Using data insights to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Dr Su Anson | Head of Innovation & Research

Date: 3 April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound effect on the daily life of people across Europe, from economic repercussions to mental wellbeing. Policymakers and public health experts unanimously recognise the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable persons: minors, ethnic minorities, migrants, girls and women, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and the elderly.

The uneven distribution of the pandemic’s impact threatens to aggravate pre-existing inequalities and divisions. The intersectional nature of health and socioeconomic inequalities makes it even more difficult for policymakers and healthcare officials to understand and address the negative impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable groups. With the aim of untangling the complexity of vulnerability in the COVID-19 pandemic, Trilateral Research and the rest of the COVINFORM project research team will employ data analysis and data modelling to guide policymaking and the development of recommendations for future healthcare crises.

The EU-funded COVINFORM project will provide guidance and recommendations for more inclusive policies, measures, and tools that consider the particular needs of different vulnerable groups. The risk assessment model, alongside other findings and outputs from the COVINFORM project, will be used to develop solutions, guidelines and good practices to ensure that the needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups are appropriately considered in potential further waves of COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Employing data insights in the management of public health crises

Given the incredible amount of data that has been generated during the ongoing crisis – across and beyond Europe – the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming for decision-makers. Thus, by conducting comparative interdisciplinary research, COVINFORM will evaluate the response and impact at different geographical levels and exploit this body of knowledge to develop a risk assessment model.

Trilateral Research is leading this interdisciplinary work to develop a risk assessment model that will support public healthcare officials and decision-makers in identifying relevant risks and factors in the analysis of pandemic impact and response.

This model will enable tailored intervention measures for different countries and regions while taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of various groups. It will also allow for the evaluation of different responses employed by governments.

Data analysis and data modelling will generate insights to map vulnerability indicators and consider the impacts on vulnerable groups at national, regional and local levels. Trilateral Research will work with COVINFORM’s partners to identify relevant indicators at three levels:

  • At a national level, by combining statistical data from EU member states and the United Kingdom
  • At a regional and local level, the technical research team will work with social scientists to extract relevant data indicators from qualitative data sources (e.g., interview transcripts, verbal stories, lockdown diaries, blogs, short films such as BBC’s Lockdown Diaries)
  • At a local level, data from 5 to 10 case study sites will be used

The datasets identified for the purpose of the risk assessment model will be featured in COVINFORM’s COVID-19 Knowledge Repository including resources designed to improve the resilience, wellbeing, and mental health of the population, frontline workers, and of the most vulnerable groups.

The goal of this interdisciplinary approach is to enhance current understandings of how vulnerability is both defined and addressed (if at all) in governmental and public health responses and crisis communications. It complements data analysis with social science findings to holistically assess the social, economic, and political impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and its responses.

As a result, public healthcare officials and decision-makers will gain insights into their context of operations empowered by a deeper and layered understanding of the vulnerability it presents. Thus, gaining a broader view on the impacts across their communities including vulnerable and marginalised groups. This knowledge and approach will help decision-makers navigate the challenges of public health crises with a greater understanding of how the planned responses will affect the different sectors of their communities.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to highlight some of the gaps in health crises management across Europe. This presents an opportunity for the decision-makers to learn lessons from the crises and develop more effective responses for the future.

For more information on this research area please contact our team.

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