Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in 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.
<h4>Background</h4>Progress towards elimination of trachoma as a public health problem has been substantial, but the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted community-based control efforts.<h4>Methods</h4>We use a susceptible-infected model to estimate the impact of delayed distribution of azithromycin treatment on the prevalence of active trachoma.<h4>Results</h4>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 1. We find that when the basic reproduction number is <1, no significant delays in disease control will be caused. However, when the basic reproduction number is >1, significant delays can occur. In most districts, 1 y 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.<h4>Conclusions</h4>If the pandemic can motivate judicious, community-specific implementation of control strategies, global elimination of trachoma as a public health problem could be accelerated.