Discover more from On the Dot: The Global.health Newsletter
A mindful shift in focus
The pandemic is not over. But, our mission is evolving.
Global.health formed during the early stages of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020 collating and making available open-access data for de-identified individual level case data. We filled a critical gap in the continuum of data needs during epidemics. Our COVID-19 data were used to monitor key epidemiological parameters (e.g., incubation period, serial interval), identify global delays in reporting, and understand transmission dynamics for variants of concern; research done with these data has been cited thousands of times and influenced policies globally.
Our COVID-19 database has reached over 100 million individual cases from over 100 countries. This is a significant milestone, but data formats, completeness, and timely availability have changed over time and other players became better positioned to track global case and death numbers over time. Our intention is to complement, not replace, existing public health systems, including those from the World Health Organization. Our users should have a realistic expectation for the robustness and level of detail for epidemiological data sets, for reasons including, but not limited to: data availability (e.g. outcome status, genomic data) and restrictions based on privacy and ethical concerns. This points to a larger discussion on international data sharing during disease outbreaks. Our vision is to build a trusted and sustainable data governance structure to enable rapid data sharing of outbreaks data that have the potential to spread internationally.
As we carve our niche into the community, we identify our strength as providing support during the first 100 days of an outbreak. We recognize that the pandemic is not over, but have shifted focus to other emerging events where we could add the most value and have a greater public health impact. We came to this decision working collaboratively with our partner organizations and research community. Therefore, we are no longer actively collecting COVID-19 data. COVID-19 provided a proof-of-concept for system design, infrastructure, and standards to build and maintain a global infectious disease repository and visualization platform with a pathogen-agnostic model. In 2022, we shifted focus from COVID-19 to other emerging infectious disease events, including the global mpox outbreak and the Ebola outbreak in Uganda. We completed our 100 Days Mission for both of these events. Currently, we are tracking key epidemiological parameters and conducting contextual research for Marburg outbreaks in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania. We are excited to share this work with our users in the coming weeks as we engage with our user community.
As we continue work in the next phase, we are building on previous outbreak experience to enhance our public health platform by integrating multiple data streams and developing tools for downstream analytics to derive public health relevant insights for research and decision making. We have partnered with international and national health agencies for representation, to support local capacity building, and advance data preparedness for future global outbreak response.
Our website will begin to evolve to reflect a focused mission and the work we are doing to enhance our platform. We aim to help cultivate a global community invested in improving health outcomes for all through open and secure data sharing. Get Involved!