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Our publications keep professionals informed on the most important developments and issues in health security and biosecurity.

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Post-epidemic health system recovery: A comparative case study analysis of routine immunization programs in the Republics of Haiti and Liberia

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PLoS One
Publication Type
Article

Large-scale epidemics in resource-constrained settings disrupt delivery of core health services, such as routine immunization. Rebuilding and strengthening routine immunization programs following epidemics is an essential step toward improving vaccine equity and averting future outbreaks. We performed a comparative case study analysis of routine immunization program recovery in Liberia and Haiti following the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola epidemic and 2010s cholera epidemic, respectively. First, we triangulated data between the peer-reviewed and grey literature; in-depth key informant interviews with subject matter experts; and quantitative metrics of population health and health system functioning. We used these data to construct thick descriptive narratives for each case. Finally, we performed a cross-case comparison by applying a thematic matrix based on the Essential Public Health Services framework to each case narrative.

PanREMEDY meeting report cover

Post-Pandemic Recovery: From What, For Whom, and How?

Publication Type
Meeting Report

On October 4 and 6, 2022, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in collaboration with the Center for Health and Economic Resilience Research at Texas State University, convened a virtual symposium to consider how to operationalize the process of holistic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the event was to advise leaders in local and state government on what strategies they might adopt and/or support to facilitate recovery of the whole person from COVID-19, reverse the societal determinants of uneven impacts, and develop resilience to future public health emergencies.

Participant discussions produced a set of strategic actions that government authorities and partners can implement now and moving forward to effect necessary repair and change when the impulse to forget and move on is strong. Speakers represented a broad range of stakeholders, including local elected officials, recovery/resilience officers, planners, public health practitioners, disaster managers, financial investors, mental health professionals, healthcare administrators, religious leaders, housing advocates, community health providers, rural health experts, food security providers, social service administrators, academic researchers, restorative justice experts, equity strategists, artists, writers, and journalists.

Authors
Rex Long
Emily Repasky
Britney Treviño
et al.
Cover of the CommuniHealth Playbook

The CommuniHealth Playbook: How to Spur on Your Local Community Health Sector

Publication Type
Report

The CommuniHealth Playbook compiles field-tested strategies and tactics for advancing the community health sector locally. The Playbook’s practical guidance is the culminating product of CommuniHealth, the successor to the CommuniVax Coalition. With the support of a national working group, teams in Alabama, California, and Maryland used direct experience, trial and error, and ground-level truth to develop practical ways of mobilizing local forces for vibrant and sustainably resourced community health systems. This introductory text provides context for the project, shares the CommuniHealth “Principles for Partnership with Communities,” and serves as a centralized index to the guidance contained in the 3 local team reports.

Authors
Emily Brunson
Madison Taylor
Marc Trotochaud
on behalf of the CommuniHealth Coalition
CommuniVax National Report #3 report cover

A Waypoint on the Path to Health Equity: COVID-19 Vaccination at Month 11

Publication Type
Report

This CommuniVax Coalition report represents a waypoint in the COVID-19 pandemic: an opportunity to pause to mark the distance traveled, alter the course if necessary, and set out on the next part of the journey. It describes progress made toward greater equity in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and proposes steps to advance even further. CommuniVax is a national rapid research coalition of social scientists, public health experts, healthcare providers, and community advocates, and a part of the larger community of practice that has observed and participated in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout through an equity lens.

Authors
Emily Brunson
Divya Hosangadi
Rex Long
Madison Taylor
Marc Trotochaud
on behalf of the CommuniVax Coalition

Modeling epidemic recovery: An expert elicitation on issues and approaches

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Social Science & Medicine
Publication Type
Article

