COVINFORM has joined forces with other projects focused on disaster resilience and preparedness. Participating in the PREPARE cluster, COVINFORM is now part of a group of ten projects tackling challenges specifically looking at the preparedness and response phases of crisis management. COVINFORM has published three more bi-monthly reports, a whitepaper on inclusive communication in times of crisis, and has participated in a webinar organised by the NO-FEAR project.
Emergency situations such as terrorism, international trade disputes and global health threats like the COVID-19 pandemic require large-scale planning for preparedness and response in order for countries to be able to cope with unforeseen challenges. The European Commission has recently funded several projects to work on different aspects of crisis management, many with a focus on managing pandemics. While each project has distinct aims and challenges, they all work towards a common goal.
It is for this reason that twelve EU-funded H2020 projects have united to form the PREPARE cluster: PREparedness and resPonse for emergency situAtions in euRopE. Each of the ten projects is tackling challenges specifically looking at the preparedness and response phases of crisis management and working together we aim to achieve stronger results and greater impact for our cause. Together CO-VERSATILE, COVID- X, COVINFORM, EUR3KA, LINKS, NO-FEAR, PANDEM-2, PERISCOPE, PHIRI, RiskPACC, STAMINA and STRATEGY explore synergies, research opportunities and deliver joint activities to maximise impact. Through mutual support, the cluster will strengthen our response to the ongoing crisis and our aim to be better prepared for future health crises.
A Glimpse of the Lessons Learned During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The third bi-monthly report published by COVINFORM partners discusses the global methods for communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons learned from the communication vehicles are witnessed, leading to best practices and guidelines for improved communication in the future. These include, for example, the recognition of a need for risk communication before any crisis outbreak in preparing a continuous risk communication strategy. Once a pandemic or crisis occurs, tangible action must have already occurred to optimize resiliency. Since communication is a vast responsibility and requirement, it is imperative that a structure is nominated to coordinate, plan, and monitor the communication responses. The full report is available online.
Findings on the Governmental Responses in COVINFORM countries
Efficient and timely decision-making is essential when dealing with a health crisis. At the dawn of 2020, international institutions and national governments were up against the unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis. It is not an understatement to say that the established political system was tested during the last year and a half. COVINFORM’s fourth bi-monthly report summarizes the findings of the desk-based research that was conducted for the purposes of WP4 in the COVINFORM Project. An overall view of the Institutional and Government responses in the 14 target countries is provided in conjunction with several visual representations. Governmental bodies had to quickly adapt to the COVID-19 situation and make fundamental changes to their structure, policy making and communication mechanisms while implementing drastic measures to ensure the safety of their populations. The full report is available online.
Using an intersectional lens to understand the unequal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Since its emergence in December 2019, COVID-19 has had far-reaching consequences for societies around the globe. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic go far beyond physical health, impacting individuals’ and communities’ everyday lives and well-being, including in the domains of education, employment, family life, and mental health. However, the pandemic has not affected everybody’s lives in the same way. Indeed, the crisis has unfolded across pre-existing social fault lines in societies, exposing and exacerbating inequalities. COVINFORM’s fifth bi-monthly report provides an introduction to intersectionality theory (the theoretical basis of the project), highlighting its relevance for analyses of the COVID-19 pandemic. It then considers how exposure to COVID-19, as well as risk of severe disease and mortality, are shaped by pre-existing societal structures that give rise to specific inequalities. Subsequently, it presents examples of how responses to the COVID-19 crisis, such as mobility restrictions, school closures, and restrictions on events and businesses, have been experienced
differently depending on people’s positions in society. The full report is available online.
Whitepaper: inclusive communication in times of crisis
Further joining forces with other projects, COVINFORM has defined lessons learned and recommendations for inclusive communication in times of crisis together with the PROACTIVE project. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for communication and information that can be accessed, understood and acted upon by all, including vulnerable groups who may be harder to reach. Due to the pandemic’s long-lasting nature and the fact that it has impacted all of society on a global scale, communication failures have been particularly visible. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an infodemic, i.e., an overwhelming amount of information including misinformation, leading to information overload, uncertainty, and avoidance behaviours. The disproportionate negative impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups, who to different extents have been excluded from accessing the communication designed to protect them, has led stakeholders across society (e.g., researchers and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)) to campaign for inclusive and accessible communication. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for communication and information that can be accessed, understood and acted upon by all, including vulnerable groups who may be harder to reach. Achieving this requires a clear understanding of the information needs and concerns of different groups. Read the full whitepaper and the recommendations online.
Events, presentations and publications
Besides several articles on the COVINFORM blog, project partners have been active in presenting and discussing project outcomes. Some activities are listed below:
- Joint webinar with NO-FEAR | Vaccination refusal among healthcare workers. In this webinar, partners discuss vaccination hesitancy among healthcare workers, delving into the different perspectives that underpin this apprehension. The webinar is available online.
- Presentation “Analysing the impact of COVID-19 governmental response on vulnerable groups” at Empowering R&I collaboration to respond to the socio-economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic | 14.10.2021
- Presentation “There is no one-size-fits-all where there is social inequality” at the 4th COVID-19 Research to Policy Meeting: COVID-19 social and behavioural studies | 20.10.2021
- Webinar: The impact of Covid-19 and community responses | 29 April 2021 – presentation available for download
Partners have also published scientific and other publications:
- Anson S., Bertel D., Edwards J. (2021) Inclusive Communication to Influence Behaviour Change During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Examining Intersecting Vulnerabilities. In: Linkov I., Keenan J.M., Trump B.D. (eds) COVID-19: Systemic Risk and Resilience. Risk, Systems and Decisions. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71587-8_13
- Cerqua, A., Di Stefano, R., Letta, M., & Miccoli, S. (2021). Local mortality estimates during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy. Journal of Population Economics, 1-29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-021-00857-y
- Horizon Magazine: How vulnerable groups were left behind in pandemic response – interview with Jil Molenaar, University of Antwerp
COVID-19, corona, pandemic, disaster preparedness, inclusive communication, vulnerability, vulnerable groups