Nearly 400 experts from different disciplines of more than 100 countries in the world warn that, despite the fact that some governments have turned the page of the pandemic, they are still needed specific efforts and resources to save covid-19 lives. In a study published Thursday in the journal ‘Nature’, these specialists develop 57 recommendations addressed to governments, health systems, industry and key stakeholders to end covid-19 as public health threat.
Among all the recommendations, three stand out. The first, adopt a “whole-of-society” approach involving multiple disciplines, sectors and actors to avoid fragmentation of efforts. The second, “whole-of-government” actions (e.g., coordination across ministries” to identify and address the resilience of health systems and make them more responsive to people’s needs. The third, maintain a “vaccines plus” strategy, combining vaccination against covid-19 with other economic support, prevention and treatment measures.
More than 180 organizations from 72 countries have already endorsed the findings of this study, which is led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a center promoted by the La Caixa Foundation. What makes this work “unique” is precisely this large number of experts consulted and the wide geographical representation.
Balance of covid-19
As of October 2022, the following have been recorded more than 630 million cases of covid-19 and more than 6.5 million deaths (although the actual number of deaths has been estimated at more than 20 million). In addition, millions of patients with cancer and chronic diseases have suffered dangerous delays in medical care, and the persistent covid (o ‘long covid’, in English literature) follows without definitive treatment, which poses a constant threat to survivors. On the other hand, the virus also continues to accumulate mutations that may enhance its ability to evade prior immunity. Thus, covid-19 continues to be an important dangerous global health threat.
“Each country has responded differently, and often inadequately, which is partly due to a considerable lack of coordination and clear objectives.” states Jeffrey V Lazarus, head of the Health Systems research group and co-director of the Bacterial and Viral Infections Program at ISGlobal.
To reach a global consensus on how to address these issues in the future, Lazarus and his colleagues conducted a Delphi study (a well-established research methodology that prompts experts to obtain consensus on answers to complex research questions). A multidisciplinary panel of 386 expert persons. from different backgrounds participated in three rounds of structured consultations. The result is a set of 41 statements and 57 recommendations in six main areas: communication, health systems, immunization, prevention, treatment and care, and inequalities.
The experts also prioritized recommendations for develop technologies (vaccines, therapies and services) that can reach target populations. Other recommendations that reached a 99% or greater agreement were: communicating effectively with the public, regaining public trust, and encouraging community involvement in managing the pandemic response.
“To the extent possible, our findings emphasize recommendations for health and social policies that can be implemented in months, not yearsto help end this public health threat,” he says. Quique BassatICREA professor at ISGlobal, co-author of the study, and member of the University of Barcelona.