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5 Ways RWE is Fueling the Fight Against COVID-19

Posted on June 19th, 2020 by in COVID-19

As we discussed in an earlier blog post, real-world evidence can bring value to every stage of the drug life cycle, from early discovery to post-market. Now, as the worldwide research community continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also discovering how real-world data and real-world evidence have something to offer in these efforts as well.

With regard to COVID-19, one of the key ways that RWE can help is in managing the outbreak. RWE can assist researchers in monitoring the disease and understanding how it is affecting people, prompting insights that will enable better tracking and strategic decision-making. There is also hope that the data being gathered and analyzed could help evaluate potential treatments.

New initiatives explore how to utilize RWE against COVID

In the last few months, a rapid succession of programs and collaborations have launched with an aim to use real-world evidence and data to take on COVID-19 from various angles. Here is an overview of a few particularly notable initiatives:

1. Evidence accelerator

The Reagan-Udall Foundation and Friends of Cancer Research joined forces to create the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator, a portal and process bringing many teams together to capture real-world data related to COVID-19 to address important questions.

2. Government / industry partnership

One of the collaborations that has already grown out of the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator is between the FDA and New York-based, data science-driven tech company Aetion. Together, their goal is to “identify and analyze fit-for-purpose data sources to characterize COVID-19 patient populations and their medication use, identify risk factors for COVID-19-related complications, and contribute to the scientific evaluation of potential interventions.” Various real-world data sources and Aetion’s own proprietary analytic platform are key to the endeavor.

3. COVID-19 study-a-thon

In late March 2020, the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) community held a four-day virtual study-a-thon to help aid decision-making during the pandemic. The study-a-thon had data scientists and researchers from around the globe designing and executing observational studies using real-world data from sources such as EHRs and administrative data. More events like this could be a great way of bringing the international community together to use RWE in the fight against COVID-19.

4. A data collection tool

Veracuity LLC, a biopharmaceutical safety informatics and analytics company, has designed an online survey tool that can be easily used by healthcare workers to collect and analyze real-world data on predisposing conditions, treatment strategies, outcomes and side effects that are experienced by COVID-19 patients. The tool, which is being distributed by the Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety, is expected to help fill in knowledge gaps about COVID-19, from risk factors to treatment outcomes.

5. An electronic registry

Health tech firm xCures has established BEAT19, an initiative created to gather knowledge about COVID-19. Essentially it is a real-time research study in which people – both COVID-19 patients and people who are well – are invited to share their symptoms, stress level, etc. The aim is to amass data that will enhance understanding of the disease in an empirical way.

To learn more about real-world evidence, read our previous blog posts on why pharma is interested in RWE and RWD, the benefits of RWE in drug development and the regulatory response to RWE.

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