Say you’re a well being ministry staffer for a small nation within the creating world or a well being division chief in a tiny American county. Your boss has simply assigned you to guage the greater than 1,000 COVID-19 diagnostic checks obtainable worldwide and make a advice on which one your company should purchase.
A new online data dashboard tool from Seattle-based nonprofit PATH has offered a great place to start out for greater than 2,000 public well being officers, most of them from outdoors the U.S.
“We’ve been fairly positively stunned with the quantity of consumer interplay we’ve arduous,” stated Neha Agarwal, a senior commercialization officer with PATH. “It’s reaching plenty of the low-income nations that we had been hoping we’d attain.”
PATH in late November launched the Tableau-based dashboard that gives at-a-glance summaries and tables of vital data associated to COVID-19 diagnostic checks.
The objective was two-fold. For starters, the information is important to assist decision-makers worldwide navigate by way of the “tidal wave” of checks obtainable to detect COVID-19, stated Roger Peck, a undertaking supervisor at PATH.
Not like vaccines, which undergo a strictly regulated course of, the obstacles to entry for COVID checks is low, Agarwal stated. And since this can be a international pandemic that’s affecting essentially the most prosperous nations of the world, there’s plenty of money obtainable to develop checks.
“Diagnostic firms flooded the market, as a result of swiftly there’s cash to be made,” she stated. “These checks aren’t that tough to fabricate.”
Inside a number of months there have been a whole lot of checks obtainable. However out of all these checks, solely 22 have obtained emergency-use listings from the World Well being Group, which is the gold normal in public well being.
That doesn’t essentially imply that the remaining are unhealthy, Peck stated. A whole bunch have been authorized by regulatory businesses within the U.S. or different nations. Many had been developed early within the pandemic, however have been outdated by newer, more-accurate strategies. And a few could also be completely legitimate, however had been developed by firms that don’t know how you can navigate the regulatory course of.
That makes it extraordinarily troublesome for public well being officers to guage them, Peck stated — particularly in nations already battling different endemic ailments.
PATH’s dashboard helps well being officers zero in on which checks work finest given their circumstances and what’s obtainable and reasonably priced — for instance, which checks can be found regionally, or which may be imported.
Up to now, the dashboard has attracted greater than 2,000 distinctive guests, Agarwal stated, with about 70% from outdoors the U.S., together with some federal businesses.
The dashboard additionally highlights international inequities in entry to healthcare. It reveals that greater than 900 of the 1,100 obtainable checks have been developed in simply 4 nations: the U.S., China, Japan and the UK. Alternatively, the whole continent of South America has entry to solely 10 home-grown COVID diagnostic checks; Africa has solely six.
That knowledge helps elevate consciousness to nations that need assistance securing COVID testing, Agarwal stated. “We’re not going to unravel all these inequities,” Agarwal stated. “However we have to perceive the place these diagnostic deserts are.”