Life science companies combine to form COVID-19 research database

A pipette labeled Covid-19
(Getty/Bill Oxford)

A group of major CRO, life science, data analytics, publishing and healthcare companies joined forces to release a pro bono research database to build up and integrate a central hub on the latest data out for COVID-19.

On the technical side, it’s a secure repository of HIPAA-compliant, de-identified and limited patient-level data sets that will be “made available to public health and policy researchers to extract insights to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the group.

There’s a whole host of companies involved here: Advarra, Aetion, AnalyticsIQ, Arcadia.io, Berkeley Research Group, BHE, Change Healthcare, Datavant, Elsevier, Glooko, Health Care Cost Institute, Healthjump, Helix, Medidata (a Dassault Systèmes company), Mirador Analytics, Munich Re Life US, Office Ally, OMNY, Parexel, Prognos Health, QIAGEN, SAS, Snowflake, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Symphony Health, Veradigm and Verana Health.

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What this database aims to do is allow a central, searchable set of data for researchers looking to tap into the latest information being forged from the disease. This includes real-world data such as medical claims, pharmacy claims, electronic health records and demographic information.

Researchers can tap into the COVID-19 research database through an analytics platform, “enabling them to conduct large-scale studies while protecting patient privacy.”

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The group says examples of how this can work include: “[e]valuations of drug effectiveness utilizing de-identified electronic health record and claims data, identifying which demographic factors and pre-existing conditions are most closely correlated with ventilator support or excess mortality, and measuring the public health impact of quarantine measures put in place in different geographies.”

The group running the database said that researchers whose submissions are accepted can then access the database at no cost, and findings can be submitted to and made available through peer-reviewed publications.

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“The first challenge that many researchers have run into with this crisis is the difficulty of accessing high-quality health data that can be used to answer pressing questions such as drug and non-drug treatment effects, factors that drive differential risk of catching the disease and very different outcomes in those who do,” said Mark Cullen, M.D., professor of medicine at Stanford University. “As a massive public-private collaboration, the COVID-19 Research Database offers researchers a solution and a chance to dramatically accelerate our understanding of this highly infectious virus.”

“In a global pandemic, it’s all hands on deck to fight the virus and tackle the barriers we face to overcome it. We have the data, and we have the technologies to connect it. We need to use these to have a positive impact in the fight against COVID-19 while maintaining and protecting the rights to privacy of individuals within the data,” said Jamie Blackport, CEO of Mirador Analytics.

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