COVID-19 Pandemic: New Priorities and Improved Strategies to Flatten the Curve

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. María José Bisonó Belliard, a fourth-year medical student in Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


As we reach the middle of 2021, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues gaining strength and taking lives. After more than one year from the first wave that made most countries implement lockdown and social distancing restrictions, COVID-19 cases continue to increase, but now with new variants and challenges with the delivery and administration of vaccinations. High rates of positive diagnostic tests, overcrowded hospitals, and fatigued medical staff are all consequences of the third wave that different countries are experiencing.

In 2020, although the world faced economic, political, social, and environmental challenges due to the current pandemic, innovative scientific approaches and tools were encouraged to curb disease spread. By understanding these trends and lessons learned during the first COVID-19 waves, national leaders can develop prompt and appropriate calls to action – unique to their countries – to face this current wave. Some unique attributes of countries include different economies, availability of resources, and population size.

For example, the Dominican Republic, a country of 11 million people, with more than two million living in poverty, according to the World Bank, has faced recent changes, such as presidential elections, curfew restrictions due to the pandemic and hospitals at maximum capacity. Implementing actions like increasing availability of hospital beds, community-focused interventions, and the development of a national vaccination plan against COVID-19, contributes to the reduction of infection rates and has helped reach nearly 20% of its population vaccinated in under two months.

To strengthen community health and well-being, health leaders can implement three actions to face this third COVID-19 wave. First, they should promote the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendations – like mask reinforcement, strict lockdowns when necessary, social distancing, proper hand hygiene practices – for all citizens1. Second, primary care physicians can strengthen links between community centers and hospitals, facilitating access and availability of high-quality printed and audiovisual health information. Third, health leaders should ensure the equitable and adequate vaccine distribution in all countries, especially in low- and middle- income countries. A gap has been created between nations, where high-income countries have had access to the largest amount of COVID-19 vaccines, leaving middle- and low-income countries struggling to reach an adequate supply for the population. Increasing vaccination rates should be the priority, strategies to improve access and availability across all global nations are indispensable. Therefore, it is important to emphasize the need of sustainable political commitment to flatten the epidemic curve of the COVID-19.

The management of the third COVID-19 wave represents a significant challenge for all countries and health systems. Nations must commit to working together and develop joint actions that help lessen the impact of this pandemic, since global cooperation is the only pathway to contain the spread of the virus. Taking prompt action, offering essential resources to health leaders and securing global fair access to the vaccines, can mark substantial steps forward to achieve optimal population health across the world and control the COVID-19 pandemic.

References

  1. World Health Organization. Community-based health care, including outreach and campaigns, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 22]. Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/community-based-health-care-including-outreach-and-campaigns-in-the-context-of-the-covid-19-pandemic.

About the author

María José Bisonó Belliard is a fourth-year medical student in Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of the European Sting. She has great interest in Obstetrics and Gynecology and advocates for women´s health specially, in vulnerable population. You can contact her in mariajosebisono@gmail.com

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