Since the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in late 2019, the world has been in a state of high alert and reactivity. Once the acute stage of the infectious disease crisis does abate, however, few if any communities will have a detailed roadmap to guide recovery – that is, the process of becoming whole again and working to reduce similar, future risk. In both research and policy contexts where data are absent or difficult to obtain, expert judgment can help fill the void. Between November 2019 and February 2020, we conducted an expert elicitation process, asking fourteen key informants – with specializations in infectious diseases, disaster recovery, community resilience, public health, emergency management, and policymaking – to identify the design principles, priority issues, and field experiences that should inform development of an epidemic recovery model. Participants argued that recovery from epidemics is distinct from natural disasters due to epidemics’ potential to produce effects over large areas for extended periods of time and ability to generate high levels of fear, anticipatory anxiety, and antisocial behavior. Furthermore, epidemic recovery is a complex, nonlinear process involving many domains – political, economic, sociocultural, infrastructural, and human health. As such, an adequate model of post-epidemic recovery should extend beyond strictly medical matters, specify units of interest (e.g., individual, family, institution, sector, community), capture differing trajectories of recovery given social determinants of health, and be fit for use depending upon user group (e.g., policymakers, responders, researchers). This formative study commences a longer-term effort to generate indicators for a holistic, transformative epidemic recovery at the community level.

CoumminVax National Report #2 - Carrying Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination Forward: Guidance Informed by Communities of Color

Carrying Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination Forward: Guidance Informed by Communities of Color

Publication Type
Report

Seven months into the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the United States, nearly 50% of the American population has been vaccinated. While this is a monumental accomplishment, there is still much work to do.

In the coming months, the country will face a series of vaccination challenges including serving groups with persistently low vaccine uptake (due to, for example, low/no access, vaccine hesitancy, or a combination of factors), expanding COVID-19 vaccination to children (particularly those whose parents may be less willing to vaccinate their children than to get vaccinated themselves), and orchestrating a potential booster dose campaign (with its own hesitancy issues). As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues, lessons from the vaccine rollout to date can help provide direction moving forward.

Authors
Emily Brunson
Mary Carnes
Divya Hosangadi
Rex Long
Madison Taylor
Marc Trotochaud
on behalf of the CommuniVax Coalition

Why Social Distance Demands Social Justice: Systemic Racism, COVID-19, and Health Security in the United States

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Health Security
Publication Type
Article

The trajectories of infectious disease and racial injustice in the United States have been inextricably entwined for centuries. Smallpox, for example, is thought to have arrived with Europeans to the Americas in the 16th century bringing devastating effects to Indigenous populations.1 By the 17th century, numerous reports detail efforts by colonists to deliberately infect Native Americans, becoming one of the earliest documented histories of intentional biological warfare. Further links between infectious disease and racial injustice can be traced to the 1721 smallpox epidemic that ravaged Boston. During this time, the Puritan minister Cotton Mather advocated widely for inoculation, a procedure wherein dried pus from a smallpox patient was scraped into a healthy person's skin to build immunity.2 Mather had learned of inoculation from an enslaved man named Onesimus, who brought knowledge of the practice from Africa. After Zabdiel Boylston, a local physician, successfully tested the procedure on his own son and 2 enslaved household members, he and Mather launched a public inoculation campaign. However, they encountered pushback from White Bostonians, some of whom questioned the validity of African medical practices and speculated that inoculation was a ploy to kill slaveowners. Another physician, William Douglas, went so far as to satirically advocate for using inoculation as a weapon against Native Americans, proposing cash rewards for each death.2,3 Ultimately, though, only 1% to 2% of inoculation recipients died of smallpox during the outbreak, compared to 15% of Bostonians who were infected naturally.3

A Public Health Systems View of Risk Communication About Zika

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Public Health Reports
Publication Type
Article

The spread of Zika virus throughout Latin America and parts of the United States in 2016 and 2017 presented a challenge to public health communicators. The objective of our study was to describe emergency risk communication practices during the 2016-2017 Zika outbreak to inform future infectious disease communication efforts.

Authors
Laura E. Pechta
Dale A. Rose
Keri M. Lubell
Michelle N. Podgornik
Equity in Vaccination: A Plan to Work with Communities of Color Toward COVID-19 Recovery and Beyond

Equity in Vaccination: A Plan to Work with Communities of Color Toward COVID-19 Recovery and Beyond

Publication Type
Report

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had tragic and disproportionate adverse effects on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities across the United States. The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to this disease is significantly higher in these groups. Additionally, members of BIPOC communities are among those hit the hardest by the economic and social upheavals caused by the pandemic.

