PAHO develops tool to forecast trends during outbreaks such as COVID

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has developed a modelling tool that tracks cases during outbreaks of diseases, such as the coronavirus, and forecasts short-term trends. 

Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said that this tool will help member countries analyse the impact of different public health measures to inform their responses. 

“Today, countries in the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines, are leveraging this model to manage the ongoing outbreaks,” she informed, while speaking during PAHO’s recent COVID-19 digital media briefing. 

Dr. Etienne said that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, member countries not yet utilising the tool are encouraged to use it to design their responses and apply public health measures “at the right time”. 

She also expressed the hope that countries will continue to collaborate to improve the region’s surveillance capability to track developments during outbreaks. 

“Thanks to the efforts of countries across the Americas, our region has built a robust and innovative surveillance network that enables us to keep a close eye on this [COVID-19] and on the emergence and spread of variants,” the Director said. 

Dr. Etienne said building on the legacy of the region’s long-standing influenza and other respiratory viruses surveillance and laboratory networks, “we now have a robust network of 45 national public health labs, [which] is growing, that runs COVID molecular tests from all over the Americas”. 

She advised that PAHO has been supporting the network by standardising laboratory protocols, conducting training, and donating more than 21 million COVID polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and nearly 18 million rapid diagnostic tests to regional countries. 

“We must keep investing in and expanding this regional network. This platform helps us track COVID-19 cases and can be adapted to identify other viruses and other emerging pathogens, serving as the region’s backbone for pandemic preparedness,” Dr. Etienne said. 

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