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COVID-19 data challenge to research connections of illness

One of the best tools for combatting the coronavirus pandemic is in the analysis of the copious amounts of data regarding the disease created every day....

William Smith
|May 13|magazine7 min read

One of the best tools for combatting the coronavirus pandemic is in the analysis of the copious amounts of data regarding the disease created every day. This might be analysing how it spreads, or who is at most at risk.

In the US, data company Hitachi Vantara, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, is partnering with the American Heart Association and healthcare blockchain firm BurstIQ to expose datasets about COVID-19 to researchers and clinicians in the hope that its relationship with other health conditions can be clarified.

It is a fact that certain parts of the population are at far more risk of dying from COVID-19 - whether that’s due to pre-existing health conditions or due to disparities in ethnicity, gender, geography, income or many other factors. 

“People living in under-resourced communities, particularly African Americans and U.S. Hispanics, appear to be dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, as they’re more likely to have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science for the American Heart Association, in the accompanying press release. “Long before the pandemic, systemic challenges have contributed to disparities that impede some people from living long, healthy lives. COVID-19 has further exacerbated this issue.”

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Consequently, the organisations are giving researchers access to BurstIQ’s global COVID-19 datasets available on the Hitachi Vantara-built cloud-based Precision Medicine Platform used by the American Heart Association in order to “address the unsolved questions of how COVID-19 may be disproportionally affecting those with health disparities.” More than $100,000 worth of prize funding is in place for peer-reviewed applications.

“Improving collaboration around data between researchers and scientists enables the rapid co-creation of new solutions that more quickly and effectively tackle existing and new healthcare threats such as COVID-19,” said Paul Watson, vice president Healthcare & Life Sciences, Hitachi Vantara. “Working together our three organizations will deliver a paradigm shift in the way researchers and their institutions leverage data to solve medical challenges like COVID-19.”