July 2, 2020—As countries around the world begin to lift COVID-19 public health and social measures (PHSMs) such as stay-at-home orders, many are experiencing a concerning rise in case counts and death. Leaving those measures in place, however, has serious social and economic consequences. A new online tool, Public Health and Social Measures Simulator, demonstrates how the timing of different combinations of PHSMs could affect disease spread.
Countries are forced to find the balance between responding swiftly to disease spread while minimizing the negative impact of interventions on individuals and communities,” said Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President, Prevent Epidemics at Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “Our new simulator helps decision-makers assess the timing and the type of measures to turn on and off to reduce people’s risk from COVID-19.”
The simulator, now available on PreventEpidemics.org, allows users to select their region to find results tailored by location. All results demonstrate two critical points:
- Shelter-in-place policies delay a surge in cases and buy time to implement stronger disease control tactics and policies. If that time is not used effectively to implement testing and contact tracing, and to implement other efforts to reduce infection such as wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance, an increase in cases is likely.
- As public health and social measure are lifted, it is critical to scale up testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine to Box In the virus and effectively control transmission.
“As the pandemic accelerates in countries and cities across the world, decisions about how best to reduce transmission while also preventing social and economic disruption are more important than ever,” said Christopher Lee, Senior Technical Advisor at Resolve to Save Lives. “Early action to implement public health and social measures in the COVID-19 pandemic helped curb the spread of COVID-19 in some regions, including Africa, but these measures cause substantial economic and societal strain. Policymakers need flexible tools, informed by the best available data, to allow them to make decisions that affect all of society, and the new simulator can be a useful tool for governments to rely upon.”
The simulator allows governments to anticipate the impact of implementing and releasing different measures, even in the absence of exact epidemiology data, which is often delayed. Users are able to assess the impact of common PHSMs, such as sheltering in place, closing schools, canceling mass gatherings and shielding the elderly, based on how long they are implemented. This tool also illustrates the policy options clearly. Notably, it shows that when testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine activities are effectively scaled up, societies can reopen safely.
Erin Sykes, Resolve to Save Lives: [email protected]; +1.646.612.0001
Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: [email protected]; +1.914.424.3356
About Resolve to Save Lives
Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, is a five-year, $225 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates Philanthropy Partners, which is funded with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. Resolve received additional funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the CDC Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the COVID-19 response. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To find out more, visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL
Resolve to Save Lives created a website called PreventEpidemics.org that shows how prepared each country is for an epidemic. This site is also a resource for current coronavirus statistics and resources.
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in more than 70 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.