Unmet needs, health policies, and actions during the COVID-19 pandemic: a report from six European countries

Oriol Miralles, Dolores Sanchez-Rodriguez, Esther Marco, Cédric Annweiler, Ainhoa Baztan, Évora Betancor, Alicia Cambra, Matteo Cesari, Benito J. Fontecha, Jerzy Gąsowski, Sophie Gillain, Suzy Hope, Katie Phillips, Karolina Piotrowicz, Niccolò Piro, Guillaume Sacco, Edoardo Saporiti, Murielle Surquin, Estel Vall-llosera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The United Nations (UN) has published a Policy Brief on the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) that identifies policies and responses to protect older adults. Our objective was to summarize actions, health policies and clinical guidelines adopted by six European countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and United Kingdom) during the pandemic, and to assess the impact of national policies on reducing adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in older populations. Methods: Reports by geriatricians on the measures and actions undertaken by governmental institutions in each country between March and July 2020, as well as the role of primary care during the pandemic, covered three areas: (a) general health strategies related to the pandemic; (b) impact of COVID-19 on health inequity; and (c) initiatives and challenges for the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Results: In the six countries, COVID-19 mortality in nursing homes ranged from 26 to 66%. Although all countries endorsed the World Health Organization general recommendations, the reports identified the lack of harmonized European guidelines and policies for nursing homes, with competencies transferred to national (or regional) governments. All countries restricted visits in nursing homes, but no specific action plans were provided. The role of primary care was limited by the centralization of the crisis in hospital settings. Conclusions: The older population has been greatly affected by COVID-19 and by the policies initiated to control its spread. The right to health and dignity are transgenerational; chronological age should not be the sole criterion in policy decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Geriatric Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Ageism
  • COVID-19
  • Geriatrics
  • Health policies
  • Older people
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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