David Pigott
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Gathering information in real time that is critical to gaining a better understanding of the coronavirus is the goal of a project being undertaken by UW Assistant Professor David Pigott, as part of team that includes multiple organizations around the world. The team is tracking publicly reported confirmed cases of the 2019 novel Coronavirus throughout the world. The constantly updated data is being made available to all via HealthMap, and promoted by the New England Journal of Medicine.

In addition to gathering information on the location and number of reported cases as they arise, the team is gathering metadata on Coronavirus patients such as age, sex, dates of confirmation and symptom onset, how long a patient stays in the hospital, and more.

“This kind of information is useful in real time – for example, hospitals could use the information for planning purposes to help estimate how long patients may occupy a bed. It is also critical to epidemiological models,” says David Pigott, UW MetaCenter and IHME, “and helps fill the void between now and when gold standard clinical data sets are available in future.”

The aim is to report data at a level comparable to that at which action is being taken aiming to be useful to current needs and interests, while recognizing that once gold standard information becomes available it will become the more comprehensive resource.

The HealthMap team tracks publicly reported confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 throughout the world. Click to see the animated spread over time.

The team, started by Moritz Kraemer, Oxford Martin School, includes those from Oxford University, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, Northeastern University, Tsinghua University, and the University of Washington MetaCenter and IHME. “This group is a great demonstration of how Twitter has helped expose like-minded people with one another so that we can coordinate our response to this ongoing situation,” said Pigott.

Pigott is also contributing to a Coronavirus GitHub site, which offers an online space for individuals and organizations across the world to retrieve data in an open and timely manner. The site aims to synthesize information from across a myriad set of data sources (which are openly listed), with contributors’ names and details listed along with a citation.

“The next step is figuring out how other groups capturing different kinds of Coronavirus data can all come together to make a more data rich source,” said Pigott.

Pigott, DPhil, is Assistant Professor, Health Metrics Sciences, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Global Health, UW. He is a faculty member in the IHME Local Burden of Disease team, focusing on improving the spatial resolution at which disease burden and health metrics are considered, expanding and refining existing techniques to a wider number of pathogens and sequelae. He also leads work defining at-risk areas for a number of pathogens with outbreak potential and quantifying heterogeneities in global response capacity to better inform future preparedness planning.

Pigott is a faculty member of the UW MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health Security, which aims to save lives by limiting the extent of infectious disease epidemics. The MetaCenter offers an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and integrated systems approach spearheaded by top scientists and practitioners that focus on improving readiness before epidemics hit.