The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving every day. At the time of this article, there are just under 4 million diagnosed cases worldwide, with 1.3 million in the United States alone. Because COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, there is little information on its long-term impact, treatment options, or overall patient outcomes. However, pharmaceutical companies are continuously working to create vaccines, and more and more COVID-19 data is becoming clear.
Now, says TechCrunch, Johns Hopkins is offering the public access to COVID-19 data via their new online hub. Their goal is to better inform the public, while also combating misinformation shared by politicians or other public officials.
COVID-19: A Brief Overview
COVID-19 is an infectious viral disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within 2 days to 2 weeks following exposure. In many people, these symptoms will be mild to moderate:
- Loss of smell or taste
- Dry, persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
However, in some cases, COVID-19 causes a severe immune reaction called a cytokine storm. Patients with this reaction may experience severe respiratory distress and inflammation throughout the body. An understanding of symptoms changes every day, with recent news noting that blood clots, bluish lips, or severe confusion can also be cause for concern.
Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, there were no tests in place earlier this year. Currently, the CDC states that viral tests can diagnose current infections, while antibody tests can denote prior infections. However, many people cannot be tested due to a lack of tests and other medical supplies.
Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 Data Hub
Johns Hopkins University, and their associated medical center, are now looking to improve the understanding of COVID-19 testing. The hub is called the COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative. According to the website, the Initiative will look to share data on available tests, where patients can find them, how many tests are available, antibodies, and levels of potential immunity. It seeks to bridge the gap between data collected and what is available to the public:
Governments, businesses, and families will rely on data from [viral tests for the presence of COVID-19 infection as well as serological tests for antibodies and potential immunity] as they make decisions around the path forward. However, local testing data are not currently publicly available, and a comprehensive set of these data – paired with expert analysis and guidance – does not exist in one place.
The COVID-19 data hub will share:
- Answers to questions on COVID-19 diagnoses
- A breakdown of differences between serological and molecular tests
- Testing costs
- Information on COVID-19 symptoms and exposure risk, particularly if seeking testing
- A state-by-state breakdown on tests performed vs. confirmed diagnoses and deaths
- A weekly change rate in positive tests across all states
Johns Hopkins is doing what it can to provide up-to-date, consistent, and factual data. However, the university reminds the public that the data may not be fully consistent or accurate. This is because they are sourcing the data directly from states and hospitals. Accurate data may be delayed, under-reported, or otherwise compromised.
Looking to the future, Johns Hopkins will continue reporting COVID-19 data as the situation develops.