Without data on the environmental and economic impacts of recovery policies during crises, policymakers work blindly or at the guidance of special interests. Pandemic stimulus spending data could point the way to creative policy decisions that benefit the climate, the economy, and public health.
Pandemic data about Latinos has been severely limited due to inaccurate categorizations of race and ethnicity as well as outreach hobbled by language and other research barriers. But small changes to data collection methods could have a big impact on recognizing and addressing long-standing health disparities in the Latino community.
Since authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, data on breakthrough cases and booster doses have been essential to tracking vaccine efficacy and coverage levels, and identifying unvaccinated or undervaccinated populations. The CDC now reports cases and deaths by vaccination status and states are consistently reporting booster doses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required medical researchers to reinvent the structure of research to enable rapid data collection amid a near constant stream of updated information. Medical staff also had to combat anecdotal evidence and misinformation that arose from the lack of reliable data, which they themselves were working to rectify.
The importance of public health data will not end after this pandemic, even when state dashboards shut down and COVID-19 no longer dominates headlines. We need to start preparing to preserve these data long-term, ensuring public access and utility.
Johns Hopkins has supported COVID-19 research since the beginning of the pandemic, but researchers may still experience challenges to data collection and collaboration. Dr. Shruti Mehta has served as a principal investigator on multiple COVID-19 research projects and shares how these experiences can inform future pandemic data collaborations to improve the process for researchers, participants, policymakers, and the public.
Open source software licenses allow for data analysis to be shared, reviewed, and analyzed in a quick, consistent, and clear manner. This can allow researchers to circumvent complicated data use agreements and push the public health research community towards more data sharing and collaboration in a post-pandemic world.
The Sheridan Libraries’ crucial role in the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 global map highlights the importance that libraries play in the data missions of universities. Library data management services reduce burdens on researchers, improve public access to data, foster collaborations, and maintain the long-term integrity of datasets.