Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.
Blumberg S., Borlase A., Prada JM., Solomon AW., Emerson P., Hooper PJ., Deiner MS., Amoah B., Hollingsworth D., Porco TC., Lietman TM.
BACKGROUND: Progress towards elimination of trachoma as a public health problem has been substantial, but the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted community-based control efforts. METHODS: We use a susceptible-infected model to estimate the impact of delayed distribution of azithromycin treatment on the prevalence of active trachoma. RESULTS: We identify three distinct scenarios for geographic districts depending on whether the basic reproduction number and the treatment-associated reproduction number are above or below a value of one. We find that when the basic reproduction number is below one, no significant delays in disease control will be caused. However, when the basic reproduction number is above one, significant delays can occur. In most districts a year of COVID-related delay can be mitigated by a single extra round of mass drug administration. However, supercritical districts require a new paradigm of infection control because the current strategies will not eliminate disease. CONCLUSION: If the pandemic can motivate judicious, community-specific implementation of control strategies, global elimination of trachoma as a public health problem could be accelerated.