Convened by Institute on Science for Global Policy
02-27-2023 - 03-01-2023
COVID-SPC Conference SummaryIn late February and early March of 2023, the Institute on Science for Global Policy convened an internet-based ISGP Debate/Caucus Conference for the ISGP Program on “Foresight from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Science, Policy, Communication” (COVID-SPC). The three-day event focused the efforts of more than sixty distinguished subject-matter experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers on debating critical infectious disease challenges as well as identifying broad Areas of Consensus (AoC) and specific Actionable Next Steps (ANS) for informing real-world decision-making. Seven invited Position Paper Authors presented and defended their evidence-based views on crucial aspects of infectious disease preparedness and response among more than sixty Debaters from throughout governmental, private sector, public advocacy, academic, and communication communities. Both Authors and Debaters were engaged collectively in plenary caucuses to identify AoC and ANS.
Overarching Perspectives and Priorities SummaryThis section provides the final Overarching Priorities and Perspectives (OPP), which represent concise ideas and concepts emerging from (i) GAP-COVID meetings, (iv) thematic analysis of the 300 interviews+; and (v) outcomes emerging from the debates and caucuses in the ISGP COVID-SPC Internet-Based Conference. The findings from each of these engagements with stakeholders and subject-matter experts representing governmental, private sector, and public advocacy communities worldwide are collectively reflected as OPP in full recognition that individual contributions reflect diverse, even conflicting, interpretations of credible scientific and technological understanding.
- To combat infectious diseases and elevate scientific literacy throughout society, it is essential to improve public understanding and scientific literacy through (i) credible experimentation and analysis, (ii) critical peer reviews of research publications prior to public access, and (iii) ongoing regulatory evaluations and research informing public health strategies to mitigate fear and the spread of misinformation.
- The establishment of ongoing, collaborative relationships among political, economic, and cultural leaders and influencers is central to effectively fostering communication throughout diverse communities responding to public health emergencies, including infectious disease outbreaks. Communication models need to (i) utilize credible scientific interlocutors with trusted local and/or community messengers, (ii) convey messages in a manner that is tailored to respective communities, especially those that are underserved, (iii) emphasize the likelihood that routinely changing public health conditions require updated messaging, and (iv) ensure updated messaging accurately reflects a broad range of public health challenges beyond infectious diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, asthma).
- Early involvement of governmental, private sector, and public advocacy commitments to policies spanning local, regional, national, and global challenges require (i) sharing existing and emerging biomedical research and information (e.g., successes and failures), (ii) soliciting community-wide views and priorities, (iii) monitoring the degree of public acceptance of evidence-based information and advice, and (iv) establishing economic and licensing agreements consistent with the need to rapidly deploy vaccines, non-pharmaceutical options, and clinical trials.
- There is a need for continued research and deployment of pharmaceutical interventions based on scientifically credible evidence-based information that recognize the different stages of disease progression observed in diverse local, national, regional, and certainly across global populations.
- Pathways for regulatory decisions controlling the permitting of research, development, testing, approval for public use, and marketing guidelines of pharmaceutical products and therapeutic treatments need to be clearly delineated and easily accessible to biomedical researchers, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and the public writ large (e.g., regulatory expectations for Emergency Use Authorization).
- Current levels of travel and trade across national, regional, and international boundaries ensure that targeting selected geographical areas and/or limited population groups for attention is unlikely to protect public health against widely circulating disease vectors, therefore effective strategies intended to combat infectious disease outbreaks need to recognize fundamental global requirements
- Successful public health strategies need to proactively (i) acquire and maintain the large stockpiles of vaccines, medicines for therapeutic treatments, and medical supplies (e.g., diagnostic and testing kits, personal protection equipment, ventilators, etc.) and (ii) retain professional and/or standby cadres of trained medical and hospital staff at levels adequate to meet the emergency conditions reasonably anticipated during and after major infectious disease outbreaks. Reliance solely upon reactive strategies can be expected to result in widespread challenges in public health responses.
- The establishment of sustained funding to support rapidly evolving monitoring and research needed to address the serious challenges presented by existing and emerging infectious diseases is foundational for all public health strategies. Without initiatives to coordinate, restructure, and monitor research efforts undertaken by academic, national laboratories, state and local, and private sector stakeholders, there cannot be a reasonable expectation of successfully combating the myriad forms of infectious pathogens and disease expressions currently recognized worldwide.
- Strategic improvements in existing infectious disease surveillance programs need to incorporate legally accessible data within electronic health records (e.g., age, sex assigned at birth, ethnicity, race, demographic information, major health interventions, and outcomes) that may be linked to the evaluation of co-morbidities, mortality, and disease transmissibility factors.
COVID-SPC Topics and Position Papers
- Debate/Position Paper 1: Prioritizing Ongoing and Emerging Scientific Research Pertaining to Infectious Diseases
- Position Paper Author: COL Nelson Michael, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Center for Infectious Diseases Research, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
- Debate/Position Paper 2: Optimizing the Effectiveness of Infectious Disease Surveillance Before, During, and Following Outbreaks
- Position Paper Author: Dr. Sunil Solomon, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Director, Center for Infectious Diseases in India, Johns Hopkins University
- Debate/Position Paper 3: Evaluating and Developing Therapeutic Options for Addressing Infectious Diseases
- Position Paper Author: Dr. Michael Kurilla, Director, Division of Clinical Innovation at National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institute of Health
- Debate/Position Paper 4: Examining Vaccine Development, Prioritization, and Use for Domestic and Global Prophylaxis
- Position Paper Author: Dr. Stephen Thomas, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, Upstate Medical University
- Debate/Position Paper 5: Implementing Responsive Strategies Based on Diagnostic Insights
- Position Paper Author: Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
- Debate/Position Paper 6: Optimizing Diverse, Evidence-based Messages and Identifying Broadly Trusted Societal Interlocutors to Convey Critical Public Health Information
- Position Paper Author: Dr. Cynthia Baur, Director, the University of Maryland Horowitz Center for Health Literacy; former Plain Language and Health Literacy Lead, Centers forDisease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Debate/Position Paper 7: Examining the Societal Impacts of Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation and Developing Practical Approaches to Effectively Respond to the Consequences of Inaccurate Messaging on Infectious Diseases
- Position Paper Author: Ms. Renée DiResta, Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observatory
Policy Position papers
This book was developed by the ISGP from the position papers, debates, and caucuses at the Foresight from the Covid-19 Pandemic: Science, Policy, Comm...