Mind The Gap: Data availability, accessibility, transparency, and credibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, an international comparative appraisal
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Background Data transparency has played a key role in this pandemic. The aim of this paper is to map COVID-19 data availability and accessibility, and to rate their transparency and credibility in selected countries, by the source of information. This is used to identify knowledge gaps, and to analyse policy implications.
Methods The availability of a number of COVID-19 metrics (incidence, mortality, number of people tested, test positive rate, number of patients hospitalised, number of patients discharged, the proportion of population who received at least one vaccine, the proportion of population fully vaccinated) was ascertained from selected countries for the full population, and for few of stratification variables (age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status) and subgroups (residents in nursing homes, inmates, students, healthcare and social workers, and residents in refugee camps).
Results Nine countries were included: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Turkey, Panama, Greece, the UK, and the Netherlands. All countries reported periodically most of COVID-19 metrics on the total population. Data were more frequently broken down by age, sex, and region than by ethnic group or socio-economic status. Data on COVID-19 is partially available for special groups.
Conclusions This exercise highlighted the importance of a transparent and detailed reporting of COVID-19 related variables. The more data is publicly available the more transparency, accountability, and democratisation of the research process is enabled, allowing a sound evidence-based analysis of the consequences of health policies.
Funding This study was conducted as part of the Summer School “Sustainable Health: designing a new, better normal after COVID-19”. It is a researchers/student collaboration.