Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

This document aims to collate and present the lessons identified from the public health stakeholders who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to serve as input for countries revising their pandemic or emergency preparedness plans.

A structured review of the response to a public health threat in order to learn lessons for future response should be built into the continuous preparedness cycle of anticipation, response and recovery from an incident. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique example of public health response to a severe incident and lessons should be quickly identified and used for the updating of pandemic preparedness plans. After-Action Reviews (AAR) and In-Action Reviews (IAR), for which ECDC has developed guidance, are valuable tools to assist countries in this process.

During 2021 and 2022, ECDC carried out a number of activities to identify lessons and gather insights from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These activities took the form of an internal exercise with ECDC experts; a review of country lessons reports; Discussions with the Member States and two consultation sessions: an expert consultation on the evaluation and implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and an expert meeting on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons from these activities were collected systematically, initially in nine thematic areas. The information was then further collated into four lesson areas, each one representing a critical component of the response to a health threat:

  • Lesson Area 1: Investment in the public health workforce
  • Lesson Area 2: Preparing for the next public health crisis
  • Lesson Area 3: Risk communication and community engagement
  • Lesson Area 4: Collection and analysis of data and evidence.

This report presents the lessons identified in each of the areas, together with activities and future action where ECDC can contribute. Discussions on the prioritisation of ECDC follow-up actions are ongoing with the countries of the EU/EEA (European Union/European Economic Area) through the ECDC networks and governing bodies.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo


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