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Special Issue "The COVID-19 Pandemic: Reshaping Public Health Policy Response Envisioning Health as a Common Good"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2022) | Viewed by 8551

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Paolo Lauriola
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
International Society Doctors for the Environment, 4019 Basel, Switzerland
Interests: environmental epidemiology; public health; refugees and migrants; education; ethics
Dr. Domenico Vito
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ResilenceLab, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
Interests: urban planning; sustainable development; climate change and sustainability; GIS for epidemiology and public health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic is primarily a health crisis, but it clearly extends to many aspects such as economy, trading, inequalities, environment, ethics. Firstly, it showed  how health systems throughout the world were unprepared in tackling such a dramatic, but predicted emergency.

The pandemic has forced governments, economies, research and health systems to challenge their limits in terms of preparedness and response. Still, the pandemic represents an opportunity for governments to tackle underlying problems besetting health systems and renew themselves through more inclusive public health policies and best-practices.

The COVID-19 crisis urgently calls to see health as a common and global good; hence requiring a broader perspective.

Thus, Planetary One Health approach is getting the lead for environmental-health communicable diseases control systems by integrating ecosystem changes monitoring.

Socio-economic drivers must also be taken into proper account. To be more resilient to the coming crisis, academics, entrepreneurs and policy makers should promote  theoretical work providing the means to global economies to adopt “multiple forms of value and political work that embeds these theories in societal institutions” [1]. Such a need  must consider  the urgency of the impending Climate Crisis, as “Nature is sending us a message” [2] by means of COVID-19.

References

  1. Mair, S. Neoliberal economics, planetary health, and the COVID-19 pandemic: A Marxist ecofeminist analysis Lancet Planet Health 2020, 4, e588–e596. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30252-7.
  2. Andersen, I. Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, March 2020. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief (accessed on 22 February 2021).

Dr. Paolo Lauriola
Dr. Domenico Vito
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2500 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

  • COVID-19
  • public health policies
  • climatic crisis and health professionals
  • ecological transition
  • economic transition
  • cultural transition
  • democratic transition
  • One Health
  • Planetary Health
  • global health

