A Research Network

An interdisciplinary team at the University of Geneva coordinated by Prof Olivia Keiser was commissioned by WHO AFRO to support their member states with data analyses on COVID-19. The international network includes over 40 experts, and students from various institutions across Switzerland, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, DRC, France, Germany, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, the UK, United States and Zimbabwe. People work collaboratively thereby assisting WHO AFRO’s Health Information and Response department.

Individual-level COVID-19 case data (i.e. line-lists) regularly received from each country are cleaned, analysed and interpreted. Data are integrated with publicly available data (on mobility, population density and socio-economic factors) to create detailed epidemiological reports on the course of the epidemic. The Renku platform enables collaborative, dynamic and secure data analysis, and is supported and adapted based on the team’s needs by EPFL developers. All analyses are done with open source software (R and Python).

Students also conduct literature reviews and extract case count data from open access ministry of health websites. A data scraping script is being developed to automate this process. Regional epidemiological analyses are presented to WHO AFRO’s senior management team. Other projects are planned or are in early stages of development. These include a hospital-based COVID-19 surveillance database, mathematical simulation models of COVID-19 transmission and detailed accessibility maps that depict where access to COVID-19 testing and treatment sites are poor. We are also developing training material to quickly integrate new team members (with a focus on African-based researchers) and to ensure sustainability.

We are doing these projects with support of:
- World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa
- Université de Genève
- Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
- RENKU Platform
- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich - ETH Zurich
- École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne ‐ EPFL
- Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)
- Fundação