COST Action CA18218

Alexander Rommel - BoCO-19: Towards a harmonization of population health metrics for the surveillance of dynamic outbreaks

Dr. Alexander Rommel, scientific researcher with Robert Koch Institute, Germany, is in the burden-eu spotlight to discuss the burden of disease due to COVID-19 (BoCO-19) initiative.


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What is the rationale of BoCO-19?

Burden of disease (BoD) methodology is a suitable instrument to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on population health. Through tackling the challenges to measure the BoD of COVID-19, various countries have developed different methodologies leading to results that can be difficult to compare – https://www.burden-eu.net/outputs/covid-19. The scientific network "BoCO-19 - The Burden of Disease due to COVID-19" was applied for by the Burden of Disease working group at the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin.

Who are the partners and what is the scope?

BoCO-19 was recently approved by the German Federal Ministry of Health under the German government’s Global Health Protection Program targeting lower-middle income countries for a funding period of two years. Prof. Brecht Devleesschauwer and Dr. Sara Monteiro Pires represent the burden-eu COST action as project partners. Prof. Milena Šantrić Milićević will also take on the task of a regional contact point for the partner organizations from South-East Europe and Turkey. Another contact point, headed by Associate Professor Kairat Davletov from Kazakhstan, will coordinate the partners from the post-Soviet states and Mongolia. Governmental bodies, university institutes and non-governmental organizations from Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have expressed their willingness to actively participate.

The objective of BoCO-19 is to review the existing approaches and to apply a consistent methodology considering country-specific conditions such as the level of detail of available information and data accessibility. In addition to an inventory of the available data sources, the project consists of online meetings and a total of four workshops aiming to calculate BoD indicators for COVID-19 for all partner countries. In addition to assessing the disease burden for an entire calendar year, the example of COVID-19 will also be used to explore ways of making the method usable for timely surveillance.

How will BoCO-19 cooperate with burden-eu COST action?

BoCO-19 is to be implemented in a bilateral cooperation between a total of 14 BoCO-19 partner countries and the burden-eu COST action, where a baseline standard on how to measure the COVID-19 related burden of disease has recently been published – https://www.burden-eu.net/docs/covid19-bod-protocol.pdf. The link between the two projects is particularly strengthened by overlapping personnel in some of the countries involved. Moreover, the further development and application of the methods will be closely agreed between BoCO-19 and the Burden of COVID-19 Working Group in the burden-eu COST action. COST partners who would like to participate in BoCO-19 at own expense can contact Alexander Rommel, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin ().

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COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology – see www.cost.eu) is a unique platform where European researchers can jointly develop their ideas and initiatives across all scientific disciplines through trans-European networking of nationally funded research. COST is supported by the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 Programme.

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