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The Combined Effect of Vaccination and Nonpharmaceutical Public Health Interventions—Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Since the emergence of the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in late 2019 and the declaration of a global pandemic in March 2020, the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been substantial. The impact of the pandemic is being felt around the world, and in its early stages, only a few countries were successful in limiting community transmission by early and proactive public health measures aimed at preventing importation and seeding of infection in their jurisdictions. As we collectively learned about this new pathogen and its transmission routes and patterns, most countries relied on public health measures based on previous experience of epidemics of respiratory pathogens with human-to-human transmission to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 infection. These measures included isolation and quarantine, stay-at-home orders, closure of nonessential businesses and schools, physical distancing, limiting social interactions, and enhanced respiratory hygiene, collectively known as nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). These interventions were later supplemented by the recommendation and/or mandate that the public wear nonmedical masks with the aim of reducing transmission at the population level.1 As unintended consequences and the economic toll of public health restrictions continue to mount, a strategy to end this pandemic logically involves deploying effective and safe vaccines. There are several vaccines, mostly based on messenger RNA and nonreplicating viral vector technologies, now approved for use by regulatory authorities around the world. Because the rollout of vaccination campaigns around the world still depends on vaccine supply and available public health infrastructure, it is only natural to ask when we can roll back public health NPIs.

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Article Information

Published: June 1, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.11675

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2021 Doroshenko A. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Alexander Doroshenko, MD, MPH, Division of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, 5-30 University Terrace, 8303-112 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 2T4, Canada (adoroshe@ualberta.ca).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Doroshenko reported receiving personal fees from Sanofi Pasteur for an advisory role and research grants paid to the University of Alberta from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Public Health Agency of Canada, Alberta Health, and University of Alberta Hospital Foundation outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

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