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
A New Interactive Tool to Visualize and Analyze COVID-19 Data: The PERISCOPE Atlas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(15), 9136; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159136 - 26 Jul 2022
Viewed by 319
Abstract
Since the start of the 21st century, the world has not confronted a more serious threat to global public health than the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments initially took radical actions in response to the pandemic to avoid catastrophic collapse of their health care [...] Read more.
Since the start of the 21st century, the world has not confronted a more serious threat to global public health than the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments initially took radical actions in response to the pandemic to avoid catastrophic collapse of their health care systems, government policies have also had numerous knock-on socioeconomic, political, behavioral and economic effects. Researchers, thus, have a unique opportunity to forward our collective understanding of the modern world and to respond to the emergency situation in a way that optimizes resources and maximizes results. The PERISCOPE project, funded by the European Commission, brings together a large number of research institutions to collect data and carry out research to understand all the impacts of the pandemic, and create predictive models that can be used to optimize intervention strategies and better face possible future health emergencies. One of the main tangible outcomes of this project is the PERISCOPE Atlas: an interactive tool that allows to visualize and analyze COVID-19-related health, economic and sociopolitical data, featuring a WebGIS and several dashboards. This paper describes the first release of the Atlas, listing the data sources used, the main functionalities and the future development. Full article
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Article
Social Network Analysis of COVID-19 Sentiments: 10 Metropolitan Cities in Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 7720; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19137720 - 23 Jun 2022
Viewed by 546
Abstract
The pandemic spread rapidly across Italy, putting the region’s health system on the brink of collapse, and generating concern regarding the government’s capacity to respond to the needs of patients considering isolation measures. This study developed a sentiment analysis using millions of Twitter [...] Read more.
The pandemic spread rapidly across Italy, putting the region’s health system on the brink of collapse, and generating concern regarding the government’s capacity to respond to the needs of patients considering isolation measures. This study developed a sentiment analysis using millions of Twitter data during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 10 metropolitan cities in Italy’s (1) north: Milan, Venice, Turin, Bologna; (2) central: Florence, Rome; (3) south: Naples, Bari; and (4) islands: Palermo, Cagliari. Questions addressed are as follows: (1) How did tweet-related sentiments change over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) How did sentiments change when lagged with policy shifts and/or specific events? Findings show an assortment of differences and connections across Twitter sentiments (fear, anger, and joy) based on policy measures and geographies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results can be used by policy makers to quantify the satisfactory level of positive/negative acceptance of decision makers and identify important topics related to COVID-19 policy measures, which can be useful for imposing geographically varying lockdowns and protective measures using historical data. Full article
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Article
Dual-Path Effect of Mortality Salience Induced by COVID-19 on Food Safety Behavior in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 6100; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19106100 - 17 May 2022
Viewed by 533
Abstract
During the pandemic, the mortality salience of COVID-19 has affected everyone. The public is extremely sensitive to food safety, especially cold chain food and imported food. This research is based on the terror management theory, protective motivation theory, and self-construal theory. It proposes [...] Read more.
During the pandemic, the mortality salience of COVID-19 has affected everyone. The public is extremely sensitive to food safety, especially cold chain food and imported food. This research is based on the terror management theory, protective motivation theory, and self-construal theory. It proposes an integrated dual-path framework to explore the different mechanisms that mortality salience has on food safety behavior. The result of three experiments verified our conjectures. First, mortality salience positively affects individuals’ food safety behavior. More importantly, we found the dual-path mechanism that underlies the effect, that is, the mediating of self-protective motivation and prosocial motivation. In addition, different self-construals make the confirmed effect clear. These findings provide implications for the government to protect public food safety and health. Full article
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Article
COVID-19 in Malaysia: Descriptive Epidemiologic Characteristics of the First Wave
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 3828; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19073828 - 23 Mar 2022
Viewed by 697
Abstract
This study aimed to describe the characteristics of COVID-19 cases and close contacts during the first wave of COVID-19 in Malaysia (23 January 2020 to 26 February 2020), and to analyse the reasons why the outbreak did not continue to spread and lessons [...] Read more.
This study aimed to describe the characteristics of COVID-19 cases and close contacts during the first wave of COVID-19 in Malaysia (23 January 2020 to 26 February 2020), and to analyse the reasons why the outbreak did not continue to spread and lessons that can be learnt from this experience. Characteristics of the cases and close contacts, spatial spread, epidemiological link, and timeline of the cases were examined. An extended SEIR model was developed using several parameters such as the average number of contacts per day per case, the proportion of close contact traced per day and the mean daily rate at which infectious cases are isolated to determine the basic reproduction number (R0) and trajectory of cases. During the first wave, a total of 22 cases with 368 close contacts were traced, identified, tested, quarantine and isolated. Due to the effective and robust outbreak control measures put in place such as early case detection, active screening, extensive contact tracing, testing and prompt isolation/quarantine, the outbreak was successfully contained and controlled. The SEIR model estimated the R0 at 0.9 which further supports the decreasing disease dynamics and early termination of the outbreak. As a result, there was a 11-day gap (free of cases) between the first and second wave which indicates that the first wave was not linked to the second wave. Full article
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Article
Food Insecurity, Safety Nets, and Coping Strategies during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Multi-Country Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 9997; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18199997 - 23 Sep 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1394
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected food security across the world. As governments respond in different ways both with regards to containing the pandemic and addressing food insecurity, in parallel detailed datasets are being collected and analysed. To date, literature addressing food insecurity during [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected food security across the world. As governments respond in different ways both with regards to containing the pandemic and addressing food insecurity, in parallel detailed datasets are being collected and analysed. To date, literature addressing food insecurity during the pandemic, using these datasets, has tended to focus on individual countries. By contrast, this paper provides the first detailed multi-country cross-sectional snapshot of the social dimensions of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic across nine African countries (Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda). Econometric analysis reveals that female-headed households, the poor, and the less-formally educated, appear to suffer more in terms of food insecurity during this global pandemic. Importantly, our findings show that the negative consequences of the pandemic are disproportionately higher for lower-income households and those who had to borrow to make ends meet rather than relying on savings; impacts are country-specific; and there is considerable spatial heterogeneity within country food insecurity, suggesting that tailored policies will be required. These nine countries employ both food and cash safety nets, with the evidence suggesting that, at least when these data were collected, cash safety nets have been slightly more effective at reducing food insecurity. Our results provide a baseline that can be used by governments to help design and implement tailored policies to address food insecurity. Our findings can also be used as lessons to reshape policies to tackle the heterogeneous impacts of climate change. Full article
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Review

