ECHO Program’s Response to COVID-19

ECHO’s approach to innovative research practices in the era of COVID-19

As the novel coronavirus epidemic continues to affect our global and national communities, ECHO is committed to protecting the health and safety of its staff and participants while advancing our mission of enhancing the health of children for generations to come. In addition to following guidance from our national and local governments, many of our studies are, at least temporarily, limiting activities to those that they can do at a distance.

In response, ECHO Program researchers are working together to use innovative approaches to keep research going during and after the current limits on in-person interactions.

Many ECHO cohorts are moving toward collecting data from a distance. Fortunately, the ECHO-wide Cohort protocol includes data, such as online, mail and phone surveys, as well as sample collection by mail, that cohorts can collect remotely.  Ongoing ECHO IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) clinical trials, while currently paused, are also considering remote options for consent, data gathering, and interventions themselves.

In these ways, ECHO is responding to the ongoing pandemic by introducing new ways of conducting research, some of which may very well continue once the pandemic is under better control.

ECHO’s contribution to COVID-19 research

ECHO is also joining with researchers around the world to contribute to understanding how COVID-19 affects pregnant women and children.

ECHO researchers are working together in record time to incorporate COVID-19 research in ongoing and new studies. This work is being led by two COVID-19 task forces, one for ECHO Cohorts and one for ECHO ISPCTN

The cohort task force is co-chaired by ECHO investigators Tracy Bastain, PhD, and Carrie Breton, PhD, and made up of 23 ECHO study investigators and representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This task force quickly created questionnaires to study effects on health outcomes of being infected, as well as the psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of living during the time of the pandemic. This task force created several versions of the questionnaires, for adult caregivers, pregnant women, and teens. To view these questionnaires and learn more about how the task force developed them , please visit the NIH website.

The ISPCTN task force, chaired by Paul Palumbo, MD, includes 8 members with a range of expertise that includes pediatric infectious diseases, perinatal transmission of disease, and vaccine delivery. The goal of the ISPCTN task force is to identify specific COVID-19-related content areas for which the Network could develop and implement intervention trials.

ECHO’s next steps during COVID-19

As the pandemic continues to evolve, The ECHO Program Office is closely monitoring its many aspects. We will continue to prioritize the needs of our staff and participants while exploring opportunities for innovation in research practices and in ECHO science. Thank you for your continued support of the ECHO Program.