Johns Hopkins will examine COVID-19 data in retrospect


As the worst remnants of the coronavirus pandemic come to a close in the United States with waves of vaccinations, there is still a distinct need for conversation and action regarding modern public health data infrastructure according to Ed Simcox, former HHS CTO and current CSO at LifeOmic. 

On May 17, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center (CRC) announced that it will implement a Pandemic Data Initiative to investigate inconsistencies in past data collection that hindered effective responses during COVID-19.

The Initiative will also use their university team’s expertise with local and federal government to provide solutions for them regarding how to approach pandemic data management.

The PDI team will consistently deliver real-time information and insights to the public and policymakers based on their research. 

“The future is bright for us being able to connect the public health ecosystem together in a much more durable and meaningful way moving forward,” said Simcox.


In the U.S., there is no standardized way of reporting public health data. This has led to major gaps, delays and errors in reporting on both the state and federal levels. 

“We have a vacuum of data that is filled with guessing,” Simcox said. “It’s filled with opinion and anecdote, which leads to a mistrust in the recommendations that are coming from federal and state agencies regarding best practices.” 

Public health data cannot be effective without an overwhelming amount of trust in the health system according to Simcox. That’s where standardized data comes into play: It has the power to meet public skepticism with transparent evidence that is as accurate, complete, and timely as possible. 


Johns Hopkins’s CRC has been a visible player in the pandemic data space, especially with its high-profile COVID-19 case tracker. However, it is not the only organization that understands the gravity of the pandemic data-standardization issue. 

Countries like Israel have also taken measured steps in tackling COVID-19, utilizing data innovation. Harnessing data has become top of mind for industries and governments alike, but with targeted initiatives like the PDI, institutions can utilize insights from data to combat health inequities and heighten confidence in public health.




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