Researchers at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health in Marshfield Clinic Research Institute will be assessing the medical records of anyone diagnosed with or testing positive for COVID-19 to determine what health conditions put people at most risk for serious COVID-19 disease.

The study will be conducted using the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a network of seven integrated health care systems across the U.S., including Marshfield Clinic Health System. It is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Vaccine Safety Datalink systematically analyzes data from all sites to investigate safety issues potentially associated with licensed vaccines.

“The Vaccine Safety Datalink has a study population of about 12 million people, which permits investigation of infrequent or rare adverse events following a vaccination that didn't show up in the smaller clinical trials," said Ed Belongia, M.D., director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health and co-principal investigator of the study. “We are now using this same network to conduct large scale research of COVID-19."

The study will analyze the medical records of patients to see if comorbidities such as diabetes, lung and heart conditions put people at increased risk of a severe COVID-19 case that could lead to hospitalization and death in some cases.

Researchers also say this study will lay the groundwork to measure the effectiveness and safety of future COVID-19 vaccines.

“Surveillance research like this is an important first step in understanding COVID-19 and will provide valuable information now and for future research," said Dr. Belongia.