COVID-19 is continuing to spread across the world at a rapid rate. By 30 April 2020, the pandemic had affected at least 185 countries/regions, with more than 4 million confirmed cases and in excess of 200,000 deaths globally. The pandemic has presented a myriad of challenges for health care systems around the world, including pressures on health care staff, general hospital beds, intensive care capacity and specialized equipment. In addition to the health effects of the disease, lockdown measures to contain the disease have placed a significant economic burden on countries and communities. Policymakers must balance curtailing the negative health effects of the pandemic against minimizing the economic impact on societies, calibrating these decisions for the epidemiological, social, cultural and infrastructure context of an individual country. There is currently no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, so countries that choose to try to interrupt its spread must rely on non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs); these NPIs fall into various categories of behaviour change, including self-isolation for symptomatic individuals, increased hand hygiene, and physical distancing in social settings.
The COVID-19 International Modelling Consortium (CoMo Consortium) was created by researchers at the University of Oxford together with academic colleagues at Cornell University and is partnering with infectious disease modellers and other public health experts from more than 40 countries across Africa, Asia, and South and North America. The CoMo Consortium uses a participatory approach to provide decision-making support to policymakers, using evidence from epidemiological and economic models adapted to each country’s context.