New Google.org COVID-19 database could hold key to disease’s mysteries

This “line-list” data includes age range, gender, occupation and more.

 

A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 still puzzles researchers, but the public release of a new database may help scientists solve some of the mysteries lingering around this devastating disease.

An international team of researchers from institutions including Boston Children’s Hospital, Northeastern University and the University of Oxford has partnered with Google.org, Google’s nonprofit subsidiary, to release Global.health, a platform that contains information about almost 10 million COVID-19 cases from over 100 countries.

The goal, researchers said, is to help scientists across the globe answer a wide range of questions, from measuring the impact of newly emerged virus variants on different age groups, including children, to understanding how likely a public response is to help curb spread in certain areas.There are many databases tracking COVID information, such as the ones run by Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project, but most of those track what’s known as aggregate data, which includes case and death counts in particular regions.

“What’s different about ours is its detailed line-list information,” said Dr. John Brownstein, a Global.health researcher and a professor of pediatrics and biomedical informatics at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It provides high-resolution data — harder to get but super critical if we’re going to do deep-dive epidemiological research.”

There are many databases tracking COVID information, such as the ones run by Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project, but most of those track what’s known as aggregate data, which includes case and death counts in particular regions.

“What’s different about ours is its detailed line-list information,” said Dr. John Brownstein, a Global.health researcher and a professor of pediatrics and biomedical informatics at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It provides high-resolution data — harder to get but super critical if we’re going to do deep-dive epidemiological research.”

This “line-list” data includes age range, gender, occupation, ethnicity, location, symptoms, travel history, preexisting conditions and outcome, whenever available.

read the full story