‘Road map’ for a stronger pandemic response

A new road map for living with COVID, produced by some of the most prominent national experts on the disease, emphasizes boosting indoor air quality, helping people with long COVID, and broadening the nation’s focus to other respiratory diseases.

The road map, which includes more than 250 recommendations, was issued by a team of former COVID advisers to President Joe Biden and dozens of other experts. Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was one of the co-authors of the road map. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, and Gregory Wagner, adjunct professor of environmental health, also contributed.

“We thought that the road map was really important at this time because COVID-19 is here to stay,” said Corbett. “We really have to start thinking about what the next normal looks like, and how we can live productively in society with a new respiratory virus.”

Corbett said that the 50 or so experts from various fields who contributed to the road map wanted to help guide policy moving forward by outlining the critical steps that need to be taken in the next 9-12 months “to get to the point where we have some level of normalcy.”

The authors argue that the White House should take additional measures to combat the coronavirus and to reduce the risk of other infectious diseases, with the aim of avoiding the disruptions to society that have characterized the past two years, according to a March 7, 2022 article in the Washington Post.

The road map goes further than a plan issued previously by the White House, according to the article. For example, it urges that long COVID research be broadened and sped up, that those with long COVID receive disability benefits, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention create an official count of cases, and that a task force for long COVID be formed.

The road map also lists a number of steps to improve air quality in indoor spaces, since evidence suggests that poor ventilation is linked with the spread of the coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses. Recommendations include requiring updated standards and building codes, publicly posting air-quality results for individual buildings, and providing subsidies to boost indoor air quality for low-income communities and households.

Corbett also noted the importance of the White House’s “Test to Treat” initiative, under which a person who tests positive for COVID-19 would receive a prescription from their health care provider for treatment and have that prescription filled all in one location. And she said that understanding obstacles to vaccine uptake and communicating effectively about the benefits of vaccines and boosters will continue to be critical in the months ahead.

Read the Washington Post article: White House must go further on new pandemic response, say former Biden advisers, outside experts