More than 600,000 Veterans have now been infected with SARS-CoV-2, and more than 20,000 Veterans have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. It is becoming increasingly clear that a subset of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 go on to experience a variety of long-term adverse health consequences.
The goal of the LTO Study is to understand the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 in the Veteran population. Because the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 are incompletely understood and because many Veterans have a high burden of comorbidity and debility, characterizing the long-term consequences of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in the Veteran population using observational data will require a sophisticated methodologic approach capable of supporting robust causal inference.
The COVID-19 Observational Research Collaboratory -LTO will use a variety of complementary research methodologies to understand the long-term consequences of infection with SARS-CoV-2: (1) We will use an emulated randomized controlled trial design based on VA-wide electronic health record (EHR) data to understand the relationship between viral infection and long-term mortality, health care use, and disease burden, including the development of new diagnoses. Designated infected and comparator groups based on analyses of EHR data will serve as the "backbone" for the other two components of the study described below; (2) We will conduct a prospective longitudinal survey among a stratified randomly sampled infected and comparator groups from the aforementioned EHR cohort in order to obtain information not readily available in health records to gain insight into the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on functional status, care needs and financial consequences (3) To understand the perspectives and experiences of Veterans pertaining to the long-term consequences of COVID-19, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with approximately 45 Veterans infected with SARS-CoV-2 that will be purposively sampled from the EHR cohort, including a subset of those who agree to participate in the survey. Interview recordings and transcripts will be analyzed qualitatively to identify emergent themes. We anticipate that insights gained from qualitative analysis will help to support hypothesis generation and to guide and refine our EHR and survey-based efforts.
In a manuscript under review at the JAMA Family of journals, we document a dramatic increase in the number of COVID re-infections confirmed by PCR among Veterans in December 2021 and January 2022 -- over 4,000 Veterans were confirmed reinfected in that later month.
Provide a more complete and accurate understanding of the causal effects of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in the Veteran population and to provide novel insights on the long-term impact of infections for individual Veterans and for the VA health system.
- Ioannou GN, Ferguson JM, O'Hare AM, Bohnert ASB, Backus LI, Boyko EJ, Osborne TF, Maciejewski ML, Bowling CB, Hynes DM, Iwashyna TJ, Saysana M, Green P, Berry K. Changes in the associations of race and rurality with SARS-CoV-2 infection, mortality, and case fatality in the United States from February 2020 to March 2021: A population-based cohort study. PLoS Medicine. 2021 Oct 1; 18(10):e1003807.
TRL - Applied/Translational
Outcomes - System
None at this time.