Irrespective of what specific field they are working in, epidemiologists have had an interesting two years. On the one side, we might get the flack for the countermeasures taken to battle the corona pandemic, on the other side we do not need to explain anymore what an epidemiologist actually does. You win some, you lose some.
But we are not all working on COVID-19 24/7. Still, even when you are not an infectious disease epidemiologist, chances are you that your work has been affected. Take my case, for example. My expertise lies in clinical epidemiology, especially from non-communicable diseases – I know a lot about how to study the causes and consequences of diseases that are not transferable between people. Even though I leave the hardcore infectious disease epidemiology to the experts, my skill set can bring useful insights and contributions. I have listed my CVOID-19 contributions below.
- The PCFS: mentioned on this blog before, we have come up with an ordinal outcome in May 2020 of which we think is useful in measuring and thereby understanding the long term consequences of COVID-19 (aka long-covid). The scale is adopted in various ways (clinically, in guidelines, observational studies and trials). We published a couple of papers, and are now looking into the use and misuse of the PCFS in the current literature, with student JL in the lead. More on the OSF can be found on this OSF page, and in this earlier post.
- COVID-19 hospital admissions in NL – the Dutch hospital admission numbers are given daily. That in and of itself is useful, but their context is important. We sketch out this contact, especially in light of a so-called code black, an ominous yet valid way of saying that we need to take into account non-medical factors into account to triage patients as we only have limited resources on the ICU and wards. More on this can be found on this OSF page. The apper is submitted to a Dutch Journal and expected to be published in the next couple of days.
- The WHO definition of long covid – I have contributed in various meetings/Delphi rounds etc to the WHO definition of long COVID, published in October 2021. This definition reads: Post COVID-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms and that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction but also others and generally have an impact on everyday functioning. Symptoms may be new onset following initial recovery from an acute COVID-19 episode or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time.
- Post corona core outcome set – I am a participant in the PC-COS effort to come to a core outcome set that helps to study all that happens after COVID-19. Standardization of outcomes is critical, otherwise we are comparing apples to oranges (or even mushrooms for that matter!). If you want to learn more, take a look at the COMET website with some information on the study, or the PC-COS project page. Or just take a look at the video below: