L, Zulman DM. Veterans with high clinical or social need had higher likelihood of virtual service use early in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, older, homeless, and rural Veterans were less likely to have video visits, raising concerns for access barriers. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2020 Oct 30. Online ahead of print.

ACE2 mouse models: A toolbox for cardiovascular and pulmonary research. Jia H, Yue X, Lazertigues E. The purpose of this review is to provide researchers with the genetic tools available for further understanding of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 biology and for the investigation of ACE2 in the pathogenesis and treatment of COVID-19. Nat Commun. 2020 Oct 14;11(1):5165.

Impact of exposure to patients with COVID-19 on residents and fellows: an international survey of 1420 trainees. Cravero AL, Kim NJ, Feld LD, Berry K, Rabiee A, Bazarbashi N, Bassin S, Lee TH, Moon AM, Qi X, Liang PS, Aby ES, Khan MQ, Young KJ, Patel A, Wijarnpreecha K, Kobeissy A, Hashim A, Houser A, Ioannou GN. Exposure to patients with COVID-19 is significantly associated with higher burnout rates in physician trainees. Postgrad Med J. 2020 Oct 21. Online ahead of print.

Geographic variation of racial disparities in health and COVID-19 mortality. Parcha V, Malla G, Suri SS, Kalra R, Heindl B, Berra L, Fouad MN, Arora G, Arora P. Racial disparities in COVID-19 are largely driven by higher cumulative incidence of infection in Black patients. There is a discordance between the geographic dispersion of COVID-19 mortality and the regional distribution of health factors. Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes. 2020 Oct 6. Online ahead of print.

Temperature screening for SARS-CoV-2 in nursing homes: Evidence from two national cohorts. McConeghy KW, White E, Panagiotou OA, Santostefano C, Halladay C, Feifer RA, Blackman C, Rudolph JL, Mor V, Gravenstein S. A definition of 38.0°C for fever in nursing home screening tools should be lowered to improve predictive accuracy for SARS-CoV-2 infection. J AM Geriatr Soc. 2020 Oct 9. Online ahead of print.

The ten reasons why corticosteroid therapy reduces mortality in sever COVID-19. Arabi YM, chrousos GP, Meduri GU. This article summarizes the current understanding of the effect of corticosteroid therapy in severe COVID-19, which appears to reduce mortality. Intensive Care Med. 2020 Oct 7;1-4.

Long-term hydroxychloroquine use in patients with rheumatic conditions and development of SARS-CoV-2 infection: A retrospective cohort study. Gentry CA, Humphrey MB, Thind SK, Hendrickson SC, Kurdgelashvili G, Williams RJ 2nd. Hydroxychloroquine was not associated with a preventive effect against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a large group of patients with rheumatological conditions. Lancet Rheumatol. 202 0Sep 21. Online ahead of print.

Seroprevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among VA healthcare system employees suggests higher risk of infection when exposed to SARS-CoV-2 outside of the work environment. Dimcheff DE, Schildhouse RJ, Hausman MS, Vincent BM, Markovitz E, Chensue SW, Deng J, McLeod M, Hagan D, Russel J, Bradley SF. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among VA employees was not significantly different among those who provided direct patient care and those who did not. Employees who reported direct personal contact with COVID-19-positive persons outside of work were more likely to have virus antibodies. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 Sep 23:1-25.

Patterns of COVID-19 testing and mortality by race and ethnicity among United States Veterans: A nationwide cohort study. Rentsch CT, Kidwai-Khan F, Tate JP, Park LS, King JT Jr, Skanderson M, Hauser RG, Schultze A, Jarvis CI, Holodniy M, Lo Re V 3rd, Akgün KM, Crothers K, Taddei TH, Freiberg MS, Justice AC. Black and Hispanic individuals are experiencing excess burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection not entirely explained by underlying medical conditions or where they live and receive care. PLoS Med. 2020 Sep 22;17(9):e1003379.

Utility of repeat nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing and refinement of diagnostic stewardship strategies at a tertiary care academic center in a low-prevalence area of the United States. Lepak AJ, Chen DJ, Buys A, Stevens L, Safdar N. Repeat inpatient testing after initial negative COVID-19 result with the RT-PCR test failed to demonstrate negative-to-positive conversion, suggesting that sensitivity of the test may be higher than previously believed. Open Forum Infect Dis. 202 0Aug 27;8(9):ofaa388.