Authors
Emily Brunson
Divya Hosangadi
Rex Long
Madison Taylor
Marc Trotochaud
on behalf of the Working Group on Equity in COVID-19

The public’s role in COVID-19 vaccination: human-centered recommendations to enhance pandemic vaccine awareness, access, and acceptance in the United States

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Vaccine
Publication Type
Article

Given the social and economic upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, political leaders, health officials, and members of the public are eager for solutions. One of the most promising, if they can be successfully developed, is vaccines. While the technological development of such countermeasures is currently underway, a key social gap remains. Past experience in routine and crisis contexts demonstrates that uptake of vaccines is more complicated than simply making the technology available. Vaccine uptake, and especially the widespread acceptance of vaccines, is a social endeavor that requires consideration of human factors. To provide a starting place for this critical component of a future COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the United States, the 23-person Working Group on Readying Populations for COVID-19 Vaccines was formed. One outcome of this group is a synthesis of the major challenges and opportunities associated with a future COVID-19 vaccination campaign and empirically-informed recommendations to advance public understanding of, access to, and acceptance of vaccines that protect against SARS-CoV-2. While not inclusive of all possible steps than could or should be done to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination, the working group believes that the recommendations provided are essential for a successful vaccination program.

Authors
Emily Brunson
Rex Long
Alexandra Ruth
Marc Trotochaud
Luciana Borio
Joseph Buccina
Nancy Connell
Laura Lee Hall
Nancy Kass
Anna Kirkland
Lisa Koonin
Heidi Larson
Brooke Fisher Lu
Saad B. Omer
Walter A. Orenstein
Alexandre White

The value proposition of the Global Health Security Index

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BMJ Global Health
Publication Type
Article

Infectious disease outbreaks pose major threats to human health and security. Countries with robust capacities for preventing, detecting and responding to outbreaks can avert many of the social, political, economic and health system costs of such crises. The Global Health Security Index (GHS Index)—the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries—recently found that no country is sufficiently prepared for epidemics or pandemics. The GHS Index can help health security stakeholders identify areas of weakness, as well as opportunities to collaborate across sectors, collectively strengthen health systems and achieve shared public health goals. Some scholars have recently offered constructive critiques of the GHS Index’s approach to scoring and ranking countries; its weighting of select indicators; its emphasis on transparency; its focus on biosecurity and biosafety capacities; and divergence between select country scores and corresponding COVID-19-associated caseloads, morbidity, and mortality. Here, we (1) describe the practical value of the GHS Index; (2) present potential use cases to help policymakers and practitioners maximise the utility of the tool; (3) discuss the importance of scoring and ranking; (4) describe the robust methodology underpinning country scores and ranks; (5) highlight the GHS Index’s emphasis on transparency and (6) articulate caveats for users wishing to use GHS Index data in health security research, policymaking and practice.

Authors
Lane Warmbrod
Elizabeth E. Cameron
Jessica Bell
Priya Bapat
Michael Paterra
Catherine Machalaba
Indira Nath
Lawrence O. Gostin
Wilmot James
Dylan George
Simo Nikkari
Ernesto Gozzer
Oyewale Tomori
Issa Makumbi

A checklist to improve health system resilience to infectious disease outbreaks and natural hazards

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BMJ Global Health
Publication Type
Article

Recent infectious disease outbreaks, including the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have demonstrated the critical importance of resilient health systems in safeguarding global health security. Importantly, the human, economic and political tolls of these crises are being amplified by health systems’ inabilities to respond quickly and effectively. Improving resilience within health systems can build on pre-existing strengths to enhance the readiness of health system actors to respond to crises, while also maintaining core functions. Using data gathered from a scoping literature review, interviews with key informants and from stakeholders who attended a workshop held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, we developed a Health System Resilience Checklist (‘the checklist’). The aim of the checklist is to measure the specific capacities, capabilities and processes that health systems need in order to ensure resilience in the face of both infectious disease outbreaks and natural hazards. The checklist is intended to be adapted and used in a broad set of countries as a component of ongoing processes to ensure that health actors, institutions and populations can mount an effective response to infectious disease outbreaks and natural hazards while also maintaining core healthcare services. The checklist is an important first step in improving health system resilience to these threats, but additional research and resources will be necessary to further refine and prioritise the checklist items and to pilot the checklist with the frontline health facilities that would be using it. This will help ensure its feasibility and durability for the long-term within the health systems strengthening and health security fields.

