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 TD., Porco TC., Lietman TM.
Abstract Background 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. 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 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. Conclusions If the pandemic can motivate judicious, community-specific implementation of control strategies, global elimination of trachoma as a public health problem could be accelerated.