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Promoting international and rapid mortality monitoring in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Xiao, Bocheng 


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, media outlets and governments have focused on data detailing confirmed cases alongside deaths in the assessment of its impact. How COVID-19’s impact has varied among countries can give clues on the best policies to take against pandemics and therefore are essential to future pandemic planning. Yet, figures from testing are strongly skewed by the will and capability of different countries to test their populaces for COVID-19. Instead, excess mortality is likely essential as part of any accurate picture of the pandemic’s impact, capturing direct effects of disease alongside possible effects from policies made to tackle COVID-19, and is also important in evaluating the transition of COVID-19 to an endemic disease. An international dashboard, similar to those for confirmed cases/deaths could compel more nations to hand over data and ensure the excess mortality data is known to the public alongside researchers. Funding for rapid mortality surveillance in capable nations, similar to the effort made by South Africa, will also provide near real-time data for policy makers within nations to be decisive in pandemics and other possible extreme mortality events. Where this cannot be done, rudimentary graveyard monitoring has also shown to be capable of tracking pandemic impacts and could be combined with expanded surveys among the ordinary population to help inform the public and hold local governments to account.



COVID-19, Public health, Pandemic preparation, Misinformation

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Cambridge Journal of Science and Policy

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Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange

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