The dangers of having only one pandemic exit strategy

Zhaohui Su, Barry L. Bentley, Dean McDonnell, Ali Cheshmehzangi, Junaid Ahmad, Sabina Šegalo, Claudimar Pereira da Veiga, Yu Tao Xiang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Background: When it comes to pandemic response, preparation can be the key. Between 2020 and 2024, the fast-paced development of COVID-19—often compounded by pubic policies’ failures to reflect the latest reality and the public's divergent reactions to the pandemic and the policies—means that society should prepare for exit strategies that can reflect the reality of the pandemic and the interests of the people. Yet oftentimes societies only have one exit strategy with limited scope. This paper investigates the dangers of having only one pandemic exit strategy for pandemics like COVID-19. Methods: Analyses were based on a review of the literature on COVID-19 exit strategies and our own research. The PubMed literature search focused on two concepts—“COVID-19″ and “exit strategy”—and was limited to peer-reviewed papers published between 2020 and 2024 in English. Results: A total of 31 articles were included in the final review. Analyses showed that existing studies on COVID-19 exit strategies often focused on using the modelling method to gauge one exit strategy. Exit strategies were often discussed in the context of implementing, easing, or lifting specific pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical interventions. Staged and country-wide coordinated exit strategies were also discussed in the literature, both of which were often deemed as comparatively rigorous options compared to single or stand-alone exit strategies. Drawing on the overall development of COVID-19 and our own research, we presented and discussed the importance of having multiple exit strategies that are considerate of all possible pandemic trajectories, diverse interests of the public, and the communication challenges officials might face in introducing or implementing pandemic policies. Conclusion: This paper underscored the importance of having multiple exit strategies for societies to prepare for pandemics. The insights of this study can help inform health policies so that they can more comprehensively and compassionately protect the needs and wants of the “public” in public health, particularly in grave times like COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1012
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Infection and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Disaster preparation
  • Emergency planning
  • Health policy
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'The dangers of having only one pandemic exit strategy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this