Launching Cochrane COVID Rapid Reviews

Posted on 3rd April 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing a large-scale public health crisis. Despite gaps in our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), public health experts and clinicians have to make decisions on a daily basis. As a leading institution in the field of evidence synthesis, Cochrane should and must respond accordingly.

Cochrane COVID Rapid Reviews seek to provide rapid evidence-based information to clinicians, policy makers, and the public to inform decision making during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Cochrane is building a bank of questions for COVID-19 reviews. These questions have come from Cochrane Groups and users, as well as external stakeholders such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Frequent screening searches are being performed to identify evidence syntheses underway or published elsewhere, to reduce duplication of effort, and questions are being prioritized and refined. Those questions identified as highest priority are receiving support to be completed as Cochrane Rapid Reviews.

The COVID-19 situation is moving and evolving at an extraordinary pace. Cochrane Rapid Reviews take on this time-sensitive challenge and provide evidence syntheses quickly. Experienced, top-level Cochrane author teams from around the world have volunteered to donate their time to achieve this undertaking. Cochrane is assisting these efforts by coordinating with author teams, aiding literature searches, as well as providing logistical and methodological support. Our streamlined templates facilitate the efforts of author teams to conduct reviews with speed and efficiency while maintaining high methodological standards. We are also providing a fast-track editorial service for quality assurance within one week of reviews being submitted, and to complete the editorial process within two weeks. Cochrane with also support the update of these rapid reviews if and when more relevant evidence becomes available.

COVID Rapid Reviews forms part of a wider response from Cochrane to the pandemic. For information about the full programme of work underway relating to COVID-19, please see here

What is a rapid review?

Rapid reviews can take many forms. The Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group has proposed the following definition:

"A form of knowledge synthesis that accelerates the process of conducting a traditional systematic review through streamlining or omitting specific methods to produce evidence for stakeholders in a resource-efficient manner.”

Now more than ever, the importance of producing reliable, high-quality rapid evidence synthesis is vital. We seek the support of the scientific community in these collaborative efforts. 

Best wishes,

Karla Soares-Weiser
Editor in Chief of the Cochrane Library

Gerald Gartlehner
Co-convener Rapid Reviews Methods Group and Director of Cochrane Austria