Statistical Review - Studying Outbreaks with COVID-19


In this statistical review episode of Curbside Consults, we explore descriptive epidemiology studies of the COVID-19 outbreak using an article by Guan and colleagues published online in NEJM on February 28, 2020. To help explain the approach to outbreak study analysis, we are joined once again by Dr. David Harrington, statistical consultant at NEJM and Professor emeritus of Biostatistics at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.

0:00 – Introduction
2:35 – Why are descriptive epidemiology studies so important during outbreaks?
4:05 – How was this study performed?
5:30 – Demographic information of those infected with COVID-19
7:02 – Creating subgroups and composite outcomes retrospectively
8:01 – Statistical analysis of descriptive epidemiology data
10:05 – Taking caution when  interpreting incubation times
10:57 – Trends in symptomology and diagnostic test results
12:48 – Clinical course, treatment, and outcomes
14:22 – How descriptive studies help us
16:48 – Summarizing the study results
18:18 – Outro

Resources and articles discussed in this episode:

1. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China

The Curbside Consults series complements the foundational information in Rotation Prep by taking a deep dive into key clinical topics with expert clinicians and educators. These podcasts explore and critique the evidence behind clinical practice and break down statistical concepts for the busy clinical trainee.

 David Harrington is Emeritus Professor of Biostatistics and Statistics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health



 Ahmad is a 2019-2020 editorial fellow at the New England Journal of Medicine. He is from Toronto, Canada where he is completing his training in pulmonary medicine at the University of Toronto.

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