Endocrine significance of SARS-CoV-2’s reliance on ACE2. Lazartigues E, Qadir MMF, Mauvais-Jarvis F. This review discusses the rapidly evolving knowledge of the potential role of the ACE2 enzyme and coronaviruses in the development of diabetes, hypogonadism, and pituitary and thyroid diseases. Endocrinology. 2020 Sep 1;161(9): bqaa108.

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor and angiotensin II receptor blocker use among outpatients diagnoses with COVID-19. Bae DJ, Tehrani DM, Rabadia SV, Frost M, Parikh RV, Calfon=Press M, Aksoy O, Umar S, Ardehali R, Rabbani A, Bokhoor P, Nsair A, Currier J, Tobis J, Fonarow GC, Dave R, Rafique AM. Among patients diagnosed with COVID-19, ACE inhibitor/ARB use for high blood pressure was not associated with increased risk of hospital admission. Am J Cardiol. 2020 Jul 12. Online ahead of print.

Income disparities in access to critical care services. Kanter GP, Segal AG, Groeneveld PW. A large gap exists in access to ICU beds based on income: 49% of the lowest-income communities had no ICU beds, whereas only 3% of the highest-income communities had no ICU beds. Health Aff (Millwood). 2020 Aug;39(8):1362-1367.

A case for targeting Th17 cells and IL-17A in SARS-CoV-2. Orlov M, Wander PL, Morrell ED, Mikacenic C, Wurfel MM. This review describes evidence linking risk factors for critical illness in COVID-19 with increased Th17 cell activation and IL-17 signaling that may lead to increased likelihood for lung injury and respiratory failure. J Immunol. 2020 Aug 15;205(4):892-898.

AGA Institute rapid review of the gastrointestinal and liver manifestations of COVID-19, meta-analysis of international data, and recommendations for the consultative management of patients with COVID-19. Sultan S, Altayar O, Siddique SM, Davitkov P, Feuerestein JD, Lim JK, Falck-Ytter Y, El-Serag HB; AGA Institute. Gastrointestinal symptoms are associated with COVID-19 in less than 10% of patients. Further studies are needed to standardize GI symptom questionnaires and liver function tests on admission for COVID-19. Gastroenterology. 2020 Jul;159(1):320-334.

Characteristics and quality of US nursing home reporting cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Chatterjee P, Kelly S, Qi M, Warner RM. Rates of failure to meet or allegations of noncompliance with federal requirements were higher in nursing homes that reported COVID-19 cases. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Jul 1;3(7):e2016930.

Decontamination methods for reuse of filtering facepiece respirators. Su-Velez BM, Maxim T, Long JL, St John MA, Holliday MA. UV light, steam, low-dry heat, and commercial sterilization methods with ethylene oxide or vaporized hydrogen peroxide appear to be viable options for successful decontamination of N95 masks. JAMA Otolaryngol Hed Neck Surg. 2020 Jul 2. Online ahead of print.

COVID-19, mast cells, cytokine storm, psychological stress, and neuroinflammation. Kempuraj D, Selvakumar GP, Ahmed ME, Raikwar SP, Thangavel R, Khan A, Zaheer SA, Iver SS, Burton C, James D, Zaheer A. COVID-19 can induce mast cell activation, psychological stress, cytokine storm, and neuroinflammation. Neuroscientist. 2020 Jul 10. Online ahead of print.

Investigation of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 transmission from two patients to health care workers identifies close contact but not airborne transmission events. Bays DJ, Nguyen MH, Cohen SH, Waldman S, Martin CS, Thompson GR, Sandrock C, Tourtellotte J, Pugashetti JV, Phan C, Nguyen HH, Warner GY, Penn BH. At least in a health care setting, a majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is likely to take place during close contact with infected patients through respiratory droplets, rather than by long-distance airborne transmission. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 Jul 3:1-22.

Use of baricitinib in patients with moderate and severe COVID-19. Titanji BK, Farley MM, Mehta A, Connor-Schuler R, Moanna A, Cribbs SK, O’Shea J, DeSilva K, Chan B, Edwards A, Gavegnano C, Schinazi RF, Marconi VC. In a small uncontrolled cohort of patients with moderate-severe COVID-19, treatment with baricitinib plus hydroxychloroquine was associated with recovery. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Jun 29. Online ahead of print.

