Two years after publication of the inaugural edition of the Global Health Security Index, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between excess mortality during the pandemic and national preparedness as defined by the index. To better inform the future iterations of the GHS Index, the project team engaged in research to assess whether the 2019 edition contained the right information to score pandemic preparedness, to identify additional factors for inclusion, and to better understand how the impact of some elements of preparedness can fluctuate over the course of a pandemic. The research is now available in the BMJ.
The new research found that:
- Sociopolitical and governance variables characterizing social polarization, social cohesion, and perception of corruption significantly influenced excess mortality throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The impact of different preparedness components, such as the robustness of the epidemiological workforce, vary throughout ongoing public health emergencies.
- Fixed characteristics of countries, such as increased geographic connectedness, an aging population, or lack of experience responding to biological events, significantly increase their risk profile and can be used to identify particularly vulnerable countries.
- Countries were able to develop preparedness capacity on the fly during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite an initial lack of capacity.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many of the capacity gaps identified in the 2019 GHS Index, further emphasizing its finding that no countries were adequately prepared for a major biological event. The new research offers some evidence that countries improved elements of their capacity as the pandemic progressed. However, sustaining these improvements and translating them into enduring health systems—thereby strengthening preparedness against future biological threats—will require significant investment and political will.
Read “Analysing COVID-19 outcomes in the context of the 2019 Global Health Security (GHS) Index” on the BMJ’s website here.