Special Issue "The COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe: Response to Challenges"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Giovanni Gabutti
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
Interests: vaccine-preventable infectious diseases; epidemiology; vaccines; immunization; prevention; public health
Prof. Dr. Andrea Orsi
Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, 16132 Genoa, Italy
Interests: vaccine-preventable infectious diseases; clinical and molecular epidemiology; prevention; surveillance and control of HAI
Prof. Dr. Armando Stefanati
Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
Interests: biohazard of healthcare workers (HCWs); immunization of HCWs; health surveillance of HCWs; epidemiology; vaccine-preventable infectious diseases; chronic diseases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue entitled: “COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe: Response to Challenges” that will be published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, open-access journal in the area of public health. More information about the journal can be found at https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a global health emergency involving the health authorities of all countries in an attempt to fight this new pandemic.

Many aspects of the infection have been studied and available epidemiological, clinical and impact data have been used to design preventive interventions. Unfortunately, the spreading of the virus is ongoing, and the impact of the infection is still growing, despite the application of very restrictive preventive interventions. What is more, that impact is huge, both from a clinical and economic point of view.

Healthcare workers, who operate on the front line, and as such particularly at risk, have been greatly involved in terms of infection and unfortunately also of deaths.

Close observance of the rules issued by WHO and other international bodies is essential, as it is pivotal to understand in more detail the dynamics of virus spreading, to identify new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, and to develop in a reasonably quick time a vaccine.

This Special Issue aims to publish evidence and observations in the field, regarding but not limited to: microbiological aspects; epidemiology; clinical aspects; case management; lab diagnosis; immunology; therapeutic options; vaccine design and development; public health approach; preventive measures; communication.

We welcome the submission of reviews, original research articles, short communications, systematic reviews, and case studies targeting any of these core research questions, as the main goal of this Special Issue is to address some of the core research questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. High quality submissions from scholars based in Europe will be considered for a publication cost waiver after completion of the manuscript review process and as recommended by the Editorial Board.

Prof. Giovanni Gabutti
Prof. Andrea Orsi
Prof. Armando Stefanati
Prof. Jon Øyvind Odland
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • SARS-CoV-2
  • COVID-19
  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Clinical aspects
  • Therapeutic options
  • Lab diagnosis
  • Preventive measures
  • Case management

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Italian Public Health Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Case Report from the Field, Insights and Challenges for the Department of Prevention
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103666 - 22 May 2020
Abstract
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is rapidly progressing globally, and Italy, as one of the main pandemic hotspots, may provide some hard lessons for other countries. In this paper, we summarize the current organizational capacity and provide a pragmatic and narrative account of [...] Read more.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is rapidly progressing globally, and Italy, as one of the main pandemic hotspots, may provide some hard lessons for other countries. In this paper, we summarize the current organizational capacity and provide a pragmatic and narrative account of strategies and activities implemented by the Department of Prevention (Dipartimento di Prevenzione)—the regional entity of the Local Health Authority of the Italian National Health Service in charge of public health—since the beginning of the outbreak. We conduct a preliminary analysis of general strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of the response strategies from a local perspective. Furthermore, we provide firsthand insights on future directions and priorities to manage this unprecedented pandemic. Our case report gives a qualitative view of the healthcare response, based on the experience of frontline professionals, with the aim to generate hypotheses about factors which may promote or hinder the prevention and management of a pandemic locally. We highlight the importance of a public health approach for responding to COVID-19 and reshaping healthcare systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe: Response to Challenges)
Open AccessArticle
Distribution of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic and Its Monthly Forecast Based on Seasonal Climate Patterns
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3493; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103493 - 17 May 2020
Abstract
This paper investigates whether the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic could have been favored by specific weather conditions and other factors. It is found that the 2020 winter weather in the region of Wuhan (Hubei, Central China)—where the virus first [...] Read more.
This paper investigates whether the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic could have been favored by specific weather conditions and other factors. It is found that the 2020 winter weather in the region of Wuhan (Hubei, Central China)—where the virus first broke out in December and spread widely from January to February 2020—was strikingly similar to that of the Northern Italian provinces of Milan, Brescia and Bergamo, where the pandemic broke out from February to March. The statistical analysis was extended to cover the United States of America, which overtook Italy and China as the country with the highest number of confirmed COronaVIrus Disease 19 (COVID-19) cases, and then to the entire world. The found correlation patterns suggest that the COVID-19 lethality significantly worsens (4 times on average) under weather temperatures between 4 °C and 12 °C and relative humidity between 60% and 80%. Possible co-factors such as median population age and air pollution were also investigated suggesting an important influence of the former but not of the latter, at least, on a synoptic scale. Based on these results, specific isotherm world maps were generated to locate, month by month, the world regions that share similar temperature ranges. From February to March, the 4–12 °C isotherm zone extended mostly from Central China toward Iran, Turkey, West-Mediterranean Europe (Italy, Spain and France) up to the United State of America, optimally coinciding with the geographic regions most affected by the pandemic from February to March. It is predicted that in the spring, as the weather gets warm, the pandemic will likely worsen in northern regions (United Kingdom, Germany, East Europe, Russia and North America) while the situation will likely improve in the southern regions (Italy and Spain). However, in autumn, the pandemic could come back and affect the same regions again. The Tropical Zone and the entire Southern Hemisphere, but in restricted colder southern regions, could avoid a strong pandemic because of the sufficiently warm weather during the entire year and because of the lower median age of their population. Google-Earth-Pro interactive-maps covering the entire world are provided as supplementary files. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe: Response to Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
Understanding Knowledge and Behaviors Related to CoViD–19 Epidemic in Italian Undergraduate Students: The EPICO Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3481; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103481 - 16 May 2020
Abstract
Background: On February 2020, the novel coronavirus (2019−nCoV) epidemic began in Italy. In order to contain the spread of the virus, the Italian government adopted emergency measures nationwide, including closure of schools and universities, workplaces and subsequently lockdown. This survey was carried out [...] Read more.
Background: On February 2020, the novel coronavirus (2019−nCoV) epidemic began in Italy. In order to contain the spread of the virus, the Italian government adopted emergency measures nationwide, including closure of schools and universities, workplaces and subsequently lockdown. This survey was carried out among Italian undergraduates to explore their level of knowledge about the epidemic and the behaviors they adopted during the lockdown. Methods: An electronic questionnaire was administered to the students attending three Italian universities. Results: A good level of knowledge about the epidemic and its control was registered in the sample, mainly among students attending life sciences degree courses. The majority of the students did not modify their diet and smoking habits, while a great part of the sample reported a decrease in physical activity (PA). Conclusions: Students from life sciences courses showed a higher awareness regarding the infection and the control measures. The lockdown caused an important reduction of PA. Preventive interventions should transform the restrictive measures also as an opportunity to improve lifestyle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe: Response to Challenges)

