WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced their bipartisan, bicameral Ensuring Understanding of COVID-19 to Protect Public Health Act, legislation that would direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a longitudinal study on mild, moderate, and severe cases of COVID-19 to ensure we gain a full understanding of both the short and long-term health impacts of the novel coronavirus. Identical companion legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY).

“COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the world, infecting millions of people in just a few short months. We must diligently study and track patient treatment and intervention outcomes during this critical time,” said Senator Rosen. “Our bipartisan legislation will focus our nation’s efforts toward gaining a better understanding of the short and long-term impacts of the coronavirus on the human body, arming our researchers and medical professionals with the most accurate data as they work to find effective treatments and care plans for patients. The bill ensures a diverse set of patients are included, so we understand the impact across a wide range of demographics. My number one priority is to protect the health of Nevadans during this unprecedented time.”

“As our nation continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that our health care experts at the NIH conduct a comprehensive study to help guide physicians caring for patients with COVID-19,” said Senator Rubio. “There are still numerous unknowns about COVID-19, including its potential long-term health impacts, and this bipartisan bill provides the NIH with important guidelines to study this virus.”

“More than a million Americans have now tested positive for the coronavirus. While many have recovered, we still don’t know how this unprecedented virus – or new treatment options – may impact their health moving forward. By directing NIH to conduct this longitudinal study, we will better understand the short- and long-term health impacts of this pandemic – and what further steps will be needed to protect the public health,” said Rep. DeGette.

“Since coming to Washington, I have experienced several outbreaks, but nothing quite like COVID-19. Our government and our public health system has learned valuable lessons about what is an effective public health response, but we must have a comprehensive understanding of the disease. Studying the short-term and long-term health impacts of COVID-19 will provide us with more knowledge of the full effects of this virus and inform our future efforts to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases,” said Rep. Burgess.

“There’s still so much we don’t know about COVID-19 and the short and long term impacts of this novel virus on the human body and diverse populations,” said Rep. Eshoo. “This information is essential for health care providers to develop effective, comprehensive treatments for all patients. The National Institutes of Health is uniquely positioned to conduct a nationwide, diverse longitudinal study to provide this critical data, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation to give the NIH the resources to do so.”

“Our country is battling an invisible enemy, and we must ensure we examine all aspects of this terrible virus,” said Rep. Guthrie. “Because COVID-19 is so new to us, we have many unanswered questions on how it affects patients long-term. By understanding the short- and long-term health ramifications of COVID-19, we can work to provide better treatment of this virus. As the Republican leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I was proud to join Senators Rosen and Rubio and Reps. Burgess, DeGette, and Eshoo to introduce the Ensuring Understanding of COVID-19 to Protect Public Health.”

“More research is critical to our understanding of COVID-19’s short- and long-term physical and mental health effects across diverse patient populations. Therefore, AACOM strongly supports Senators Rosen’s and Rubio’s efforts to require a nationwide, longitudinal study led by the NIH and CDC on COVID-19’s full impact. The outcomes of this study will be vital to robustly equip our nation’s health care system to mitigate and combat future pandemics and other public health crises,” said Robert A. Cain, DO, President & Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

“As a nation, we will continue to grapple with the devastating effects of COVID-19, both in the short-term and long-term. We’re beginning to understand some of the short-term health impacts, including negative impacts on mental health, such as exacerbating existing health disparities in vulnerable communities. This bill [Ensuring Understanding of COVID-19 to Protect Public Health Act] will take our understanding a step forward by following a diverse cohort of COVID-19 patients over ten years. We thank Senators Rosen and Rubio for championing a bill that will equip us with the science needed to better inform public health approaches and evidence-based decision making in infectious disease prevention and treatment,” said Dr. Amber Hewitt, Director of Health Equity at Families USA.

“As an organization that represents the academic research and clinical experts who study all facets of aging, we place the highest value on investing in scientific data to address the novel coronavirus.  We thank the Bill sponsors for their foresight,” said James Appleby, CEO of the Gerontological Society of America.

“We are pleased to support the Ensuring Understanding of COVID-19 to Protect Public Health Act. This legislation will ensure we better understand the full health impacts of COVID-19 in all at-risk populations and provide critical information needed to develop appropriate clinical and nonclinical interventions to protect the public’s health,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association.

BACKGROUND: More specifically, the bipartisan Ensuring Understanding of COVID-19 to Protect Public Health Act would direct the NIH to:

  • Conduct a nationwide COVID-19 study of health outcomes and symptoms, including long-term impact on lung function and immune response, and the impact of treatments.
    • The study would include a wide variety of patients, to ensure diversity among race, ethnicity, geography, age, gender, and underlying health conditions; and
    • Monitor mental health outcomes.
  • The goal of the study is to gain a full understanding of both the short-term and long-term health impacts of COVID-19.
  • The findings would be released publicly every 3 months for the first two years, and every 6 months thereafter.

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