Missed Opportunities of Making a Real IMPACT By Early COVID-19 Studies

Aditi Bhargava
7 min readDec 7, 2023

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions associated with COVID-19 illness were recognized as critical health issues that contributed to morbidity and mortality in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients. COVID-19 symptoms overlap with other well-characterized viral infections, including the flu; thus, it is important that peer-reviewed and published data reports for COVID-19 patients do not include patients that are in fact SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)-negative. Several risk factors have been identified that determine the progression of mild COVID-19 to a severe and critical stage. These risk factors include, but are not limited to, old age, male sex, pre-existing comorbidities such as chronic lung, heart, liver, and kidney diseases, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, tumors, immunodeficiencies, and pregnancy. However, hardly any published studies consider these important variables when analyzing data from COVID-19 patients. Below, I discuss some of our findings from re-analyzing early COVID-19 patient data collected between March — May 2020 by Yale University researchers and published as two separate papers in the journal Nature. We published our re-analysis of this Yale data in a study titled “Immunological Misfiring and Sex Differences/Similarities in Early COVID-19 Studies: Missed Opportunities of Making a Real IMPACT” and found that the analyses in the original two Nature papers overlooked many valuable findings, especially about early COVID-19 treatments, that if reported, could have helped focus on other treatments as well as focus on at-risk population, rather than subject everyone to same treatment, regardless of symptoms. Here, I report excerpts from our publication.

Summary of re-analysis of IMPACT Cohort Data as reported by Bhargava A and Knapp JD. Early studies are confounded due to inclusion of SARS-CoV-2-negative patients. Studies also failed to consider several important biological variables present in the dataset.

“Data from COVID-19 patients when several early treatments were being tested are highly valuable. The Yale IMPACT cohort is one such study that collected clinical data and biological samples from COVID-19 patients that were hospitalized in early 2020. The IMPACT cohort data reported in two Nature studies are confounded by the inclusion of several SARS-CoV-2-negative patients. In addition, there were many important biological variables in the IMPACT cohort that were not considered in the data presented in the original articles. The patients included in the Yale IMPACT cohort had considerable variability in days…

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Aditi Bhargava

Dr. Aditi Bhargava is a molecular neuroendocrinologist with research focus on sex differences in stress biology and immunology.