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Data has played a significant role in shaping the public health response and informing decision making during the pandemic. The collection and analyses of data in real time has been essential in guiding policy decision making, resource allocation, and public health interventions. Governments and public health agencies around the world have collected data that has been crucial in tracking the spread of COVID19, identifying hotspots, and understanding its impact on different population groups. Data has also been vital in developing COVID19 vaccines, with researchers using genomic sequencing data to identify and track variants of the virus. Additionally, data on vaccine effectiveness, side effects, and adverse reactions has informed vaccine distribution strategies and helped to build public trust in the vaccine. 

Throughout the pandemic, the gathering and analysis of data has played a critical role to forecast COVID19 cases, model potential scenarios, including case counts and hospitalization rates, monitor mobility patterns, including travel data, to reduce the virus’s spread, contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and to track the potential spread. We also saw countries learning from one another, sharing tools and approaches that allowed them to use data for action quickly. The use of real time data was accelerated during the pandemic to provide available economic and health data to inform decision and policy making. This allowed governments to respond nimbly, to use predictive models and to seek patterns to allow them to assess and identify valuable patterns to shape and inform decision and policy making quickly and continuously. The use of real time data was also used to influence population behaviour, urging citizens to “flatten the curve.” While the use of data proved to be an effective tool to respond to the pandemic it also highlighted issues that make it a challenge to collect, share, and use health data for the benefit of Canadians. 

Data visualization tools, such as dashboards, have also been widely utilized during the pandemic, providing timely and accurate information to inform public health responses. In Canada, various dashboards were developed to track COVID19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, as well as vaccination rates. These dashboards have been successful in communicating valuable information to the public and guiding decision making. Their application in cancer can create a powerful tool that monitors a set of key indicators at the Canadian level and would help to chart successes and disparities. (WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS DONE). The success of these transparent and accessible dashboards in communicating crucial information to the public in real time, guiding decision making, and mitigating the impact of the pandemic on public health and the economy cannot be overstated. 

The pandemic has also exposed the limitations of existing digital infrastructure and highlighted the need for increased investment in digital public health infrastructure, including interoperable health information systems, secure data sharing protocols, and reliable broadband access. By investing in digital health and data tools, we can better prepare for future public health crises and improve health outcomes for all. 

Data standardization is a complex process that requires collaboration between

healthcare providers, researchers, and policymakers. It involves developing standardized protocols for data collection, ensuring that data is accurately recorded, and implementing quality control measures to ensure data accuracy and completeness. While abundant data is available, integrated and holistic data strategies are needed to maximize the value of the information and decision making derived from this data. The COVID19 pandemic has underscored the importance of data standardization and interoperability in the healthcare industry but has also highlighted the challenges associated with this.

Lessons derived from the COVID19 response in Canada and elsewhere, exposed the need for a shared approach to accelerate the use of data science in public health. Providing the opportunity for governments to refresh and strengthen their existing data strategies, utilizing data science tools and approaches to collect, manage and use data to strengthen health systems.


Open science is a growing movement within the scientific community that aims to make research fully transparent, reproducible, collaborative, and accessible to everyone. However, the health sciences have been slower to adopt the principles of open science than other scientific disciplines due to various complex incentive structures that discourage it. Despite this, the COVID19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of open science, and its feasibility has become undeniable.

Open science has facilitated rapid and collaborative sharing of scientific knowledge, data, and tools among researchers worldwide, which has led to the development of effective vaccines, treatments, and public health interventions at an unprecedented pace. Scientists and governments have overcome the usual barriers to open science, aligning incentives with social benefit and demonstrating the necessity of collaboration. This has resulted in an unprecedented number of researchers working together towards a common goal, with numerous resources and information sharing technologies at their disposal. Never before have this many researchers across the globe worked together towards one common goal with as many resources and information sharing technologies at their disposal. The unprecedented level of global collaboration and resource allocation during the pandemic has demonstrated the immense potential for scientific progress when researchers work together to achieve a shared objective.

As well as open science, the research community was quick to adapt to COVID19 restrictions, with the majority of conferences effectively adopting a virtual format. This format to eliminate geographical, financial and administrative barriers has increased accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity, providing access to the same groundbreaking information to anyone, at anytime, anywhere.

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