Review of viral testing (polymerase chain reaction) and antibody/serology testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 for the intensivist. Motley MP, Bennett-Guerrero, Fries BC, Spitzer ED. This review details the strengths and weaknesses of various testing methods for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Crit Care Explor. 2020 Jun 15;2(6):e0154.

Clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients treated with tocilizumab: An individual patient data systematic review. Antwi-Amoabeng D, Kanji Z, Ford B, Beutler BD, Riddle MS, Siddiqui F. Following tocilizumab treatment in COVID-19 patients, interleukin-6 levels elevate and C-reactive protein levels dramatically decrease, suggestion an improvement in the hyperinflammatory state. J Med Virol. 2020 May 21. Online ahead of print.

Differences in race and other state-level characteristics and associations with mortality from COVID-19 infection. Sehra ST, Fundin S, Lavery C, Baker JF. States with a greater proportion of African American residents report a higher death rate from COVID-19 despite adjusting for case rates and state-level factors. J Med Virol. 2020 May 30. Online ahead of print.

Survival after in-hospital cardiac arrest in critically ill patients: Implication for Covid-19 outbreak? Girotra S, Tang Y, Chan PS, Nallamothu BK. In a cohort of critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation, survival outcomes following in-hospital resuscitation were not uniformly poor. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2020 Jul;13(7):e006837.

AGA Institute rapid review of the GI and liver manifestations of COVID-19, meta-analysis of international data, and recommendations for the consultative management of patients with COVID-19. Sultan S, Altayar O, Siddique SM, Davitkoy P, Feuerstein JD, Lim JK, Falck-Ytter Y, El-Serag HB. Gastrointestinal symptoms are associated with COVID-19 in less than 10% of patients. Further studies are needed with standardized GI symptoms questionnaires. Gastroenterology. 2020 Jul;159(1):320-334.

Systematic review and meta-analysis on the value of chest CT in the diagnosis of coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Sol Scientiae, Illustra Nos. Adams HJA, Kwee TC, Yakar D, Hope MD, Kwee RM. Chest CT scans have relatively high sensitivity to infections in patients with COVID-19 symptoms, but studies on the testing suffer from quality issues. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2020 Jun 1;1-9. Online ahead of print.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the context of COVID-19. Shukla AM, Archibald LK, Shukla AW, Mehta HJ, Cherabuddi K. Pending the availability of confirmatory studies, the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 should be viewed as experimental at this stage, and it should adhere to local, regional, or national ethics and research guidelines. Drugs Context. 2020 Apr 28;9:2020-4-5.

Other Research

Emergency physicians and personal narratives improve the perceived effectiveness of COVID-19 public health recommendations on social media: A randomized experiment. Solnick RE, Chao G, Ross RD, Kraft-Todd GT, Kocher KE. Emergency physicians sharing personal narratives on Twitter are perceived to be more effective at communicating COVID-19 health recommendations compared to federal officials sharing impersonal guidance. Acad Emerg Med. 2021 Feb;28(2):172-183.

Psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline health care workers during the pandemic surge in New York City. Feingold JH, Peccoralo L, Chan CC, Kaplan CA, Kaye-Kauderer H, Charney D, Verity J, Hurtado A, Burka L, Syed SA, Murrough JW, Feder A, Pietrzak RH, Ripp J. Out of more than 3,000 health care workers surveyed, 39% experienced symptoms of COVID-19-related PTSD, major depressive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder. Chronic Stress (Thousand Oaks). 2021 Feb 1;5.

Patient volume and disposition in a VA psychiatric emergency room during COVID-19. Mitchell L, Fuehrlein B. A decline in psychiatric emergency room use likely indicates that many Veterans postponed necessary mental health and substance use treatment because of the pandemic. Community Ment Health J. 2021 Jan 30:1-3.

Feasibility and acceptability of VA CONNECT: Caring for our nation’s needs electronically during the COVID-19 transition. Gromatsky M, Sullivan SR, Mitchell EL, Spears AP, Edwards ER, Goodman M. Preliminary assessment of VA CONNECT, a telehealth group intervention for mental health, supports its feasibility and acceptability by VA patients. Psychiatry Res. 2021 Feb;296:11370.

Social isolation and loneliness among San Francisco Bay area older adults during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. Kotwal AA, Holt-Lunstrad J, Newmark RL, Cenzer I, Smith AK, Covinsky KE, Escueta DP, Lee JM, Perissinotto CM. Many older adults are adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions since the start of shelter-in-place orders. Additional steps are critically needed to address the psychological suffering and unmet medical needs of those with persistent loneliness or barriers to technology-based interactions. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021 Jan;69(1):20-29.