Authors
Harunor Rashid
Shehrin Shaila Mahmood

Applying an Innovative Model of Disaster Resilience at the Neighborhood Level: The COPEWELL New York City Experience

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Public Health Reports
Publication Type
Article

Community resilience is a community’s ability to maintain functioning (ie, delivery of services) during and after a disaster event. The Composite of Post-Event Well-Being (COPEWELL) is a system dynamics model of community resilience that predicts a community’s disaster-specific functioning over time. We explored COPEWELL’s usefulness as a practice-based tool for understanding community resilience and to engage partners in identifying resilience-strengthening strategies. In 2014, along with academic partners, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene organized an interdisciplinary work group that used COPEWELL to advance cross-sector engagement, design approaches to understand and strengthen community resilience, and identify local data to explore COPEWELL implementation at neighborhood levels. The authors conducted participant interviews and collected shared experiences to capture information on lessons learned. The COPEWELL model led to an improved understanding of community resilience among agency members and community partners. Integration and enhanced alignment of efforts among preparedness, disaster resilience, and community development emerged. The work group identified strategies to strengthen resilience. Searches of neighborhood-level data sets and mapping helped prioritize communities that are vulnerable to disasters (eg, medically vulnerable, socially isolated, low income). These actions increased understanding of available data, identified data gaps, and generated ideas for future data collection. The COPEWELL model can be used to drive an understanding of resilience, identify key geographic areas at risk during and after a disaster, spur efforts to build on local metrics, and result in innovative interventions that integrate and align efforts among emergency preparedness, community development, and broader public health initiatives.

Authors
Catherine C. Slemp
Sarah Sisco
Marc C. Jean
Munerah S. Ahmed
Monika Erös-Sarnyai
et al.
The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination report cover

The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Planning Recommendations Informed by Design Thinking and the Social, Behavioral, and Communication Sciences

Publication Type
Report

This report considers human factors in relation to future vaccines against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), drawing on insights from design thinking and the social, behavioral, and communication sciences. It provides recommendations—directed to both US policymakers and practitioners, as well as nontraditional partners new to public health’s mission of vaccination—on how to advance public understanding of, access to, and acceptance of vaccines that protect against COVID-19.

Authors
Emily Brunson
Rex Long
Ali Ruth
Marc Trotochaud
on behalf of the Working Group on Readying Populations for COVID-19 Vaccine

State by state implementation of Zika virus testing guidance in the United States in 2017 and 2018

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Preventive Medicine Reports
Publication Type
Article

In 2015 and 2016, outbreaks of the Zika virus began occurring in the Americas and the Caribbean. Following the introduction of this new threat, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued testing guidance for the nation’s state public health laboratories. We collected and analyzed testing guidance for all fifty states and the District of Columbia for both 2017 and 2018. In both years, state testing guidance was consistent for men and non-pregnant women, but there was notable variation in guidance for pregnant women. In addition, there were changes between the two years as testing algorithms shifted toward guidance that recommended testing in more limited circumstances. States adopted large, or complete, portions of CDC testing guidance, but were not required to conform completely, 33% of states had identical guidance in 2017 and 49% in 2018. Some of these trends, such as specifying that testing be contingent on travel, or sexual contact with an individual who has recently traveled, to an area where the Zika virus was circulating, presents a potential deficiency in the United States surveillance capacity. Understanding variations in state testing guidance enables public health professionals to better understand ongoing surveillance. This analysis provides insight into the testing practices for the various states across the country. Better understanding of how states approach Zika testing, and how that testing changes over time, will increase the public health community’s ability to interpret future Zika case counts.

