Engaging with policymakers in the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of an Outbreak Advisory Board

Funder: Wellcome

Project lead: Katrina Lawson

Location of activity: Viet Nam

Team members: Nghiem Nguyen Minh Trang, Nguyen Kim Ngan, Ngo Phan Bao Tran

In order to ensure that OUCRU’s COVID-19 research is locally-driven and is best able to achieve local, regional and global impact, we have established an OUCRU Outbreak Advisory Board (OAB).

The goals of the OAB are to:

  • Provide a forum to discuss, share and understand activities and priorities in the context of infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Ensure that OUCRU’s outbreak response projects are useful for key stakeholders’ policy needs.
  • Strengthen the networks between researchers and policymakers focused on outbreak response at national and international levels.

Board members come from multiple levels in the Vietnamese COVID-19 response: national and regional, domestic and international – to ensure broad perspectives are included. The OAB was established in response to COVID-19 but will exist in perpetuity and in future will be able to advise on work relating to general epidemic preparedness and acute outbreaks.

During the pandemic, the board convenes quarterly, using Zoom. Meetings are short, structured and planned in advance. To date, two meetings have been conducted, one in October 2020 and another in March 2021. The third meeting, which should have been organised in June, was cancelled due to the complicated situation of the outbreak happening nationwide. This meeting will be rescheduled as soon as practical. The first meeting focused on understanding each member’s concerns and their activities related to COVID-19 while the second meeting was specific to vaccination strategies, post-vaccination immunology and testing strategies. Establishing the OAB had its challenges, but once set up, it is easy to maintain, and serves as a forum for researchers and policymakers to connect regularly across a wide range of interest areas.