Longitudinal examination of COVID-19 public health measures on mental health for rural patients with serious mental illness. Riblet NB, Stevens SP, Shiner B, Cornelius S, Forehand J, Scott RC, Watts BV. Rural patients with serious mental illness may be fairly resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic when they have access to treatment and supports. Mil Med. 2020 Dec 30. Online ahead of print.

Emergency physicians and personal narratives improve the perceived effectiveness of COVID-19 public health recommendations on social media: A randomized experiment. Solnick RE, Chao G, Ross R, Kraft-Todd GT, Kocher KE. Personal messages from a physician were the most effective means of disseminating COVID-19 information on social media. Acad Emerg Med. 2020 Dec 2. Online ahead of print.

Suddenly becoming a “virtual doctor”: Experiences of psychiatrists transitioning to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uscher-Pines L, Sousa J, Raja P, Mehrotra A, Barnett ML, Huskamp HA. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a dramatic shift in how psychiatrists deliver care. Psychiatr Serv. 2020 Nov 1;71(11):1143-1150.

“At home, with care”: Lessons from New York City home-based primary care practices managing COVID-19. Franzosa E, Gorbenko K, Brody AA, Leff B, Ritchie CS, Kinosian B, Ornstein KA, Federman AD. Keeping older, medically complex patients safe in their homes requires considerable flexibility, transparency, teamwork, and partnerships with outside providers. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2020 Nov 12. Online ahead of print.

Successful transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunity using convalescent plasma in an MM patient with hypogammaglobulinemia and COVID-19. Luetkens T, Metcalf R Planelles V, Zheng Y, Larragoite ET, Spivak ES, Spivak AM, Steinbach M, Blaylock RC, Avila SV, Hankey KG, Martins TB, Slev PR, Mannuel HD, Sajadi M, Rapoport AP, Atanackovic D. A severely immunocompromised patient with multiple myeloma and COVID-19 who received a convalescent plasma product showed SARS-CoV-2 clearance. Convalescent plasma immunity against SARS-Co-V-2 proteins was successfully transferred to the patient. Blood Adv. 2020 Oct 12;4(19):4864-4868.

A rapid mobilization of ‘virtual’ primary care services in response to COVID-19 at Veterans Health Administration. Reddy A, Gunnink E, Deeds SA, Hagan SL, Heyworth L, Mattras TF, Nelson KM. VHA has rapidly expanded virtual health care visits in response to COVID-19, primarily by accelerating use of telephone visits. Healthc (Amst). 2020 Dec; 8(4):100464.

Modeling suicide risk among parents during the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychological inflexibility exacerbates the impact of COVID-19 stressors on interpersonal risk factors for suicide. Crasta D, Daks JS, Rogge RD. The findings highlight the value of targeting psychological inflexibility as an important strategy to reduce suicide risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Contextual Behav Sci. 2020 Sep 8. Online ahead of print.

Suddenly becoming a ‘virtual doctor’: Experiences of psychiatrists transitioning to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uscher-Pines L, Sousa J, Raja P, Mehrotra A, Barnett ML, Huskamp HA. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a dramatic shift in how psychiatrists deliver care. Although there are some concerns about quality of care, the transition has been largely positive for both patients and physicians. Psychiatr Serv. 2020 Sep 16. Online ahead of print.

Assessing COVID-19 transmission to healthcare personnel: The global ACT-HCP case-control study. Lentz RJ, Colt H, Chen H, Cordovilla R, Popevic S, Tahura S, Candoli P, Tomassetti S, Meachery GJ, Cohen BP, Harris BD, Talbot TR, Maldonado F. COVID-10 transmission to health care providers was associated with medical exposures currently considered lower-risk and exposures outside work. Exposures associated with proper use of appropriate personal protective equipment were protective. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 Sep 9;1-22.

The impact of COVID-19 on access to Parkinson’s disease medication. Cheong JL, Goh ZH, Marras C, Tanner CM, Kasten M, Noice AJ. Access to Parkinson’s diseases medication is likely to have been affected by COVID-19 and result in deterioration of patients’ symptomatic control. Move Disord. 2020 Aug 28. Online ahead of print.

