* An Explosion of COVID-19 Data
* Real-world Data Needed to Accelerate COVID-19 Containment, Tracing and Treatment Solutions
* Industry Steps up with Proliferation of Innovative Data-Driven Solutions
An Explosion of COVID-19 Data
Vast amounts of clinical data are captured at the point of care. This real-world data (RWD) is a treasure trove from which researchers and clinicians can better understand the characteristics of the novel coronavirus and develop therapies, clinical guidance, and containment strategies. Unfortunately, much of COVID-19 RWD remains untapped. But this is soon to change as industry leaders leap forward with deep talent and advanced data and technology solutions aimed at quickly getting meaningful data into the hands of researchers and analysts.
Real-world Data for COVID-19 Containment, Tracing and Treatment Solutions
Small clinical trials, anecdotes, COVID-19 testing, hospitalizations, and deaths are the primary sources of data from which decisions such as shelter in place, when to relax restrictions and emerging treatments are being made. While this source data is useful for modeling, it falls short in providing insights for comprehensive containment, tracing, and treatment solutions. Real-world data, in particular, is needed to make the necessary accelerated breakthroughs required to end this pandemic. An overview of RWD captured from the time a person enters the healthcare testing system to the point of recovery or death is shown below.
From this rich source of RWD, captured in real-time, scientific evidence can be obtained on symptoms and disease progression; risk factors associated with disease severity, comorbid conditions and social determinants of health; treatment efficacy and efficiency; and overall outcomes. There is so much we do not know about the novel coronavirus and how it behaves. For example, we don’t know why some people become so ill and others don’t. Or why some people are asymptomatic and others aren’t. We also don’t know how COVID-19 behaves related to immunity, reinfection and viral shedding. Maybe, and even more dangerously, we are making inferences and judgements about the behavior of the disease based on small sample, ‘sound bite’ studies, which have now been found to have resulted in a flurry of wrong decisions or interpretations about treatments that may have had significant consequences. Researchers understand that deep, objective and clinically valid data at scale is what is needed to design a meaningful study and generalize outcomes. Real-world data offers that scale and reduction in bias.
Industry Responds with Innovative Data-Driven Solutions
As illustrated in the graphic below, industry leaders are stepping forward to curate and aggregate RWD and other types of data to make progress on containment, tracing, and treatment. The field is already getting crowded, so we wanted to lay it all out and outline how we see these different players contributing to the cause of advancing diagnosis treatments and ultimately vaccines. Missing one? Please email us with your recommended adds.
Generating comprehensive research data is one of the goals of Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV),” a recently formed public-private partnership between a dozen-plus biopharmaceutical companies and US and European government agencies. This partnership is foundational and complimented by leading companies across industry driving needed data-driven innovation.
Free Technology and Resources
Specifically, how is the industry responding? A proliferation of free technology services and products including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon services and cross-industry collaborations like the Open COVID Pledge and free research databases such as the CORD-19 Project, COVID-19 research database, the COVID-19 Imaging Data Repository, and the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator. These free resources help the research community access leading technology, public and private datasets, and reams of published scholarly research. As the national conversation shifts to loosening restrictions, contact tracing, surveillance, and symptom tracking are front and center in that dialogue. Apple and Google teamed up to pave the way by launching API’s to support official public health contact tracing apps. Privacy concerns dominated headlines early but seem to have been mitigated as described in a recent Forbes article. Meanwhile, several surveillance dashboards, such as the COVID-19 GIS Hub and the now mainstream, Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 Dashboard, and mobile symptom tracking apps such as COVID Symptom Tracker are critical for surveillance and tracking initiatives. We have all lived our quarantines checking these daily if not more. The critique on these trackers is that they may be measuring the proliferation of testing vs. the spread as new data comes out about antibody prevalence. How many of us are thinking the awful flu we experienced back in January/February might have actually been the now infamous SARS-CoV-2?
Registries have always played a significant role in understanding populations and so too with COVID-19. Newly created COVID-19 related patient registries provide RWD on the characteristics of the novel coronavirus and insights on targeted treatment. A multitude of population-specific registries have been launched by medical associations such as the American Heart Association and American Society of Clinical Oncology. A national COVID-19 patient registry has also been launched in partnership between LabCorp and Ciox. This registry will pair structured lab data to deep clinical data on both positive and negative patients to provide a definitive COVID-19 patient registry for researchers.
Academic Institutions and NGOs
Academic institutions and NGOs like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are actively working on Health Care Worker prospective studies and initiatives. Duke Clinical Research Institute will be engaging healthcare workers in a large prospective study to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on their health and to study if hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 infections in health care workers. Rutgers University will prospectively determine infection rates in healthcare workers to determine the proportion of the workforce who will get infected. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding accelerated procurement of essential medical supplies for healthcare workers and research on COVID-19 testing and prevention.
Rounding out the landscape is the explosion of Clinical Trials that are in various phases and a flurry of intense activity related to the development and deployment of molecular and antibody tests, all needing more and more quality data, fast! If you want to keep track of these trials, Cytel put together a very cool open-access tool, COVID-19 Trial Tracker, to track the global response to the pandemic.
Scientists are predicting second and third waves of COVID-19 infections. With the above data-driven initiatives in play including using RWD, the US should be in a better position to respond more aggressively and effectively. Good science depends on comprehensive data and the industry is poised to deliver.