Project

Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Council’s use of evidence to support the response to COVID-19 will inform decision making about public health and economic policies that will lead to more humane and equitable futures for all and minimize the devasting effect of the pandemic on poor and vulnerable populations. 

The Issue

The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the vulnerabilities of the world’s public health preparedness and inequalities that exist in our society.  While its profound impact on public health, the economy and society as a whole are not yet known, the pandemic is not discriminating and will affect each person around the world in some way.  However, past health emergencies have shown that those who are most vulnerable to and likely to bear the biggest burden of COVID-19 are those who live in poverty and crowded urban settings, especially women and girls, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities and poor health conditions, and gender minority groups.   

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and suppress the epidemic, global, national and local authorities require timely and relevant data and evidence to inform prevention, control, and mitigation measures. Policy makers will also need evidence on behavioral and biomedical interventions during and after the pandemic to reduce the devasting impact, especially on the most vulnerable communities.

The Progress

The Population Council’s global and in-country epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, public health specialists and researchers, evaluation experts, and data analysts are  producing relevant and timely evidence to support policy makers  to control the spread of coronavirus, evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and mitigation measures, and assess immediate and longer-term health, social and economic effects of the pandemic. 

The Council’s scientists who span health, education, and economic sectors with expertise in clinical and formulation research and research methodologies including randomized controlled trials, household surveys, predictive-modelling, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, and implementation science are partnering with national health ministries, government agencies, and international non-governmental organizations in the U.S., sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Our biomedical laboratories, and regional and national presence, including long-standing global offices in 13 countries, are making it possible to share knowledge, resources and insights to inform the national and international response effort.

To contribute to the immediate COVID-19 pandemic response, we are:

  • Gathering social and behavioral data remotely utilizing innovative mobile technologies and conducting rapid analysis leveraging existing studies of populations in Guatemala, India, Kenya, and Zambia.
  • Conducting secondary data analysis of existing data to draw lessons from the HIV and Ebola epidemics and humanitarian crises to identify best practices for prevention, control and mitigation strategies.  
  • Assessing social and behavioral campaigns and interventions related to public health messages and social distancing to help others understand their level of awareness of COVID-19 symptoms and perceptions of risks and fear among vulnerable populations. 
  • Identifying the needs of vulnerable populations and evidence on what works to guide a response effort that is inclusive and equitable, including women and girls, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities and poor health conditions, and gender minority groups.     
  • Exploring the potential of a protein the Council has developed for HIV prevention to protect the upper respiratory tract from coronaviruses.  Read more about the Council’s work with Griffithsin as an antiretroviral microbicide. 
  • Publishing COVID-19 research in the Council's scholarly journals: Ensuring that the research is rigorous, fast-tracking papers through peer review, and making research openly available. Read more about our commitment to COVID-19 papers.

The Impact

The Council will continue to expand its efforts to support global, national and local health authorities in their COVID-19 response effort by providing key social, behavioral and biomedical data and evidence.  

The pandemic is requiring the world to question how it’s innovating to confront global problems differently, quickly, and more effectively.  The Council’s use of evidence to support the response to COVID-19 will inform decision making about public health and economic policies that will lead to more humane and equitable futures for all and minimize the devasting effect of the pandemic on poor and vulnerable populations. 

Principal Investigator

  • Thoai Ngo Program Director, Poverty, Gender, and Youth, New York
  • Jessica DeMulder Senior Program Manager, Poverty, Gender, and Youth, New York
  • Ashish Bajracharya Deputy Director, Country Strategy & Regional Representative – South and East Asia, Bangladesh

Key Staff (14)

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Journal Articles (8)

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Research Publications (58)

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News & Views (11)

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Multimedia (2)

Data Sets (9)

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