As many countries begin reopening, the threat of a second wave of the novel coronavirus looms, indeed as, in some cases, the first wave hasn't even ended. Lessons learned and protocols in place should continue to be heeded and evaluated, and health systems need to be shockproof.
In their efforts to contain COVID-19, many countries have enforced lockdowns and stricter restrictions to arrest the daily rise of fresh infections. Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd has reportedly warned “...that there will be many further deaths in the days ahead.”
The British Medical Journal states, “...a second wave will only be managed effectively if we learn lessons from the first wave.” It is a second chance to get things right — getting data sharing right and making contact tracing right, the BMJ added.
And with vaccines being rapidly trialed for a hoped-for rollout in the foreseeable future, a strategy for vaccine administration, distribution, and management becomes a key component of preparedness for the second wave.
Containment measures need to be 100% right, tested, and proved as the primary way to break the chain of viral transmission. Solutions already deployed should show their value in supporting approaches to local outbreaks.
One state ready for a COVID-19 second wave is the state of Louisiana.
One State’s Experience: A Use Case for a Tech Strategy
Many of the southern states have been heavily hit by COVID-19's first wave. But the experience of one state — its tech strategy for contact tracing and, in particular, for self-isolation management — is important to consider when dealing with the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges, be it for the second wave or beyond.
With a diverse population of several million people to protect and a $250 billion economy to preserve, this state faced the challenge of ensuring economic survival while enforcing containment measures. To do this, it used cutting-edge technology to augment and re-engineer public health measures with both information and services.
The Office of Public Health (OPH) partnered with academic medical centers and private sector IT companies to provide innovative COVID-19 responses. More specifically, the state allowed OPH to calibrate its lockdown requirements against the objective public health data derived from COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and self-isolation management.
They used an algorithm-based program of self-isolation support for people, co-developed by OPH and LifeWIRE and based on CDC guidelines and made available immediately after COVID-19 testing for those who tested positive, those who were at-risk contacts, and those experiencing symptoms. This COVID-19 Self-Isolation Management Program (COVID SIP™) met OPH’s privacy and cyber-security requirements without the need for a pandemic-related waiver.
The COVID SIP™ prototype ran from March to May 2020 by a consenting group from a COVID-19-tested population accessed via text messaging. Its initial uptake rate was 60%. The Day 1 enrollment survey was completed by 81% of the users, with 75% finishing the program and receiving self-isolation management support for up to 10 days. Those needing urgent help based on their symptoms were triaged following the programmed algorithms.
The COVID Tech Solution
COVID SIP™ is an innovation of LifeWIRE’s rapid and scalable population outreach for Digital Education, Self‐Isolation Management, and Care Coordination. It is available for employers, health systems, states, and government to use as an self-isolation management tool that can operate as a stand-alone program or be incorporated into a comprehensive contact-tracing and care-management program.
The protocol is customizable in over 30 languages and deployable on multiple modalities such as text messages, email, websites, and interactive voice response over the phone. Its application program interface ensures a secure and standardized exchange of data and offers both routine and customizable reports and reporting tools.
Stepping up efforts like this is the way forward as we prepare for the second wave (or the continuing first wave) of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak needs to be met with a health system that is both ready and properly resourced with funds and data. Data elevated through a shared process is crucial to making informed decisions on public health measures.
The first wave of COVID-19 was a "test run" of systems preparedness and solutions against unprecedented challenges. When the second wave of COVID-19 hits, we need to implement innovative strategies and technologies, because the second wave will require all this and more. Anything less will be to the detriment of public health and welfare. #BeLifeWIREd