The pandemic is not over, and the key to moving forward is for governments to focus on clear and consistent messaging. At least, this is the case according to Martin McKee, the past president of the European Public Health Association and current president of the British Medical Association (BMA).
In a recent series of tweets, Martin set out what he believes to be the best plan to manage the pandemic going into the future. The plan falls into seven key steps, each equally important in preventing the spread and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many of the points are aimed at governments and organisations, there are some interesting takeaways that we can all act on.
Firstly, Martin states that all messaging regarding COVID-19 needs to be clear and consistent. Citizens should not and can not be left in doubt as to what actions to take, and for this to occur, there needs to be an overall plan that is constantly communicated and followed.
Secondly, efforts to promote vaccine uptake should be focused on. In particular, groups with low vaccine uptake need attention. On top of this, a clear plan is needed to address future variants that may lead to waning immunity both naturally and from the vaccine. Further, Martin also discusses the importance of a global equitable provision of both vaccines and anti-virals.
Thirdly, ventilation systems in buildings and other high-risk areas must be upgraded to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially during summer. This needs to focus particularly on enclosed environments such as offices and classrooms.
Lateral flow tests should be free and with easy access. Although many countries already offer free testing, many don’t. Having a barrier to testing, whether financial or otherwise, reduces test rates and decreases the chance that individuals who catch COVID-19 are aware of the fact and can self-isolate when needed. The government also needs to provide financial and other essential support for those who require self-isolation.
Finally, respirator use should be promoted in high-risk situations such as public transportation. Masks no longer cut it, and with a wealth of studies pointing to the increased efficacy of respirators, these devices are the new standard.
If you want to hear more about Martin’s thoughts, you can find them on his Twitter profile or at the link below. The link also delves into a bit more detail regarding the background as to why these steps are so essential.