Authors
Marc Trotochaud
Carolina I. Andrada

The SPARS Pandemic 2025-2028: A Futuristic Scenario to Facilitate Medical Countermeasure Communication

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Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communication Research
Publication Type
Article

Effective communication about medical countermeasures—including drugs, devices and biologics—is often critical in emergency situations. Such communication, however, does not just happen. It must be planned and prepared for. One mechanism to develop communication strategies is through the use of prospective scenarios, which allow readers the opportunity to rehearse responses while also weighing the implications of their actions. This article describes the development of such a scenario: The SPARS Pandemic 2025-2028. Steps in this process included deciding on a timeframe, identifying likely critical uncertainties, and then using this framework to construct a storyline covering both the response and recovery phases of a fictional emergency event. Lessons learned from the scenario development and how the scenario can be used to improve communication are also discussed.

Authors

Vector control in Zika-affected communities: Local views on community engagement and public health ethics during outbreaks

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Preventive Medicine Reports
Publication Type
Article

Aerial spraying of products to kill larvae or adult mosquitoes is a public health measure used to control vector-borne diseases. In some outbreaks, the intervention has evoked controversy and community resistance. This study evaluated how local opinion leaders in US localities affected by Zika think about community engagement in public health policies for outbreak response. In December 2017 through March 2018, 4 focus groups were convened in Houston, TX, New Orleans, LA, Miami, FL, and Brooklyn, NY. They discussed a hypothetical scenario that featured vector control by aerial spraying. Participants (N = 20) more readily accepted this vector control method under 4 conditions: They were informed of alternatives, benefits, and risks for human health and the environment. Public health claims were backed by objective evidence and an authority figure genuinely working in the community’s interests. They received timely notice about how to mitigate toxin exposure. And, aerial spraying helped to protect vulnerable individuals. The community engagement requirements of the local opinion leaders resonate with core principles of recent public health ethics frameworks: namely, personal autonomy, transparency, reasonableness, and solidarity. Participants foresaw problems with community consent in an era of growing social media use and mistrust in governmental and scientific authority. They also debated whether health authorities should use moral-based arguments, in addition to science-based ones, to communicate aerial spraying’s risks and benefits.

Authors
Laura E. Pechta
Dale A. Rose
Keri M. Lubell
Michelle N. Podgornik

What makes health systems resilient against infectious disease outbreaks and natural hazards? Results from a scoping review

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BMC Public Health
Publication Type
Article

The 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak was a wake-up call regarding the critical importance of resilient health systems. Fragile health systems can become overwhelmed during public health crises, further exacerbating the human, economic, and political toll. Important work has been done to describe the general attributes of a health system resilient to these crises, and the next step will be to identify the specific capacities that health systems need to develop and maintain to achieve resiliency.

Authors
Michael Snyder
Ana Lapascu
Jon Souleles
Carolina I. Andrada

Establishing a theoretical foundation for measuring global health security: a scoping review

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BMC Public Health
Publication Type
Article

Since the 2014–2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic, the concept of measuring health security capacity has become increasingly important within the broader context of health systems-strengthening, enhancing responses to public health emergencies, and reducing global catastrophic biological risks. Efforts to regularly and sustainably track the evolution of health security capabilities and capacities over time – while also accounting for political, social, and environmental risks – could help countries progress toward eliminating sources of health insecurity. We sought to aggregate evidence-based principles that capture a country’s baseline public health and healthcare capabilities, its health security system performance before and during infectious disease crises, and its broader social, political, security, and ecological risk environments.

Authors
Elizabeth E. Cameron
Michelle Nalabandian
Beenish Pervaiz
Report cover: Risk Communication Strategies

Risk Communication Strategies for the Very Worst of Cases

Publication Type
Report

In 2017-18, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security conducted a multiphase research project to help inform the development of a strategic approach for communicating about global catastrophic biological risks (GCBRs). In brief, we define a GCBR as a biological development that could adversely affect the human species as a whole or radically change the course of human civilization—for instance, a severe pandemic involving a naturally occurring or deliberately engineered pathogen. GCBRs are an emerging concern among a discrete set of scientists and organizations located principally in Europe and the United States. To conceive and implement activities necessary to prevent or respond to biological threats of a global scale will require effective communication of the issue’s importance—internationally—to a range of people with knowledge, influence, and control of resources.

Authors
Christopher Hurtado
Kirsten Moore-Sheeley
Michael Snyder