Limitations of COVID-19 testing and case data for evidence-informed health policy and practice Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became a pandemic within a matter of months. Analysing the first year of the pandemic, data and surveillance gaps have subsequently surfaced. Yet, policy decisions and public trust in their country‚Äôs strategies in combating COVID-19 rely on case numbers, death numbers and other unfamiliar metrics. There are many limitations on COVID-19 case counts internationally, which make cross-country comparisons of raw data and policy responses difficult. Purpose and conclusions This paper presents and describes steps in the testing and reporting process, with examples from a number of countries of barriers encountered in each step, all of which create an undercount of COVID-19 cases. This work raises factors to consider in COVID-19 data and provides recommendations to inform the current situation with COVID-19 as well as issues to be aware of in future pandemics.


  • Alvarez, Elizabeth
  • Bielska, Iwona
  • Hopkins, Stephanie
  • Belal, Ahmed A
  • Goldstein, Donna M
  • Slick, Jean
  • Pavalagantharajah, Sureka
  • Wynfield, Anna
  • Dakey, Shruthi
  • Gedeon, Marie-Carmel
  • Alam, Edris
  • Bouzanis, Katrina

publication date

  • January 25, 2023