From the first cases of COVID-19 detected in Europe at the end of January 2020, to the more than 2,000,000 reported in August 2020 (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/cases-2019-ncov-eueea), many things have globally happened; overflow in hospitals, economic losses in all sectors and countries, deaths, many deaths, poverty, tension, etc…. but the problem is still out there.
What about the data? Who and how is this data reported? How do countries deal with these exchanges?
The 3rd of February, the WHO launched Strategies Preparedness and Response Plan to COVID-19, addressing the issue of communication and information exchange.
On the April 14th, the WHO publishes an update, where this need continues to be raised: “There are challenges to conducting global surveillance includes the lack of a global data architecture that facilitates the rapid and efficient sharing of data and information from countries, states, or territories.” (World Health Organization, 14 April 2020)
In June, the WHO publishes a draft updated the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, where the form of collection of indicators and data is materialized.
And on the August 3rd, it publishes the Report on Preparedness and Response progress report: from February 1 to June 30, 2020, where it ensures that “WHO has worked to ensure that the data that underpin these decisions are timely and accurate. WHO took rapid action with partners to establish a global surveillance system that gathers standardized data at global, regional and country levels.” (Department of Communications, Strategic Health Operations,WHO Global, 3 August 2020)
At European level, the organization in charge of the monitoring is the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Every day a team of epidemiologists screens up 500 relevant sources of information to gather the latest figures. All these entries must be valid and documented. In addition, ECDC receives regular updates from the EU / EEA countries through various information systems.
One of the problems that are present is the desynchronization of the data, data are published at different times and in different time zones which causes discrepancies between the national figures and those published by the ECDC.
The need for a standardized process to exchange periodically information in times of COVID-19 shows that we are still far from what has been fighting and working for years: OPEN, PUBLIC, HARMONIZED AND ACCESSIBLE DATA FOR ALL USERS. This would facilitate the tasks of prevention, mitigation and rapid action against the virus at all levels, instead, it has become a continuous war between countries due to the general lack of knowledge of the population data affected by COVID-19.
For more information on published data click here!