The Pandemic Response Initiative (PRI), led by the Institute for Global Health Sciences, together with our partners IDinsight and Evidence Action, has been rapidly mobilized to support low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to develop their own playbooks to prevent widespread devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic, tailored to the realities of their populations and economies.
PRI is focused on:
- Providing LMICs with their own set of customized tools to inform their response, and
- Creating impact at the community level.
Therapeutics for COVID-19 and future pandemic preparedness
While the world has mobilized at unprecedented speed to develop effective vaccines, it will still take time for widespread vaccine distribution and immunization, particularly in the lower income countries.
Complementary solutions, such as effective therapeutics, are urgently needed to mitigate the toll of the pandemic. Technologies that we develop now during the COVID-19 pandemic also have the potential to aid in future pandemics.
One such therapy is monoclonal antibodies. PRI recently hosted a digital forum entitled, Monoclonal Antibodies for COVID-19 in Africa: Promise and Pitfalls with global health experts.
Panelists diverse perspectives ranged from Africa CDC to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust alongside Center for Global Development, and University of Kwa-Zu Natal, and Just-Evotec Biologics. Perspectives from Liberia, South Africa and Ghana where also shared. Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar, Dr. Dean Pettit, Professor Satima Suleman, Dr. Prashant Yadav along with discussant, Dr. George B. Kyei and special guest, Dr. Raji Tajudeen with closing remarks by Dr. Trevor Mundel discussed the obstacles to efficiently, effectively, and equitably rolling out monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 across Africa and identify possible solutions for addressing these challenges.
Prioritize Diagnostic Resources
With 100,000 antigen tests projected to deploy to the African continent by the end of 2020, tens of millions of dollars have been invested in diagnostics but without prioritization guidance, testing supplies will be sub-optimally used. The challenge is that LMIC governments don’t have strong recommendations on how to best utilize diagnostic tests effectively and efficiently in resources limited settings. PRI, with our partners, IDinsight created an evidence-based analytical tool, PRIoritize_Dx, that helps strategically allocate scarce testing resources. The tool uses country specific inputs to aid policy makers in targeting their diagnostic program to the most at-risk populations.
Establish surveillance and tracking systems
Without data we cannot act in a targeted way. Using existing real-time, phone-based data collection methods pioneered by IDinsight and global tech firms, UCSF and Evidence Action are piloting a syndromic surveillance system at the community level to establish efficient tracing of new cases and develop risk models that support COVID-19 communities. With this data, we provide decision-makers with both aggregate and granular data on the evolution of the pandemic.
In the near future, we will design and test additional methods for rapidly identifying new clusters of COVID-19 transmission in communities, including using machine learning applications to extrapolate from limited available data.
For more information contact: [email protected]
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