COVID-19 is a novel virus that has contributed to a worldwide pandemic unlike any other that most of us have seen in this lifetime. The rapid spread of the disease has shuttered the world’s economy and productivity, but in turn has also sparked a great deal of interest in the scientific community and is the topic of a rapidly growing body of literature. Sciome has recently completed a rapid Evidence Map (rEM) of risk and protective factors in the COVID-19 literature published in early 2020, utilizing a structured framework to summarize this compilation of scientific information, in particular highlighting where there is a wealth of evidence and also where gaps in the literature exist. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence map that explores the available scientific literature related to risk and protective factors for COVID-19.
We have identified promising research areas (e.g., age, gender and comorbidity association with COVID-19) where there exists sufficient literature to potentially inform a follow-up review, such as a systematic review, and other areas (e.g., risk factors in susceptible sub-groups, risk factors in children, protective factors in general) where evidence is lacking where further research may be necessary. The resulting rEM, which was completed within one calendar month, represents a useful tool for quickly synthesizing the COVID-19 literature and identifying resource-rich/resource-poor areas that may benefit from future research as the pandemic evolves over time.
As the COVID-19 literature base is progressing very rapidly, reported risk and protective factors may change as new studies are published (e.g., over 15,000 articles have been added to the CORD-19 dataset since we downloaded references on April 3, 2020). It is our intent to regularly update this evidence map for at least the next six months and to publish further updates of this work, and to host a dashboard on our website where we will post the latest data and project files. This type of “living” review will be an informative tool for researchers to stay up-to-date with the latest scientific knowledge on this important topic and potentially allow for the tracking of trends in this field over time.