First PopData COVID-19 research project approved

Date posted: 
Thursday, August 27, 2020


Samples being tested for coronavirus in a lab

Data access has been approved for the first PopData project to link COVID-19 testing data with other data sets from the BC Ministry of Health.

The research study aims to identify vulnerable groups with the largest direct and indirect health impact from the pandemic, and to examine possible changes in risk factors for acute severe respiratory morbidity requiring hospitalization prior to and during the pandemic. This project was one of the first to be approved through an expedited data access process from the BC Ministry of Health’s newly-launched Health Data Platform (HDP).

Funded through the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) COVID-19 Research Response Fund, the project is being led by Dr. Sarka Lisonkova, Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia.

“We will estimate the change in all-cause and cause specific hospitalizations, Emergency Department visits and death rates,” said Dr. Lisonkova. “The model will include time periods for pre, during (and post) COVID-19 pandemic, and will be adjusted for any available time varying factors thought to impact the outcomes. Besides month-to-month seasonal changes, week-to-week variations will also be examined.”

The study will also look at medical history associated with severe Covid-19 infection in BC, comparing the rates of severe morbidity in the 5 years prior to the pandemic between Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization and controls selected from the general BC population.

A detailed report on the overall health impact of the pandemic on the BC population and the identification of vulnerable groups to the public health officials will be forthcoming. The results will be continuously updated with new data on additional cases, hospitalizations, etc. Researchers will collaborate with the BC Ministry of Health throughout all steps of the analysis, interpretation of results, and dissemination of findings. The first results are expected in October, depending on data availability.

“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with MSFHR, the BC Ministry of Health and others to enable innovative, rapid COVID-19 research,” said PopData’s Scientific Director, Kim McGrail. “The pandemic has accelerated a number of collaborative initiatives that will expand the data available and improve other supports for data access in BC.”


Page last revised: August 27, 2020