New database of pediatric COVID-19 patients hopes to protect vulnerable children with cancer

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is part of a tech initiative for healthcare professionals specializing in pediatric cancer whose patients have been affected by the coronavirus.

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has partnered with the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) to open a new cloud-based database and resource center for doctors treating some of the most vulnerable COVID-19 patients: Children with cancer.

The Global COVID-19 Observatory and Resource Center for Childhood Cancer combines several COVID-19 resources for medical professionals specializing in treating pediatric cancer, including a resource library, a global registry of pediatric cancer patients infected with COVID-19, and a collaboration space for healthcare professionals.

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The website is the latest in a line of tech-based COVID-19 initiatives that are turning computing power toward fighting the pandemic. 

"Our physicians organized this platform for collecting data, sharing clinical experiences, developing online seminars and workshops, and outlining best practices for treating children with cancer and COVID-19," said St. Jude President and CEO Dr. James R. Downing. 

The database is "a registration and reporting system that uses a secure, cloud-based platform to collect de-identified data from pediatric cancer patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19," St. Jude said in a statement, ensuring it complies with HIPAA and other international privacy standards.

Data in the patient database will include how the patient was treated for COVID-19, which SIOP president Kathy Pritchard-Jones said will inform healthcare provider decision-making and lead to quicker treatment. "The registry is a high-level, first-pass effort to get the information quickly, because what we find out now can guide future interventions. With the data generated by the registry, we will be able to create an observatory to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on childhood cancer care and control."

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The database is only one aspect of the resources St. Jude and SIOP have put together. Like Mount Sinai's Project Florence, St. Jude's website is designed to be a space for healthcare professionals to get COVID-19 training and up-to-the-minute information. 

Weekly webinars will also be hosted on the site with an aim to "discuss difficult issues, address pressing questions, and hear the experiences of our colleagues when it comes to caring for children with cancer during this pandemic." 

Parent and child resources for pediatric cancer patients exposed to COVID-19 are also available. Like many of the other resources, reports, and information available on the site these resources have been translated into a number of languages including English, French, Arabic, and Spanish. 

COVID-19 is often asymptomatic in children, CBS News reports, with one pediatrician suspecting as many as 80% of children may be infected without any signs. There have also been indicators of a serious inflammatory condition in some children hospitalized with COVID-19, and pediatric cancer patients are in a much higher risk pool due to having compromised immune systems.

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Citing the need for cooperation in fighting COVID-19, Pritchard-Jones and St. Jude Global Director Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo said in a statement that websites like the one developed by St. Jude and SIOP are essential for making fast advances. 

"We have each other, and we can join efforts to share experiences and ideas, and collectively create a safer environment for our patients."

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