By Miquel Oliu-Barton, Bary S R Pradelski, Yann Algan, Michael G Baker, Agnes Binagwaho, Gregory J Dore, Ayman El-Mohandes, Arnaud Fontanet, Andreas Peichl, Viola Priesemann, Guntram B Wolff, Gavin Yamey, Jeffrey V Lazarus
There is increasing evidence that elimination strategies have resulted in better outcomes for public health, the economy, and civil liberties than have mitigation strategies throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With vaccines that offer high protection against severe forms of COVID-19, and increasing vaccination coverage, policy makers have had to reassess the trade-offs between different options. The desirability and feasibility of eliminating SARS-CoV-2 compared with other strategies should also be re-evaluated from the perspective of different fields, including epidemiology, public health, and economics. To end the pandemic as soon as possible—be it through elimination or reaching an acceptable endemic level—several key topics have emerged centring around coordination, both locally and internationally, and vaccine distribution. Without coordination it is difficult if not impossible to sustain elimination, which is particularly relevant in highly connected regions, such as Europe. Regarding vaccination, concerns remain with respect to equitable distribution, and the risk of the emergence of new variants of concern. Looking forward, it is crucial to overcome the dichotomy between elimination and mitigation, and to jointly define a long-term objective that can accommodate different political and societal realities.