Coronavirus (185) WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards

23 March, 2020

Dear HIFA colleagues,

An important new Comment in The Lancet from the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards. Citation and extracts below. Full text here:

CITATION: COVID-19: towards controlling of a pandemic

Juliet Bedford et al.

The Lancet 2020


'The WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH) regularly reviews and updates its risk assessment of COVID-19 to make recommendations to the WHO health emergencies programme... The STAG-IH emphasises the importance of the continued rapid sharing of data of public health importance in medical journals that provide rapid peer review and online publication without a paywall. It is sharing of information in this way, as well as technical collaboration among clinicians, epidemiologists, and virologists, that has provided the world with its current understanding of COVID-19.'

'STAG-IH makes the following recommendations:

First, countries need to rapidly and robustly increase their preparedness, readiness, and response actions based on their national risk assessment and the four WHO transmission scenarios11 for countries with no cases, first cases, first clusters, and community transmission and spread (4Cs).

Second, all countries should consider a combination of response measures: case and contact finding; containment or other measures that aim to delay the onset of patient surges where feasible; and measures such as public awareness, promotion of personal protective hygiene, preparation of health systems for a surge of severely ill patients, stronger infection prevention and control in health facilities, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, and postponement or cancellation of large-scale public gatherings.

Third, countries with no or a few first cases of COVID-19 should consider active surveillance for timely case finding; isolate, test, and trace every contact in containment; practise social distancing; and ready their health-care systems and populations for spread of infection.

Fourth, lower-income and middle-income countries that request support from WHO should be fully supported technically and financially. Financial support should be sought by countries and by WHO, including from the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility and other mechanisms.

Finally, research gaps about COVID-19 should be addressed and are shown in the accompanying panel and include some identified by the global community and by the Research and Development Blueprint Scientific Advisory Group.'

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: