Bernarda Zamora

Dr Bernarda Zamora joined OHE in 2015. She has participated in several projects involving econometric and qualitative research. Her main interests focus on the impact of HTA on access and financing of health. She has worked on frameworks for assessing the potential value contribution of medical diagnostics, access to orphan drugs, cost-effectiveness, and a variety of research and consulting projects.

Prior to joining OHE in 2015, Bernarda has worked in Spanish and British academia and international organisations. She holds a PhD in Economics from the University Carlos III of Madrid and a Certificate in Quantitative Finance from Fitch Learning.

This is the second in a two-part series. Read part one . The link between clinical and social aspects of COVID-19 raises the question of what type of data are needed to manage the COVID-19 surge and better absorb shocks that may be caused by future pandemics. We believe clinical patient level data are essential given the different ways the disease has developed for different patients. There are many questions up in the air that need to be answered in order to prepare better for future pandemics and to treat the disease. If testing and analysis is done in a harmonised way across the EU countries, data from different tests can be compared. And if these data are combined with demographic, social, health and other relevant characteristics it will bring additional value by understanding the framework for the disease and perhaps also indicate a more efficient treatment through personalisation. This will require a number of things: Developing testing in a diagnostic context linking patient data, such as registries, to additional sources of data to be able to follow up the development of the disease in the medium- and long-terms. Establishing a common framework that allows for meaningful comparison across borders – from health system to health system. If it cannot be done quickly enough at a global level, it should be possible to do it at a European level. Establishing common ways of interpreting data (preferably through a harmonised approach at EU level) in order to maximize the value of the treatment for the patient, for the health systems, and for our societies. A communication published by the European Commission in July identified EU-wide sharing of clinical, epidemiological, virological data through an EU COVID-19 data sharing platform as one of action areas to ensure the short-term EU health preparedness for...
The power of diagnostics information ( VODI ) to public health and society was a topic of keen interest even before the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic offers us fresh lessons on how health systems can harness this value. Many of us will recall one of the earliest recommendation from the Director General of the WHO during the pandemic: test, test, test . In our view, testing played a key role in healthcare systems’ response to COVID-19. From the earliest weeks of the pandemic, Germany and South Korea stood out in managing outbreaks relatively well. Besides having very resilient healthcare systems with high laboratory capacity and trained staff, they were also doing better than most countries because they had the resources to test widely at an early stage. As a consequence they have also suffered lower case fatality rates than comparable countries. Despite the rapid development of diagnostic tests, most countries lacked the necessary personnel, equipment, and infrastructures to be able to cover the needs caused by the surge of severe COVID-19 cases. Yet, the wide deployment of diagnostics has helped to control this surge in countries which supported appropriate reimbursement policies for diagnostics and antibody tests. Social measures, including the design of lockdown protocols and the progressive return to the “new normal”, have been informed by the effectiveness with which diagnostics were deployed. Border policy has been linked to the availability of, and free access to, rapid testing at airports. This has been facilitated in some high-income countries such as Denmark, and in some low- and middle-income countries, such as Senegal. So, how can we better harness the value of diagnostic information for more personalized care in future? The urgency of controlling the surge of COVID-19 cases has made it necessary to prioritise the immediate consequences of the tests, those...