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Review
The Advantages of the Zero-COVID-19 Strategy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8767; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148767 - 19 Jul 2022
Viewed by 610
Abstract
Introduction: To curb the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe have adopted either a mitigation or anelimination policy, such as the zero-COVID-19 strategy. However, further research is needed to systematically investigate the advantages of the zero-COVID-19 strategy in the literature. To bridge [...] Read more.
Introduction: To curb the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe have adopted either a mitigation or anelimination policy, such as the zero-COVID-19 strategy. However, further research is needed to systematically investigate the advantages of the zero-COVID-19 strategy in the literature. To bridge the research gap, this study examines the zero-COVID-19 strategy in terms of its advantages as a global anti-pandemic framework. Methods: A literature review was conducted in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Scopus to locate academic articles that discussed the advantages of the zero-COVID-19 strategy. Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis approach was adopted to guide the data analysis process. Results: The findings of our study show that the advantages of the zero-COVID-19 strategy range from short-term (e.g., limited virus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths), to medium-term (e.g., reduced presence of other infectious diseases), and long-term (e.g., low incidence of long COVID-19). While local residents mainly leverage these advantages, they also impact the global community (e.g., stable global supply of essentials, such as COVID-19 vaccines). Conclusions: COVID-19 is catastrophic, yet controllable. Our study examined the advantages of the zero-COVID-19 strategy from a nuanced perspective and discussed how these advantages benefit both the local and the global community in pandemic control and management. Future studies could investigate the shortcomings of the zero-COVID-19 strategy, especially its unintended consequences, such as adverse impacts on vulnerable populations’ mental health, so that society could more efficiently, economically, and empathetically capitalize on the potential of the zero-COVID-19 strategy for the betterment of personal and public health. Full article
Review
Rigorous Policy-Making Amid COVID-19 and Beyond: Literature Review and Critical Insights
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12447; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312447 - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1099
Abstract
Policies shape society. Public health policies are of particular importance, as they often dictate matters in life and death. Accumulating evidence indicates that good-intentioned COVID-19 policies, such as shelter-in-place measures, can often result in unintended consequences among vulnerable populations such as nursing home [...] Read more.
Policies shape society. Public health policies are of particular importance, as they often dictate matters in life and death. Accumulating evidence indicates that good-intentioned COVID-19 policies, such as shelter-in-place measures, can often result in unintended consequences among vulnerable populations such as nursing home residents and domestic violence victims. Thus, to shed light on the issue, this study aimed to identify policy-making processes that have the potential of developing policies that could induce optimal desirable outcomes with limited to no unintended consequences amid the pandemic and beyond. Methods: A literature review was conducted in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Scopus to answer the research question. To better structure the review and the subsequent analysis, theoretical frameworks such as the social ecological model were adopted to guide the process. Results: The findings suggested that: (1) people-centered; (2) artificial intelligence (AI)-powered; (3) data-driven, and (4) supervision-enhanced policy-making processes could help society develop policies that have the potential to yield desirable outcomes with limited unintended consequences. To leverage these strategies’ interconnectedness, the people-centered, AI-powered, data-driven, and supervision-enhanced (PADS) model of policy making was subsequently developed. Conclusions: The PADS model can develop policies that have the potential to induce optimal outcomes and limit or eliminate unintended consequences amid COVID-19 and beyond. Rather than serving as a definitive answer to problematic COVID-19 policy-making practices, the PADS model could be best understood as one of many promising frameworks that could bring the pandemic policy-making process more in line with the interests of societies at large; in other words, more cost-effectively, and consistently anti-COVID and pro-human. Full article
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Other

