Elligo Health Research, a Texas-based research organization, is working with health data specialists Verily to support the Project Baseline COVID-19 initiative. The program is a collaboration with the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and various public health authorities within the state, geared toward expanding COVID-19 testing and risk screening.
Mapping human health
According to Verily, Project Baseline was a project launched in 2017, designed to map human health, The effort (intended to bridge the gap between clinical research and clinical care) provided a suitable jumping-off point for the COVID-19 program due to its data collection and secure health information storage capabilities.
The Project Baseline COVID-19 program kicked off with a pilot program testing high-risk individuals at select sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last month, the COVID-19 project launched three initial sites to collect samples, located in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The program plans to open additional locations in coming weeks.
Chad Moore, president of Elligo, told Outsourcing-Pharma his company is focused on serving individuals and communities hardest hit by the epidemic, and improving industry knowledge of the virus.
“As the response to the pandemic evolves, Elligo remains committed to this mission of expanding healthcare access to those in need and of improving our understanding of COVID-19 epidemiology,” he said. “Given the growing interest in the point-of-care finger prick blood antibody test, we expect that these will be incorporated into testing locations.”
Moore also explained that in addition to creating obstacles and problems for public health leaders, the virus is causing issues in the clinical research industry.
“COVID-19 is presenting unprecedented challenges for our customers, partners and communities. In this extraordinary situation it is imperative that those of us in healthcare and clinical research work together to advance new and innovative ways to mitigate the risks of COVID-19,” he said. “Whatever we can do to serve communities in need, we will.”
Anticipating future crises
Moore added that in addition to reacting to the current COVID-19 pandemic, professionals in the healthcare and life-science industries must prepare for what might be next, particularly regarding clinical research.
“As existing studies are attended to, the industry is beginning to determine how best to prepare for the next pandemic so the impact on patients and studies is minimized,” he told us. “We’ve talked to many current and prospective sponsor and CRO customers; most intend to meaningfully accelerate the incorporation of eSource data collection, remote monitoring, decentralized study design, site-less patient visits, and generally making it easier for patients to participate in research.”
Another issue that likely lies ahead, Moore said, is tackling the lifting of roadblocks and obstacles once the worst of the crisis has passed.
“As the industry exits the worst of COVID-19, we expect a rush of activity that likely will overwhelm the clinical site infrastructure and create a site capacity crisis," he said. “The combination of restarting studies that have slowed or halted and new study starts will stress traditional clinical research sites.”
Moore added that, absent the onslaught of the pandemic, adoption of decentralized tools might have taken years to gain traction. However, he told us, the disruption caused by the pandemic may have accelerated adoption of such technology.