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Pan-European Response to the ImpactS of COVID-19 and future Pandemics and Epidemics

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PERISCOPE (Pan-European Response to the ImpactS of COVID-19 and future Pandemics and Epidemics)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2020-11-01 do 2021-10-31

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been deep and wide. Despite the efforts to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 disease, significant knowledge gaps persist, especially in terms of the economic, social, health system and behavioural impacts of the pandemic, as well on the evaluation of the costs and benefits of alternative government policies. While natural scientists managed to develop new research and shed light on the biologic dynamic of the pandemic, and on the most effective vaccination strategies, socio-economic scientists have been increasingly faced with the need to provide rapid support to urgent policy decisions and non pharmaceutical interventions, with a substantial lack of data and statistical forecast models.
Against this background, the aim of the PERISCOPE project is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the socio-economic, health system and behavioural impacts, leading to new scientific evidence, collected in an integrated data atlas, from which statistical forecast models of the impacts and of their risk of future occurrence can be built, and alternative NPI scenarios can be compared. Besides learning the impacts and risks of the pandemic, the project aims at proposing an overarching response strategy to the pandemic, composed of a set of innovative policies, a holistic policy guidance tool and a plan for a multi-level governance of the pandemic, all developed within a testing and training programme.
The consortium has produced 21 deliverables.
On the operations side, D13.1 and D14.1 set out the consortium strategy for project management and dissemination, D13.2 the project sustainability strategy whereas D12.1 and D12.2 the data management and ethics plan (the latter along with the specification of five ethics requirements: D15,1, D15.2 D15.3 D15.4 D15.5).
On the technical side, D1.1 establishes key foundational aspects concerned with the taxonomy of policy responses and with the mapping of the impact assessments and D4.1 specifies the related data sources, models, and specifications for the Data Atlas, leading to the realisation of the first release of the PERISCOPE Data Atlas (D4.4).
On the knowledge exchange side, first results have been shared in dedicated workshops with policymakers (D8.1) and with health authorities (D8.2) on mental health impacts (D2.1) and on health inequalities, with emphasis on vulnerable groups (D2.2).
On the research and development side, the main deliverables have been: the proposal of a class of forecast methods, based on new Dynamic SIR stochastic models, to learn the evolution of COVID-19 epidemiological counts (D6.1); the proposal of an impact assessment methodology for emerging best practices to respond to the COVID-19 outcomes (D7.1) and the proposal of a new and smart policy governance (D7.2) along with a policy brief (D8.3).

The consortium has published 16 papers in qualified and refereed scientific journals.
WP1: one publication, appeared in “Intereconomics”, concerns the study of the impact of social distancing on economic recession and growth in Europe. A second publication, appeared in “Scientific Reports”, concerns the impact of mobility restrictions on the economic forecasts for Europe.
WP2: a paper in the “Scandinavian Journal of Public Health” examines the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and health behaviours in Swedish adolescents. A different paper, appeared in the "International Journal of Environmental research and Public Health”, considers the mental health of migrants and refugees.
WP3: a paper published in “E-clinical medicine” considers the diagnostic accuracy of a specific antigen testing; and two papers, appeared in “The Lancet -Regional Health Europe” and in “The Lancet” consider the issue of designing an overall European strategy for health care systems. Finally, a paper appeared in “The Lancet- Regional Health Europe” examines the benefits and costs of a low incidence COVID-19 strategy.
WP5: a paper appeared in “Nature Communications” addresses the impact of digital proximity on COVID-19 outbreaks, and a paper appeared in the “Journal of the Royal Society Interface” examines the effects of contact tracing. In the same field of research, a paper appeared in “PLOS one” concerns the impact of mobility restrictions on behaviours and on outbreaks. And a paper appeared in "EPJ data science” looks into the effectiveness of home detection algorithms. Finally, a paper appeared in “Big data and Society” studies the COVID-19 infodemics.
WP6: a paper appeared in “Statistics in Medicine” provides a new forecasting methodology which can take the dependence between consecutive COVID-19 counts into account, leading to a dynamic SIR model that can also be used to compare alternative policy scenarios. Related statistical forecasting models have been proposed in the paper appeared in “BMC public health” and in a further paper in “Statistics in Medicine”.
During its first year of activity, the project has made progresses that have advanced the state of the art research concerning the economic, social, health system and behavioural impacts of the pandemic. Concerning the economic impact, the project has produced original and relevant results in the measurement of the impact of the pandemic and of the mobility restrictions associated to it on the economic cycle. Concerning the social impact, the project has produced original and relevant results in the measurement of the mental health and of the mental health of minority groups. Concerning the impact on health systems, the project has produced original and relevant results on the benefits and costs for the European system of alternative health care policies. Concerning the behavioural impacts, the project has produced original and relevant research concerning the reactions of the population to mobility restrictions, testing policies, contact tracing and vaccination policies, and on the infodemics issue.

In its first year the project has released the first version of its Data Atlas, a large data repository that integrates in an original way covid-19 data with socio-economic data and with policy measures data (collected by a large group of young volunteers in most world countries) mapping them in an original, highly interactive and user friendly way on all European countries. Based on the available data, the project has developed original and relevant research in the field of statistics, aimed at producing dynamic SIR models that can accurately forecast the evolution of the pandemic counts and that can compare alternative NPIs based on their forecasted future impacts. The forecast models have been compared with others within the context of the ECDC forecast hub, obtaining a good comparative predictive performance.

Besides the above mentioned progresses on the “learn” part, the project has made progresses also in terms of the “respond” part, although most of it is expected to be developed in the coming years. The foundations of the “respond” activities have been built, shared and embedded across a collection of deliverables on which future research will draw upon. Similar progresses have been made in the development of the testing and training strategy of the project, and in the development of a very effective dissemination strategy, centred around the project website, and a series of related activities, ranging from newsletters, to podcasts, to social media communication.
Summary description of the PERISCOPE project work