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Opinion
“Immuni” and the National Health System: Lessons Learnt from the COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing in Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(12), 7529; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19127529 - 20 Jun 2022
Viewed by 537
Abstract
Since the early stage of the current pandemic, digital contact tracing (DCT) through mobile phone apps, called “Immuni”, has been introduced to complement manual contact tracing in Italy. Until 31 December 2021, Immuni identified 44,880 COVID-19 cases, which corresponds to less than 1% [...] Read more.
Since the early stage of the current pandemic, digital contact tracing (DCT) through mobile phone apps, called “Immuni”, has been introduced to complement manual contact tracing in Italy. Until 31 December 2021, Immuni identified 44,880 COVID-19 cases, which corresponds to less than 1% of total COVID-19 cases reported in Italy in the same period (5,886,411). Overall, Immuni generated 143,956 notifications. Although the initial download of the Immuni app represented an early interest in the new tool, Immuni has had little adoption across the Italian population, and the recent increase in its download is likely to be related to the mandatory Green Pass certification for conducting most daily activities that can be obtained via the application. Therefore, Immuni failed as a support tool for the contact tracing system. Other European experiences seem to show similar limitations in the use of DTC, leaving open questions about its effectiveness, although in theory, contact tracing could allow useful means of “proximity tracking”. Full article
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Opinion
Building the Momentum for A Stronger Pharmaceutical System in Africa
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(6), 3313; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063313 - 11 Mar 2022
Viewed by 632
Abstract
Despite impressive progress, nearly two billion people worldwide have no access to essential medicines. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed Africa’s vulnerability due to its reliance on imports for most vaccines, medicines, and other health product needs. The vaccine manufacturing is complex and requires massive [...] Read more.
Despite impressive progress, nearly two billion people worldwide have no access to essential medicines. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed Africa’s vulnerability due to its reliance on imports for most vaccines, medicines, and other health product needs. The vaccine manufacturing is complex and requires massive financial investments, with global, regional, and national regulatory structures introducing consistent and urgent reforms to assure the quality and safety of medicines. In 2020, there were approximately 600 pharmaceutical manufacturers in Africa, 80% of which were concentrated in eight countries: Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. Only 4 countries had more than 50 manufacturers, while 22 countries had no local production. Out of the 600, around 25% were multinational companies. Africa is equally affected by modest scaled capacities substantially engaging in packaging and labelling, and occasionally fill and finish steps, facing criticalities in terms of solvent domestic markets. This article discusses the challenges in the development of a local pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa and reflects on the importance of the momentum for strengthening the local medical production capacity in the continent as a critical opportunity for advancing universal health coverage (UHC). Full article
Brief Report
Characterizing the Landscape of Safety Net Programs and Policies in California during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2747; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052747 - 26 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1018
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted rapid and innovative policymaking around the world at the national, regional, and local levels. There has been limited work to systematically document and characterize new and expanded local U.S. pandemic-era policies, which is imperative to better understand the policy [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted rapid and innovative policymaking around the world at the national, regional, and local levels. There has been limited work to systematically document and characterize new and expanded local U.S. pandemic-era policies, which is imperative to better understand the policy variation and resulting health impacts during this unprecedented time. California, the most populous U.S. state, provides a case example of a particularly active policy response. The aim of this Brief Report is to summarize the creation and potential areas of application of a newly created publicly available California- and US-based COVID-19 policy database. We generated an extensive list of California and US policies that were modified or created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From July–November 2021, we searched current and historical California and federal government websites, press releases, social media, and news sources and recorded detailed information on these policies, including coverage dates, eligibility criteria, and benefit amounts. This comprehensive dataset includes 39 public health, economic, housing, and safety net programs and policies implemented at both federal and state levels and provides details of the complex and multifaceted policy landscape in California from March 2020 to November 2021. Our database is publicly available. Future investigators can leverage the information systematically recorded in this database to rigorously assess the short- and long-term effects of these policies, which will in turn inform future preparedness response plans in California and beyond. Full article
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