Members of the COVID-19 Primary Care Database Consortium explain how the use of big data containing millions of primary care medical records provides an opportunity for rapid research to help inform patient care and policy decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Established in April 2020, the Consortium brings together experts in big data, epidemiology, intensive care, primary care and statistics, as well as journal editors, patient and public representatives, and front-line clinical staff from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton, Bristol and Nottingham
The consensus statement that the consortium has developed and described in the article aims to facilitate transparency and rigor in methodological approaches, as well as consistency in defining and reporting cases, exposures, confounders, stratification variables and outcomes in relation to the pharmacoepidemiology (i.e. the potential influence of old and new drug therapies on outcomes) of COVID-19. This is important, the authors write, because the vast majority of drugs for common conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or heart failure are prescribed in primary care practitioners in the U.K. For example, ACE-inhibitors widely prescribed by primary care doctors may impact COVID-19 outcomes. Using big data in collaborative databases may help answer questions about the interactions between medicines and COVID-19 outcomes.