Many businesses are still struggling with the numerous repercussions that the COVID-19 epidemic has yet to have on supply chains more than two years after it first broke out. From March 2020, when protective capabilities were extremely limited, to September 2022, when they are at their most advanced, significant technology improvements were made necessary by the catastrophic virus to survive some of the worst days in recent memory.
The COVID-19 virus made it necessary to implement telehealth, a rarely used development. Due to the overcrowding in hospitals, the closure of elective operation centres, and the widespread lockdown, video conversations and phone talks with healthcare providers have become the only safe means of communication. Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, UPMC Anywhere Care reported between 75 and 100 virtual urgent care patient visits daily. But as soon as the public health emergency started, visitation went up to 400 patients daily.
Telehealth technology quickly gained popularity as a way to assess and diagnose COVID-19 symptoms in patients, lower exposure risk by conducting virtual primary care appointments, and provide remote monitoring for patients with chronic illnesses. There was scant and hazy payment for these services when this virtual takeover started. Prior to the pandemic, Medicare would only cover telehealth services if a patient visited to a healthcare institution like a hospital or clinic to receive remote care and resided in what they categorised as a rural location. Furthermore, these visits were only partially reimbursed compared to in-person encounters. Few healthcare professionals were encouraged to offer the service as a result of this.
When the COVID-19 public health emergency was announced in 2020, everything changed. Medicare used its 1135 waiver authority to make changes to the rules, including paying for telehealth visits that take place in the patient’s home, expanding reimbursement for remote patient monitoring, and paying for care delivered by a wider range of professionals (such as nurse practitioners and psychologists) in more settings (such as emergency departments, rehabilitation centres, hospices, and skilled nursing facilities). In most situations, co-pays were waived, and the compensation for telehealth appointments was altered to be the same as for in-person consultations.
The licence requirements were altered in addition to the previously listed adjustments. States had laws requiring clinicians to hold a licence in the state where the patient resided and received care prior to the epidemic. This was reversed in all 50 states, enabling medical professionals to consult with patients from different states. In order to allow for e-visits using Facetime, Skype, and Zoom during the height of the epidemic, 2-way HIPAA-compliant audio-visual software platforms were exempted. After two years, a growing number of medical professionals are utilising HIPAA-compliant platforms due to their increased accessibility.
Telehealth is still a well-liked substitute for in-person visits and appears to be here to stay at this time.
2. mRNA Vaccines
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists had been researching and developing messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for many years. The method was developed by Katalin Karikó, PhD, and Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2005, they presented ground-breaking research that described how mRNA could be modified for therapeutic use and how it could be transported into the body to hit the right target. But nobody at the time paid any attention to the discovery.
Their discovery would come to the fore 15 years later as a potential weapon against the COVID-19 virus. The Penn technology was licenced to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and it was utilised in both of the COVID-19 vaccines produced by the latter business, of which hundreds of millions have been given. In December 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine became the first COVID-19 vaccine to acquire full FDA approval for use in individuals 16 and older and the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The vaccine developed by Moderna, which utilised the same altered mRNA technique developed by Karikó and Weissman, received approval in December 2020 as well. Currently, both vaccines are approved for people 6 months and up for the primary series, with those 5 years and older having differing booster options based on which mRNA vaccine they received.
3. Monoclonal Antibody (mAb) Treatment
Your body produces antibodies spontaneously to fight illnesses. Your body might not, however, have the necessary antibodies to identify a novel or new infection. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was an example of this. One of the several therapeutic methods used to combat COVID-19 is monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy. The COVID-19 virus can be prevented from infecting body cells by the mAb therapy, also known as bebtelovimab, and its presence in the body can be reduced. Milder symptoms and a lower risk of hospital stays can result from this. mAbs are directly supplied via IV infusion or injection and are created in a lab to combat a particular illness, in this case COVD-19. Contrary to the vaccine, which boosts the body’s defences naturally, it may take weeks for the body to produce enough antibodies to fight the virus. The body receives the antibodies it needs during mAb therapy to defend itself.
4. COVID-19 Testing/At-Home Testing
the COVID-19 test When the epidemic first began, there were lengthy car lines outside of hospitals and testing facilities, nurses wearing full protective equipment, and patients had to wait hours for a large Q-tip to be shoved up their noses to the point that they thought it would tickle their brains. After the sample was collected, it took several days to receive the results. If you were even eligible to take a test in the first place since there were so few available. Since then, wait times, accessibility, and test-taking comfort have all increased. COVID-19 tests come in two flavours: diagnostic and antibody.
If someone is currently infected with the COVID-19 virus, a diagnostic test can reveal this. There are two types of diagnostic testing: antigen tests, sometimes known as fast tests, and molecular tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. These tests can be carried out in a lab, standalone testing locations, a doctor’s office, a health clinic, or even at home. Typically, they are collected using an anterior nares (nasal) swab sample. You can receive results for several of these diagnostic tests 30 minutes after obtaining the sample.
A test for antibodies or serology checks for the antibodies your body creates in response to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood. These tests shouldn’t be used to identify an infection or immunity that is already present. A doctor or other healthcare provider will normally draw blood from a finger stick or vein to use as a sample for an antibody test.
The availability of diagnostic tests has improved throughout time. In contrast to the early stages of the pandemic, when it was exceedingly challenging to get tested for the virus, it is now simple to obtain an at-home testing kit by visiting the majority of pharmacies. Additionally, many people already have a backup COVID-19 test in a closet, ready just in case, thanks to the numerous free diagnostic test distribution programmes.