Beyond COVID-19: A Whole of Health Look at Impacts During the Pandemic Response

Substantial evidence has emerged relating to the potential magnitude of the indirect health effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We know, from previous crises and outbreaks (e.g., the Ebola outbreak), that indirect health effects are significant and could outweigh the direct toll from the disease itself. This paper provides an overview of the lessons learned from previous outbreaks and economic crises in relation to indirect health effects as well as a framework for adopting a whole of health approach to the COVID response. This framework articulates indirect health impacts around four distinct but interrelated sets of impacts: economic, environmental, health systems, and social/behavioural. We apply this framework to discuss what is known already on the indirect health impacts of COVID-19. Given the rapidly changing nature of the outbreak and the constant publication of new evidence, this paper summarizes our current best knowledge and understanding, adopting a horizontal view to contextualise COVID-19 within the health system, and the whole economy.

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