The COVID-19 telepsychology revolution: A national study of pandemic-based changes in U.S. mental health care delivery. Pierce BS, Perrin PB, Tyler CM, McKee GB, Watson JD. Although there has been a remarkable increase in telepsychology use during the COVID-19  pandemic, individual and practice characteristics affect psychologists’ ability to adopt telepsychology. Am Psychol. 2020 Aug 20. Online ahead of print.

When to rule out COVID-19: How many negative RT-PCR tests are needed? Isikbay M, Henry TS, Frank JA, Hope MD. This case study presents a framework for how to weigh repeatedly negative test results in clinical decision-making when there is ongoing concern for COVID-19. Respir Med Care Rep. 2020 Aug 18. Online ahead of print.

A SARS-CoV-2 prediction model from standard laboratory tests. Bayat V, Phelps S, Ryono R, Lee C, Parekh H, Mewton J, Sedghi F, Etminani P, Holodniy M. A machine-learning model was able to predict the results of SARS-CoV-2 tests with 86% accuracy from standard laboratory results. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Aug 12. Online ahead of print.

A model for treating COVID-19-related guilt, shame, and moral injury. Haller M, Norman SB, Davis BC, Capone C, Browne K, Allard CB. Trauma-informed guilt reduction therapy is a brief intervention that helps people accurately appraise their role in a stressful event, such as those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and find positive ways to express important values going forward. Psychol Trauma. 2020 Aug;12(S1):S174-S176.

Reinventing palliative care delivery in the era of COVID-19: How telemedicine can support end of life care. Ritchey KC, Foy A, McArdel E, Gruenewald DA. The work identified the need for system innovation in palliative care and a quality improvement approach to structure telemedicine palliative care. Information gleaned from a patient’s family in a case study helped bedside staff to tailor care toward aspects meaningful to the patient. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2020 Nov;37(11):992-997.

Is increased sleep responsible for reductions in myocardial infarction during the COVID-19 pandemic? Advani I, Gunge D, Banks S, Mehta S, Park K, Patel M, Malhotra A, Crotty Alexander LE. Changes in subjects’ sleep patterns due to the pandemic led to longer sleep duration, which may impact the rates of heart attack. PLoS One. 2020 Jul 27;15(7):e0236554.

Automated EHR score to predict COVID-19 outcomes at US Department of Veterans Affairs. Osborne TF, Veigulis ZP, Arreola DM, Röösli E, Curtin CM. VA’s Care Assessment Need (CAN) score, an existing risk assessment tool, is well-positioned for broad use across the VA to enhance clinical decision-making about COVID-19. PLoS One. 2020 Jul 27;15(7):e0236554.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) catheterization laboratory survey. Banerjee S, Tarantini G, Abu-Fadel M, Banerjee A, Little BB, Sorajja P, Shishehbor MH, Brilakis ES. Invasive heart procedure rates have reduced significantly. There is near universal adoption of personal protective equipment; however, COVID-19 pretesting and access to N95 masks is suboptimal. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Aug 4;9(15):e017175.

National geriatric network rapidly addresses trainee telehealth needs in response to COVID-19. Nearing KA, Lum HD, Dang S, Powers B, McLaren J, Gately M, Hung W, Moo L. The Veterans Health Administration rapidly identified and responded to telehealth training needs of geriatrics trainees to optimize care for rural older adults as part of a rapid response to COVID-19. J AM Geriatr Soc. 2020 Jul 8. Online ahead of print.

Combating heightened social isolation of nursing home elders: The Telephone Outreach in the COVID-19 Outbreak program. Van Dyck LI, Wilkins KM, Ouellet J, Ouellet GM, Conroy ML. A telephone outreach program achieved initial success and promotes the social well-being of nursing home residents. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020 Jun 5;S1064-7481(20)30365-1.

Establishment of a COVID-19 recovery unit in a Veterans Affairs post-acute facility. Sohn L, Lysaght M, Schwartzman WA, Simon SR, Goetz MB, Yoshikawa T. Researchers report on a novel approach of utilizing long-term care beds at a VA health care facility for managing recovering COVID-19 patients. J AM Geriatr Soc. 2020 Jun 18. Online ahead of print.

Global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on endoscopy: An international survey of 252 centers from 55 countries. Parasa S, Reddy N, Faigel DO, Repici A, Emura F, Sharma P. A substantial reduction in endoscopy procedures has been noted globally in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gastroenterology. 2020 June 11. Online ahead of print.

