Priorities for COVID-19 Research Response and Preparedness in Low-resource Settings

COVID-19 poses particular threats in low-resource settings, which typically have underfunded health-care systems and insufficient influence on the global health research agenda.

Strengthening research capacity must be embedded in research funding across LMICs to support the COVID-19 response now and to prepare to manage future infectious disease threats effectively. Such programmes need to be informed by local contexts and be driven by regionally and nationally identified priorities. Lessons learned in LMICs have global relevance and require global attention.

Increased research coordination is needed to improve the coherence of the research response affecting LMICs.

Source: Priorities for COVID-19 Research Response and Preparedness in Low-resource Settings

    Can Technology Increase COVID-19 Vaccination Rates?

    The WHO Digital Health Flagship initiative has stated that digital technology could play a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic by improving communications between people and health services, empowering individuals and patients, and strengthening critical public health functions including disease surveillance. The authors of this article ask whether technology also help build trust and promote vaccination within communities that are most at risk.

    Source: Can Technology Increase COVID-19 Vaccination Rates?

      Innoculating against COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

      The authors of this article state that confronting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation necessitates pre-emptive action to “immunize the public against misinformation”—a process that draws on the concept of psychological inoculation.

      Source: Innoculating against COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

        COVID-19 and Homelessness: When Crises Intersect

        In this study the authors present the findings of a large-scale serosurvey of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among people experiencing homelessness and precarious housing in the greater Paris region. More than half of those sampled had SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibodies, reflecting a substantially higher burden of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection than that seen in the general population.

        Source: COVID-19 and Homelessness: When Crises Intersect

          Early Estimates of the COVID-19 Impact on Maternal and Child Health

          While the COVID-19 pandemic will increase mortality due to the virus, it is also likely to increase mortality indirectly. In this study, the authors estimate the additional maternal and under-5 child deaths resulting from the potential disruption of health systems and decreased access to food.

          The results of the study show that if routine health care is disrupted and access to food is decreased (as a result of unavoidable shocks, health system collapse, or intentional choices made in responding to the pandemic), the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating. The authors hope these numbers add context as policy makers establish guidelines and allocate resources in the days and months to come.

          Source: Early Estimates of the COVID-19 Impact on Maternal and Child Health

            COVID-19, Comics, and the Visual Culture of Contagion

            One cultural response to the disruption and uncertainty during an infectious disease outbreak is the construction of what is sometimes called the “outbreak narrative”, a formulaic plot that serves to shape our collective understanding of a pandemic.

            This narrative traces the emergence and spread of a novel pathogen and the scientific, social, and political responses to the outbreak. In doing so, the outbreak narrative emphasises the breakdown of boundaries, the sites of infection, the social interactions that are disrupted and enacted, and the efforts of science to contain the spread and find a cure. In our increasingly visual society, images are a vital component of the outbreak narrative and more broadly contribute to the visual culture of contagion.

            Comics, as both a visual medium and cultural product, are important contributions to the visual culture of the COVID-19 pandemic.

            Source: COVID-19, Comics, and the Visual Culture of Contagion

              Providing Maternal Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nepal

              By the beginning of 2020, Nepal had reached a tipping point with over 60% of births occurring in a health facility—a three times increase from just 18% in 2006.

              National lockdown happened very early in Nepal, on March 21, 2020, well before any community spread of COVID-19. The lockdown took the form of severe restrictions on transport and closure of outpatient departments of many hospitals.

              In this article, the authors compare intrapartum care before and during the lockdown period in Nepal. The number of institutional births decreased by 52·4% during the first 2 months of lockdown, and women in relatively disadvantaged ethnic groups were found to be affected more than those in more advantaged groups, indicating a widening equity gap due to COVID-19. They also found that quality of care in the hospitals was compromised compared with before lockdown.

              Source: Providing Maternal Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nepal

                Vaccine Confidence: A Global Analysis Exploring Volatility, Polarization, and Trust

                This study reports that there is growing evidence of vaccine delays or refusals due to a lack of trust in the importance, safety, or effectiveness of vaccines, alongside persisting access issues. Although immunization coverage is reported administratively across the world, no similarly robust monitoring system exists for vaccine confidence. In this study, vaccine confidence was mapped across 149 countries between 2015 and 2019.

                The study’s findings highlight the importance of regular monitoring to detect emerging trends to prompt interventions to build and sustain vaccine confidence.

                Source: Vaccine Confidence: A Global Analysis Exploring Volatility, Polarization, and Trust

                  COVID-19 Care in India: The Course to Self-Reliance

                  The public health response to COVID-19 in India has been highly centralized, resulting in a homogenous strategy applied across a sixth of the world’s population.

                  India was placed in a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020, with restrictions being relaxed in three phases since June. In May 2020, the prime minister called upon the Indian people to be self-reliant. The authors discuss opportunities to modify several aspects of the medical response to echo this sentiment.

                  They conclude that what is still needed is a plethora of low-tech solutions (especially facial coverings), adherence to science, and societal participation in caring for vulnerable people.

                  Source: COVID-19 Care in India: The Course to Self-Reliance

                    Comprehensive Sexuality Education to Address Gender-based Violence

                    The COVID-19 pandemic has unmasked underlying inequities. Measures such as lockdown and physical distancing have confined many people to isolated, unsafe places that may increase risk of gender-based violence (GBV).

                    f lockdowns or restricted movement continue for just a year, it is estimated there will be 61 million more cases of GBV than what would have already been expected In response to this increase, UN Women launched the Shadow Pandemic public awareness campaign in May, 2020.2 Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General has called for countries to include GBV prevention as a component of COVID-19 recovery plans.

                    UN Women emphasises vital national responses to address violence against women and girls (VAWG) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and these responses could serve as useful entry points for comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) provision in the Arab region. VAWG regional responses include provision of shelters, telephone hotlines, and online counselling; strong messaging from law enforcement that violence against women and girls (VAWG) cases are high priority; and psychological support for women and girls, GBV survivors, and front-line health workers affected by both the COVID-19 and shadow pandemics.

                    Source: Comprehensive Sexuality Education to Address Gender-based Violence