BIREME Bulletin n° 43

Accessing information in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic

In times of emergency, one of the main elements to consider is information, which is important for both the prevention and response stages. According to Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, “timely and evidence-based information are the best vaccine against rumors and misinformation.”[1]

Currently, there exist various sources of information about COVID-19 related to health issues and other areas for decision makers, health professionals and the general public. A large number of sources correspond to Ministries of Health, research institutes and other national agencies. Many of these sources can also be found on the websites of countries’ central offices and PAHO and WHO centers.

The World Health Organization and its regional offices, like the Pan American Health Organization, make reliable information available to the entire scientific community and the general public, regularly updated in the Organization’s official languages, both on portals dedicated to the subject, as well as on databases and tools developed for this purpose, which we describe below.

WHO website about the outbreak of the disease caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19)

who1_enOn this site, you can find information and guidance from the WHO about the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), like protective actions, frequently asked questions and answers, technical guidelines, travel tips, tips for the community regarding rumors, among many others.

As conveyed on the site, “the WHO is collaborating closely with experts, governments and global partners to rapidly expand the scientific knowledge about this new virus, track its spread and virulence, and advise countries and individuals about measures to protect their health and prevent the spread of the outbreak.”[2]

PAHO website about COVID-19 

ops2_enWhile the WHO technical documents can be found on this site, its main focus is the Region of the Americas, displaying the current situation of the number of COVID-19 cases reported by the countries of the region, through an interactive map, the PAHO Response Strategy, the Organization’s technical documents classified by different topics and target audiences, epidemiological alerts, public health issues, communication materials in different formats (infographics, animations, materials for social networks and different toolkits for journalists to communicate risks and advice).

WHO database (COVID-19)

who3_enThe database developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), through the Digital Information Libraries and Networks Unit, with the support of the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME), PAHO/WHO Specialized Center that integrates the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health (EIH). The global research database on the new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, reuses the search interface of the Global Index Medicus (GIM).

The latest international scientific discoveries and knowledge about COVID-19 can be found in the database. The international literature cited in the WHO COVID-19 database is updated daily from bibliographic searches, manual searches and the addition of other scientific articles sent by specialists. This database represents a comprehensive multilingual source of current literature on the subject.

PAHO database of guidance and research on COVID-19

ops4_enThe database published by PAHO contains the most up-to-date information about guidance and research on the COVID-19 pandemic in the Region of the Americas and in affected countries around the world.

The database includes guidance and recommendations made by PAHO and WHO, as well as other technical guidelines from Member States, scientific publications and ongoing research protocols in the Region of the Americas. It is aimed at policy and decision makers, researchers, health professionals and the general public.

It defines several filters that allow searching by categories, types of study, authorship and language (Spanish, French, English, and Portuguese), among others. The PAHO database complements the WHO publications database on COVID-19, as it features a selected bibliography with emphasis on the Americas.

Window of Knowledge on COVID-19

vitri_enThe Window of Knowledge, developed by BIREME with the contribution of the countries in the Region, available in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, is a living space that is constantly updated by WHO, PAHO, ministries of health and institutes in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The selected content includes: filters for scientific information available in the VHL, WHO and PAHO guides and technical manuals, other databases, such as the PAHO evidence database, IRIS (Institutional Repository for Information Sharing), and many others containing open access documents, like preprints in the bioRxiv repository, Cochrane and others.

The Window contains thematic research filters, audiovisual and communication material, courses developed and available on the PAHO virtual public health campus. A space for the countries of the Region is fueled with guides, protocols, and other material developed at the national level. It is noteworthy that the Window in Portuguese focuses on the materials produced and/or translated by PAHO/Brazil and by the Ministry of Health of the countries.

As a resource of the Virtual Health Library (VHL), the Window of Knowledge is a resource that aims to give visibility and access to the main documents and other information resources on priority health issues, in this case COVID-19.

Access the complete collection of Windows on other topics of interest in health, available in Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

According to Diego González, director of BIREME, “we are being consistent with our mission of giving visibility to technical and scientific information, evidence and knowledge in health, in a collaborative work with our networks and in times when it is important to share and put up-to-date and reliable information in the hands of users.”


[1] Panamerican Health Organization: COVID-19: Communication Materials. Available from:

[2] World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic. Available from:

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