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Providing timely updates of the evidence on particular aspects of COVID-19 in real-time.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has launched a new series of open reviews to provide timely updates of the evidence of particular aspects of COVID-19, in real-time. Systematic and regular searches for studies are undertaken to evaluate their quality and implications, to ensure accuracy and reliability. All review findings are indexed on the Oxford Research Archive.

The reviews include recommendations for health and care policymakers, and the authors suggest reviewing all the evidence provided on a particular study to interpret the study summaries, not just one.

The first of these reviews analyses the transmission dynamics of COVID-19, published on 4 June 2020.

With uncertainty around the characteristics of such a novel disease, the first part of the open evidence synthesis will consist of a search of the evidence and description with tabulation of the findings around the means by which COVID-19 is transmitted. This includes insight around the acceleration or delay in its spread, the mode of transmission and role of asymptomatic infected people.

We are using the evidence to formulate hypothesis on the mechanisms that facilitate rapid spread of COVID and provide policy advice on those strategies that reduce transmission.

The second phase will focus on making more information available and possibly define a mode of transmission or set out a series of hypotheses to be tested by further work.

Because of its importance across public health and its evolving nature, extractions and summaries of all studies around COVID-19 transmission have been made available, and will continue to be updated fortnightly here. There are more than 60 accessible extraction summaries for transmission, and a further 40 are in development.

The team are working on two additional open reviews:

-          Environmental Exposures: evaluating multiple environmental exposures and acute respiratory infection

-          Workplace Exposures: evaluating multiple environmental exposures and acute respiratory infection

All exposures will be grouped into themes to provide a better understanding, highlight the key emerging messages and build a useable, searchable database on the variables of COVID-19.


Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine, Director of Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and the Evidence-Based Health Care Programme 

Annette Pluddemann, Course Director for the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care

Tom Jefferson, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine

Elizabeth Spencer, Researcher

Nia Roberts, Outreach Librarian, Bodleian Library



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