Health experts from around the world have come to a consensus on actions they say will end the persistent threat of COVID-19.

Experts have put forth a blueprint to bring the pandemic to a close - recommending a ‘vaccines plus’ approach, which includes a combination of COVID-19 vaccination, prevention measures, treatment and financial incentives.

In a new article for the journal Nature, a diverse panel of 386 researchers, clinicians and policy advisors, representing 112 countries and territories, outline the health and social actions that need to be taken to end the ongoing global threat. 

The group calls for the adoption of joined-up approaches across societies and governments, and for efforts ensuring the equal distribution of vaccines.

As of September 2022, more than 620 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 6.5 million deaths attributed to this disease have been reported worldwide. 

Research into the causes and course of infection and disease, along with improvements in preventative measures, treatment and vaccination, have improved responses to the pandemic. 

However, responses differ from country to country and are hindered by factors such as misinformation, unequal distribution of vaccines and treatments, and inconsistent global coordination.

The multidisciplinary, global panel brings has developed a set of 41 consensus statements and 57 recommendations, which are broken down into 6 main categories: communication, health systems, vaccination, prevention, treatment and care, and pandemic inequities. 

For example, they note that vaccines are an effective tool against COVID-19 but will not alone end COVID-19 as a public health threat. Instead, a ‘vaccines plus’ approach is recommended, which includes a combination of COVID-19 vaccination, prevention measures, treatment and financial incentives. 

They also recommend that collaboration between multiple sectors — including community leaders, scientific experts and public health authorities — is needed to improve trust in different communities. 

In addition, they highlight a need to end pandemic inequalities (such as uneven vaccine distribution) to truly bring the pandemic to a close.