Veterans’ response to an automated text messaging protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic. Saleem JJ, Read JM, Loehr BM, Frisbee KL, Wilck NR, Murphy JJ, Vetter BM, Herout J. Veterans responded well to automated text messaging about COVID-19 from the VA app “Annie.” J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2020 May 29. Online ahead of print.


An issue of trust—Vaccinating Black patients against COVID-19. Okorodudu DO, Okorodudu DE. Trust needs to be built through transparency and partnership to further COVID-19 vaccination in the Black community and other vulnerable populations. Lancel Respir Med. 2021 Jan 19. Online ahead of print.

Does universal testing for COVID-19 work for everyone? Dumyati G, Gaur S, Nace DA, Jump RLP. The authors propose a structured approach for facility-wide testing of nursing home residents and staff. J AM Med Dir Assoc. 2020 Nov;21(11):1525-1532.

No community left behind A call to action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sullivan SR, Bell KA, Spears AP, Mitchell EL, Goodman M. This open forum attempts to answer two questions: What are the specific considerations in working with economically compromised Hispanic/Latino and Black/African American populations with mental illness? How can mental health providers and researchers best help with mental health problems related to pandemic stress? Psychiatr Serv. 2020 Oct 27. Online ahead of print.

Implementation of infection control measures to prevent healthcare-associated transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Lepak AJ, Shirley DK, Buys A, Stevens L, Safdar N. Adoption of the infection control bundle described may be helpful to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread within health care institutions. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 Oct 12:1-13.

Aging veterans’ mental health and well-being in the context of COVID-19: The importance of social ties during physical distancing. Marini CM, Pless Kaiser A, Smith BN, Fiori KL. During the COVID-19 pandemic, aging Veterans may benefit from having an array of socially supportive network ties. Psychol Trauma. 2020 Aug;12(S1):S217-S219.


Financial strain and risk of suicide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elbogen EB, Lanier M, Montgomery AE, Strickland S, Wagner HR, Tsai J. The current pandemic and the financial strains it causes foreshadow a spike in suicide in upcoming months and years. Am J Epidemiol. 2020 Jul 22. Online ahead of print.

Aging veterans’ mental health and well-being in the context of COVID-19: The importance of social ties during physical distancing. Marini CM, Pless Kaiser A, Smith BN, Fiori KL. During the COVID-19 pandemic, aging Veterans may benefit from having an array of socially supportive network ties. Psychol Trauma. 2020 Aug;12(S1):S217-S219.

Mental health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Black Americans: Clinical and research recommendations. Novacek DM, Hampton-Anderson JN, Ebor MT, Loeb TB, Wyatt GE. Race-conscious and culturally competent interventions that consider factors such as discrimination, distrust of health care providers, and historical and racial trauma as well as protective factors including social support and culturally sanctioned coping strategies are needed. Psychol Trauma. 2020 Jul;12(5):449-451.

Mental health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Black Americans: Clinical and research recommendations. Novacek DM, Hampton-Anderson JN, Ebor MT, Loeb TB, Wyatt GE. Race-conscious and culturally competent interventions that consider factors such as discrimination, distrust of health care providers, and historical and racial trauma as well as protective factors including social support and culturally sanctioned coping strategies are needed. Psychol Trauma. 2020 Jul;12(5):449-451.

Toward nanotechnology-enabled approaches against the COVID-19 pandemic. Weiss C, Carriere M, Fusco L, Capua I, Regla-Nava JA, Pasquali M, Scott JA, Vitale F, Unal MA, Matteyi C, Bedognetti D, Tascotti E, Yilmazer A, Gogotsi Y, Stellacci F, Delogu LG. Nanotechnology is critical in counteracting COVID-19 and will be vital when preparing for future pandemics. ACS Nano. 2020 June 23;14(6):6383-6406.

Potential novel role of COVID-19 in Alzheimer’s disease and preventative mitigation strategies. Naughton SX, Raval U, Pasinetti GM. J Genetic and socioeconomic factors influencing the rates of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and COVID-19 severity may create an exceptionally high-risk profile for certain demographics. Alzheimers Dis. 2020;76(1):21-25.

Challenges in the interpretation and application of typical imaging features of COVID-19. Hammer MM, Raptis CA, Henry TS, Shah A, Bhalla S, Hope MD. CT remains a powerful diagnostic tool in the context of COVID-19 and should be used to trouble-shoot problematic cases. Lancet Respir Med. 2020 Jun;8(6):534-536.

