How do you run this many network studies and create robust, reliable and reproducible real-world evidence when the disease itself hadn’t existed a year earlier. Major work went into creating the OHDSI COVID-19 network, which as of early December included 22 databases from three continents (North America 11, Europe 8 and Asia 3). Within that network, OHDSI collaborators studied:
– more than 7.4 million patients tested for SARS-COV-2
– more than 1.6 million patients diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19
– more than 300,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19
This level of work takes time. Let’s take one for example. The study “Characteristics and outcomes of 627,044 COVID-19 patients with and without obesity in the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom,” led by Elena Roel, Martina Recalde, and Duarte-Salles, found that obesity is more common amongst COVID-19 than influenza patients, and that obese patients present with more severe forms of COVID-19 with higher hospitalization, intensive services, and fatality than non-obese patients.
That study, which is currently under peer review, was not the first one of its kind to study the impact of obesity around the COVID-19 pandemic. But good luck finding another that includes 207,859 obese patients diagnosed with COVID-19 over three different countries, or 63,866 obese, hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“How do we differentiate what we are doing so people know this is one of the biggest things you can tap into, even if other people publish a paper first?” Kostka said. “We have more diversity in terms of geography, we have larger sample sizes, we’ve done more curation of reliability of the information. The sausage-making may not be exciting, but it’s the OHDSI process that makes the results meaningful.”
Also, top health organizations around the world don’t rely on exciting. The authors of that obesity paper were asked to present their work to the World Health Organization (WHO) European Office (even if they weren’t sure at first that the request was real or an elaborate practical joke).
It was real.
“It was an honor to be invited and to have the opportunity to present the community work on obesity and COVID-19 at a WHO/Europe expert meeting,” said Duarte-Salles, a 2020 OHDSI Titan Award winner (Community Collaboration). “It is exciting to see the evidence generated in CHARYBDIS being recognized and used by regulatory and public health agencies to help in the design of recommendations to police makers. I think this is a big accomplishment and we should be very proud of the work we have done as a community this year in the fight against the pandemic.”
Research generated by the HIV study team was presented by a representative from USAID. Regulators have recognized both the clinical and methodological advances made within the OHDSI community this year — both in CHARYBDIS and beyond — and those advances are in line with OHDSI’s core mission of improving health by empowering a community to collaboratively generate the evidence that promotes better health decisions and better care.