Modelling trachoma post-2020: opportunities for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and accelerating progress towards elimination.
Borlase A., Blumberg S., Callahan EK., Deiner MS., Nash SD., Porco TC., Solomon AW., Lietman TM., Prada JM., Hollingsworth TD.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted planned annual antibiotic mass drug administration (MDA) activities that have formed the cornerstone of the largely successful global efforts to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. METHODS: Using a mathematical model we investigate the impact of interruption to MDA in trachoma-endemic settings. We evaluate potential measures to mitigate this impact and consider alternative strategies for accelerating progress in those areas where the trachoma elimination targets may not be achievable otherwise. RESULTS: We demonstrate that for districts that were hyperendemic at baseline, or where the trachoma elimination thresholds have not already been achieved after three rounds of MDA, the interruption to planned MDA could lead to a delay to reaching elimination targets greater than the duration of interruption. We also show that an additional round of MDA in the year following MDA resumption could effectively mitigate this delay. For districts where the probability of elimination under annual MDA was already very low, we demonstrate that more intensive MDA schedules are needed to achieve agreed targets. CONCLUSION: Through appropriate use of additional MDA, the impact of COVID-19 in terms of delay to reaching trachoma elimination targets can be effectively mitigated. Additionally, more frequent MDA may accelerate progress towards 2030 goals.