NOT-HD-22-002 Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) - Emerging and Existing Issues of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Research Related to the Health and Well-Being of Women, Children and Individuals with Physical and/or Intellectual Disabilities

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the source of much mortality and morbidity creating and contributing to both physical and mental health issues. Recent data suggest that nearly one million individuals have died from COVID-19 in the United States. However, the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the associated measures to prevent and treat this infection extend well beyond the issue of mortality. Although much needed information regarding the epidemiology, transmission and potential acute treatments including the development of an effective vaccine have been gleaned in unprecedented time, important issues remain to be elucidated including, but not limited to the effect of the virus and its treatment on menstrual health, fertility and the offspring of infected and/or vaccinated parents, the impact of the Delta and Omicron variants and other emerging variants, the occurrence of viral co-infections and the many physical and mental health issues created by the pandemic itself.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, new viral variants have emerged, innovative treatments have been administered, widespread vaccination has been implemented and social practices have changed all creating new knowledge gaps and the need for additional data. Common examples include questions arising around vaccination responses including post-vaccination myocarditis, neurological sequelae, immune responses in vulnerable populations and the occurrence of viral co-infections. Less obvious questions have also been stirred including the impact of the virus and vaccine on vulnerable populations such as women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis. Beyond the viral pathophysiology itself, questions remain to be addressed regarding the overall impact of the pandemic including challenges in maintaining the necessary clinical work force. Although much work has already been directed in assessing the impact of the pandemic on domestic violence, more work remains in the field. Additionally, the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 may have a disproportionate impact on some populations including those with substance use disorders and/or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Because SARS-CoV-2 attacks the lungs, it may be an especially serious threat to those with histories of smoking tobacco or marijuana or of vaping. People who use opioids or methamphetamine may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health and potential effects on immune mechanisms. Moreover, changes in unintentional injury rates during the pandemic warrant further investigation. For example, available data suggest that fatal motor vehicle collision rates are the highest in over a decade despite less overall automobile driving during the pandemic.

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to provide an avenue for researchers to pursue funding to conduct research addressing these and other emerging and existing COVID-related issues among pregnant and lactating people, infants, children and adolescents, and individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The goal of this NOSI is to not replace or compete with the various COVID-related funding opportunities currently available. Instead, the purpose is to complement them by offering a funding opportunity to address key issues in a most timely manner not currently covered by available COVID-related funding announcements among these populations. Research projects addressing issues that are the focus of currently available or future COVID funding opportunity announcements will be encouraged to submit to those announcements. Also, applicants responding to this NOSI are strongly encouraged to describe plans for the rapid sharing of data and results as well as innovative data analytics approaches. The sharing of COVID-related data and resources and effective communication of results are a high priority of the NIH