From Our Bureau    

30th MAY 2020

The Corona Virus (CPVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 58,17,385 and the death toll reaching 3,62,705 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, European region continued to be the worst-hit in terms of fatalities with 21,22,350 confirmed cases and 1,79,353 deaths. American region came next with 26,77,500 confirmed cases and 1,54,608 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 4,89,921 confirmed cases and 12,078 deaths.

Western Pacific region’s tally stood at 1,80,446 confirmed cases and 7,157 deaths. South-East Asia region recorded 2,49,525 confirmed cases and 7,157 deaths and African region witnessed 96,902 confirmed cases and 2,482 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

WHO has published key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak. The document provides guidance on containing risks of COVID-19 transmission associated with mass gathering events.

The UN and WHO have urged governments around the world to take the mental health consequences of the pandemic seriously, and ensure widespread availability of mental health support. WHO discusses this in a recently released article and has published guidelines for communities and a children’s book.

An article released by WHO Regional Office for Europe introduces recently published technical guidance on preventing and managing the COVID-19 pandemic across long term care services.

WHO has released a framework for decision-making that proposes a step-wise approach to the assessment of the relative risks and benefits of conducting mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19.

Framework for decision-making: implementation of mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19

For countries affected by vaccine-preventable diseases and high impact diseases (VPD/HID) and COVID-19 outbreaks, determining the best course of action may be challenging. Countries must weigh the benefits of a safe and effective intervention to reduce mortality and morbidity, against the risks of increasing transmission of a new disease that may burden essential health services.

The starting point for such considerations is a risk-benefit analysis that reviews the epidemiological evidence and balances the short- and medium-term public health consequences of implementing or postponing mass vaccination campaigns, against a potential increase in COVID-19 transmission.

In order to support this process, WHO has developed a document that: i. outlines a common framework for decision-making for the conduct of preventive and outbreak response campaigns; ii. offers principles to consider when deliberating the implementation of mass vaccination campaigns for prevention of increased risk of VPD/HID among susceptible populations; and iii. and details the risks and benefits of conducting vaccination campaigns to respond to VPD/HID outbreaks.

The framework proposes a five steps approach, each accompanied by a set of principles and criteria to consider during the decision-making process: Step 1: Assess the potential impact of the VPD/HID outbreak using key epidemiological criteria. Step 2: Assess the potential benefits of a mass vaccination campaign and the country capacity to implement it safely and effectively. Step 3: Consider the potential risk of increased COVID-19 transmission associated with the mass vaccination campaign. Step 4: Determine the most appropriate actions considering the COVID-19 epidemiological situation. Step 5: If a decision is made to proceed with a mass vaccination campaign, implement best practice.

The document also provides recommendations on how to safely organize a mass vaccination campaign, including the organization of vaccination sites and specific recommendations for vaccinators.  (eom)

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