As this book goes to press the world is in the middle of a pandemic of the new coronaviral disease, COVID-19. Although the disease has passed its peak in some countries, in others, especially in South Asia, Africa and South America, weekly cases and deaths are still increasing. LMICs now account for three-quarters of the 100,000 plus new cases per day. On current trends, deaths in cases where the presence of the virus has been confirmed will exceed 600,000 by end July, but this is almost certainly a significant underestimate of the impact because of underreporting, underdiagnosis and “indirect” deaths due to patients being unwilling to seek medical treatment during the pandemic for emergencies such as cardiac arrest and stroke. The true figure may well exceed one million.
Many countries went into lockdowns to limit the spread of the disease, but as they come out of these lockdowns there are concerns about subsequent waves of the disease. These are likely unless effective vaccines are developed, or the virus disappears naturally. For “herd immunity” to be achieved, it will be necessary to vaccinate billions of people. Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, is committed to helping make this happen and has partnered with Laerdal to make its training and quality assurance solutions more effective.
The economic impact of the lockdowns has been severe with many companies having to lay-off large numbers of staff. For Laerdal, its traditional training products have been seriously affected with classroom activities suspended, but this has been partially offset by a greater demand for respiratory therapy and training products. Also, the company’s RQI and e-learning solutions have proven beneficial to customers to limit social contact. Complimentary scenarios were developed very rapidly to assist healthcare personnel, especially those returning to clinical practice, in preparing for and dealing with COVID-19 patients. Given the severe effect of the coronavirus on the lungs of some patients, the ASL 5000 Lung Solution from Laerdal’s partner, Ingmar Medical, used in conjunction with its patient simulators and free training scenarios, has proved very valuable.
In the absence of face-to-face contact, webinars have been organised to assist users in implementing the new scenarios,
and on May 28th Laerdal hosted the first virtual Simulation User Network Conference. Over 3000 participants from 80 countries had presentations from experts from Stavanger, Copenhagen, London and New York on their experiences using simulation to address the challenges of COVID-19.