Mitigating the effects of a pandemic: Facilitating improved nursing home care deliver through technology. Edelman LS, McConnell E, Kennerly SM, Alderden J, Horn SD, Yap TL. Investing in and adapting technology can help mitigate workforce stress and improve the quality of nursing home care during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. JMIR Nursing. 2020 May 26;3(1):e20110.

Flattening the curve by getting ahead of it: How the VA healthcare system is leveraging telehealth to provide continued access to care for rural Veterans. Myers US, Birks A, Grubaugh AL, Axon RN. The rapid expansion of telehealth in response to COVID-19 within VHA and subsequent refinements to the system can be used to more immediately improve the health and well-being of Veterans facing ongoing access to care barriers, such as those residing in rural areas. J Rural Health. 2020 Apr 13;10. Online ahead of print.

Preventing suicide in rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Monteith LL, Holliday R, Brown TL, Brenner LA, Mohatt NV. Individuals in rural communities may be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring that rural communities are adequately equipped to prevent suicide while managing the spread and impact of COVID-19 is critical. J Rural Health. 2020 Apr 13;10. Online ahead of print.

Infectious disease specialist consultation improves long-term <em>S. aureus</em> outcomes - Photo: ©iStock/South_agencyPhoto: ©iStock/South_agency

To rapidly stand up new research and optimize resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA Office of Research and Development (ORD) has coordinated with the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, other federal agencies, and several industry partners—namely, pharmaceutical companies. Further, as part of the larger Veterans Health Administration system, ORD has supported other VHA offices by providing research expertise and personnel to assist with public health and informational demands.

Prior to the pandemic, ORD had been pursuing three strategic priorities: enhancing Veteran access to clinical trials; putting VA data to work for Veterans; and increasing the real-world impact of VA research. These priorities continue to guide ORD’s efforts and have positioned the program to quickly respond to COVID-19 through the creation and expansion of research partnerships; optimization of resource allocation; and streamlining and modernization of  processes and policies. Part of this effort has involved creating new ways to rapidly support VA investigators eligible for VA research funding, and quickly evaluating research ideas proposed by VA scientists.

Contributing to understanding COVID-19 and potential treatments

ORD is engaged in a wide array of research activities on COVID-19, with the support and cooperation of many internal VA and external partners. These activities encompass a range of studies, as well as innovative approaches to planning, coordinating, and expediting research:

  • Working with industry partners to include VA sites in clinical trials for new treatments. In one case, through a coordinated effort, VA was able to get a trial started in under a week—a dramatic reduction over the usual timeframe.

  • Coordinating with other federal agencies on national-scale studies on understanding the natural history of and treatments for COVID-19 or specimen collections from patients with COVID-19, to aid in vaccine and therapeutics development.

  • Facilitating expanded access (a.k.a. compassionate use) of investigational medications pending FDA approval. Efforts have included establishing a regulatory and pharmaceutical support team consisting of more than 80 VA research field staff for helping facilities obtain approvals for use of these medications.

  • Creating opportunities to rapidly fund VA investigators with meritorious research proposals on COVID-19.

  • Quickly evaluating research ideas proposed by VA scientists, in large part through a steering committee composed of leading VA experts in virology, infectious disease, and epidemiology.

  • Using data and informatics expertise to create common elements for harmonizing research and examining off-label use of approved medications.

  • Rapidly synthesizing evidence from the available scientific literature, and translating this evidence into usable guidance for clinicians in VA and beyond.

  • Coordinating the establishment of a central VA COVID-19 registry and biorepository.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of research personnel and study participants

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, reduce exposures among both research staff and patients, and decrease the burden on the health care system, ORD instituted an administrative hold that stopped non-critical, in-person research contacts for all VA-funded research. (Some of this activity has begun to resume as of June, depending on local conditions.) Additional guidance was issued to ensure the safety and protection of all those involved in research. To ensure communication and understanding, ORD has developed a common communication platform for providing written guidance and sharing resources and tools, issued FAQs for field staff, and conducted a series of informational webinars for VA research personnel.

Enabling continuity of operations

As protective measures were implemented for personnel, ORD recognized the importance of continuing research when possible, given the public investments made to date. In this context, regulatory guidance was issued on options and requirements for conducting research through alternative methods. Additionally, ORD worked with the VA Office of Information Technology to issue guidance on the use of communication technologies for research purposes. A field operations workgroup was also set up to examine ongoing research challenges and to develop more uniform guidance for all research programs.

Questions about the R&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.