UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Applying the lessons of COVID-19 response to Canada's worsening opioid epidemic Norton, Alexa; Kerr, Thomas

Abstract

Global pandemics, such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), often reveal glaring deficiencies within our public health systems. However, such major public health threats also present opportunities to strengthen existing public health structures and responses. Past communicable disease pandemics, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and H1N1 influenza in 2009, exposed systemic weaknesses in the ability of global health systems to respond to novel pathogens, but led to new protocols and improved infrastructure [1,2]. The current COVID-19 pandemic, while associated with significant morbidity and mortality, has created yet another opportunity for reflection: specifically, on the equity of pandemic response. The current situation in Canada, where the co-occurring epidemics of COVID-19 and opioid-related overdose persist, presents a useful case example of such inequities.

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