International community generating real-world evidence on COVID-19

Written by Ilana Landau, Editor

The Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) international community recently hosted a virtual ‘study-a-thon’, during which various global, observational studies were designed and initiated to generate immediate real-world evidence on prioritized questions surrounding COVID-19.

Over 26–29 March 2020, the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) international community hosted a virtual ‘study-a-thon’, convening over 330 individuals from 30 nations, to design and begin carrying out global, real-world evidence studies to help inform healthcare decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The online meeting was led by researchers from Oxford University (UK), Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Columbia University (NY, USA), University of California, Los Angeles (CA, USA), Ajou University (Suwon, South Korea), Janssen Research and Development (NJ, USA) and IQVIA (NC, USA).

Daniel Prieto-Alhambra (University of Oxford) commented: “It was a humbling effort to lead the OHDSI community in making a meaningful impact during this COVID-19 crisis. Prioritized questions from governments, health care agencies, and institutions helped direct our efforts, and it was inspiring to see how our community rallied together to make important progress on this research effort.”

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The set of key studies that were designed and initiated during the virtual meeting included the largest ever investigation into the safety of hydroxychloroquine — an antimalarial medication currently being investigated as a treatment for COVID-19.

Commenting on the importance of integrating real-world and clinical trial data in the battle against COVID-19, Neus Valveny, Operational Strategy Lead in real-world evidence at TFS (Lund, Sweden) explained: “Similarities and differences with other viral infections as well as effectiveness and safety of current preventive or therapeutic measures are extremely important. Models assessing most relevant prognostic factors in the daily practice will be also crucial to help healthcare providers decide which subjects should be prioritized and given more intensive therapies.”

Further studies spearheaded during the ‘study-a-thon’ include those investigating and profiling multiple additional treatments proposed against COVID-19, as well as a large-scale characterization of individuals with COVID-19 across both Asia and the USA.