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Overview of Covid-19

In December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia-like cases was discovered in Wuhan, China. According to the WHO, the pathogen associated with this cluster was subsequently identified as the novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). By January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and in March 2020, it was declared a global pandemic. This represented a paradigm shift globally, as countries across the globe attempted to implement measures to control the outbreak, while simultaneously trying to understand the virus. As scientists worked to develop adequate testing and treatment protocols, the responses varied widely across countries, ranging from total lockdowns to no responses. In some countries, the death toll and infection rate increased rapidly, with millions of lives being adversely impacted by the virus. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), “[c]oronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)” (MoHW, 2020). The SARSCoV-2 is a new strain of the coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans. It is not uncommon for viruses and the disease they cause to have different names. “Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines… Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment” (WHO, 2020). In this instance, the virus is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. On the other hand, the diseased caused by this virus is called COVID-19, because it is a coronavirus disease that was discovered in 2019.

Reserach Agenda
  • • The National COVID-19 Research Agenda is co-chaired by the MoHW and the STATIN

  • • In March 2020, the Essential National Health Research Committee (ENHRC) of the Ministry brought stakeholders together to discuss the formulation of a National COVID-19 Health Research Agenda

  • • The ENHRC is a CMO-appointed Committee which:

    •    o has developed a National Health Research Agenda

    •    o is developing a National Policy on Research for Health

    •    o has already had collaboration with a number of research stakeholders across sectors in the execution of activities

  • • The ENHRC is currently chaired by Dr. Karen Webster-Kerr, Principal Medical Officer, National Epidemiologist

  • • ENHRC Membership is comprised of key stakeholders in research, including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, educational institutions, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), the Registrar General’s Department, professional associations and non-governmental organizations. Membership of the National COVID-19 Research Working Groups which have formulated the Agenda represents over seventy individuals from fifteen organizations

External Links
Covid-19 Statistics
Covid-19 Tables