Considerations for pharmacoepidemiological analyses in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2020 Aug;29(8):825-831. doi: 10.1002/pds.5029. Epub 2020 May 21.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has triggered several hypotheses regarding use of specific medicines and risk of infection as well as prognosis. Under these unique circumstances, rapid answers require quick engagement in data collection and analyses; however, appropriate design and conduct of pharmacoepidemiologic studies are needed to generate valid and reliable evidence. In this paper, endorsed by the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology, we provide methodological considerations for the conduct of pharmacoepidemiological studies in relation to the pandemic across eight domains: (1) timeliness of evidence, including the need to prioritise some questions over others in the acute phase of the pandemic; (2) the need to align observational and interventional research on efficacy; (3) the specific challenges related to "real-time epidemiology" during an ongoing pandemic; (4) what design to use to answer a specific question; (5) considerations on the definition of exposures; (6) what covariates to collect; (7) considerations on the definition of outcomes; and (8) the need for transparent reporting.

Keywords: COVID-19; bias; methodology; pharmacoepidemiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pharmacoepidemiology / organization & administration*
  • Pharmacoepidemiology / standards
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Research Design*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Time Factors