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Open AccessBrief Report
The Expression and Polymorphism of Entry Machinery for COVID-19 in Human: Juxtaposing Population Groups, Gender, and Different Tissues
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3433; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103433 - 14 May 2020
Abstract
(1) Background: Combating viral disease outbreaks has doubtlessly been one of the major public health challenges for the 21st century. (2) Methods: The host entry machinery required for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was examined for the gene expression profiles and polymorphism. (3) [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Combating viral disease outbreaks has doubtlessly been one of the major public health challenges for the 21st century. (2) Methods: The host entry machinery required for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was examined for the gene expression profiles and polymorphism. (3) Results: Lung, kidney, small intestine, and salivary glands were among the tissues which expressed the entry machinery coding genes Ace2, Tmprss2, CtsB, and CtsL. The genes had no significant expression changes between males and females. The four human population groups of Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Americans had specific and also a common pool of rare variants for the X-linked locus of ACE2 receptor. Several specific and common ACE2 variants including S19P, I21T/V, E23K, A25T, K26R, T27A, E35D/K, E37K, Y50F, N51D/S, M62V, N64K, K68E, F72V, E75G, M82I, T92I, Q102P, G220S, H239Q, G326E, E329G, G352V, D355N, H378R, Q388L, P389H, E467K, H505R, R514G/*, and Y515C were of the utmost importance to the viral entry and infection. The variants of S19P, I21T, K26R, T27A, E37K, N51D, N64K, K68E, F72V, M82I, G326E, H378R, Q388L, and P389H also had significant differences in frequencies among the population groups. Most interestingly, the analyses revealed that more than half of the variants can exist in males, i.e., as hemizygous. (4) Conclusions: The rare variants of human ACE2 seem to be one of the determinant factors associated with fitness in the battle against SARS viruses. The hemizygous viral-entry booster variants of ACE2 describe the higher SARS-CoV-2 mortality rate in males. This is also supported by the lack of gender bias for the gene expression profiles of entry machinery. A personalized medicine strategy is conceived for isolating high-risk individuals in epidemic circumstances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe: Response to Challenges)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The Epidemiological Characteristics of COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe
Authors: G. Gabutti 1, E. D’Anchera 2, F. De Motoli 2, F. Sandri 2, M. Savio 2, M.V. Toffoletto 2 and A. Stefanati 1
Affiliations: 1 Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; 2 Post-graduate School of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy
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