“As long-time epidemiologists and infectious disease experts, a few main takeaways have become increasingly apparent as to how the global health community can better prepare."
SAN FRANCISCO (PRWEB) July 14, 2020
With more than three million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and nearly thirteen million worldwide, the global pandemic has slowed but not stalled. As the healthcare community prepares for the long fight, the Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems (LRC), provider of research-based solutions that drive scientific, commercial and social breakthroughs, is releasing insights based on what we’ve learned from the outbreak so far and how the world can prepare for what’s next.
“We’re learning something new every day as it relates to COVID-19, but we’re also seeing what works and what is lacking when it comes to managing emerging health threats,” said Dr. Shailesh Date, founder and CEO of LRC Systems and Associate Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF. “As long-time epidemiologists and infectious disease experts, a few main takeaways have become increasingly apparent as to how the global health community can better prepare. In the spirit of these takeaways, we feel it is our duty to share our insights with the world.”
Make mitigation standards uniform: It is imperative that the global health community develop and maintain uniform protocols for tracking and tackling pathogens. With a common, more streamlined approach in place, path and treatment options will be more clear and thus, disease spread can be better understood and mitigated.
Leverage dual surveillance: To address the complexities of evolving pathogens, both active and passive surveillance is vital. With active surveillance, data is collected for a specific gain, i.e. “how is COVID spreading.” With passive surveillance, there are systems in place that continually gather data, helping build a foundation for response. It is important to combine both approaches: while active surveillance is the most commonly used approach for epidemics, passive surveillance is what allows people like scholars and policymakers to understand long-term trends so that changes can be made to public policies.
Collaborate globally: With COVID-19, widespread sharing of information is critical to better understand and slow the spread of the virus. Experts agree that this approach should be the norm (during pandemics and beyond), so that researchers, clinicians and frontline workers are communicating and collecting data on a regular basis. In fact, the World Health Organization recently said that the greatest threat from COVID-19 is not the coronavirus itself but a “lack of global solidarity" in confronting it. To support this approach, LRC is working on a full rollout of Sample.Exchange, a web-based platform that will allow researchers worldwide to share biological samples for a wide variety of projects, including samples related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
With a sharp increase in US cases in recent weeks - with as many as 30,000 to 40,000 new cases being reported daily - and a recent rebound in cases in South Korea and across Europe, concern looms over a second wave of infections following the lifting of lockdowns across the globe.
Here’s what the experts at LRC say are the best ways for the world to prepare:
Manage the socioeconomic impact: A big and important facet of epidemiology and public health is understanding impact beyond just the disease. With an unprecedented 13.3 unemployment rate from nearly 45 million people filing for aid, the next wave has more to do with socioeconomic fallout than the disease itself. The understanding and management of human behavior and interaction will be critical for mitigating disease fallout beyond its spread. Americans, including essential workers, that don't have the means to call in sick or quarantine, will remain vulnerable. As a result, it is critical to track openings and take a slow approach to returning to “life as normal.” The more we can track the communities that don't have the luxury of working from home, the more we can slow the spread and make decisions that support all Americans.
Threat of co-infections: As restrictions are lifted and the country transitions away from social distancing, other diseases are expected to resume transmission as well. A byproduct, and perhaps a silver lining, of decreased contact in the past few months has been that the threat of other viruses and pathogens has also been mitigated. When interactions between people increase, many of these temporarily dormant pathogens will begin circulating again. With the novel nature of COVID-19, it also remains to be seen how co-infections with other pathogens impact patients, treatment options and spread. In order to remain protected, people should continue to distance as much as possible, wear masks, and keep to smaller groups while staying away from places that aren’t adhering to suggested guidelines.
The need for a plan: The biggest challenge with managing the COVID-19 crisis is and remains the absence of a national plan and guidelines that can be moderately tweaked and modified to suit local conditions. It is still not too late; as we look to what’s next, it is critical that we take what we’ve learned to develop a plan and better prepare for what’s ahead--both with COVID-19 and other pathogens that we encounter down the road. This planning needs to be top-down: given our resources, what can we do to best mitigate disease spread? We need this to be initiated by the disease experts at the CDC, so policymakers can take control and issue clear guidelines that are implemented across the country together.
For more information about LRC Systems and its game-changing approach, visit https://www.lrc.systems/.
About LRC Systems
Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems (LRC) develops powerful research-based solutions that drive scientific, commercial and social breakthroughs. Led by a team of trailblazers from industry and academia, LRC uniquely combines advances in natural and quantitative sciences with cutting-edge technology to help solve fundamental health, economic and social problems for public and private organizations. LRC serves as an ideas hub for high-level transdisciplinary research that is bigger, faster and more impactful, to propel innovations that can change the world.