Pediatric Outcomes imProvement through COordination of Research Networks (POPCORN)
Severe COVID‑19 is rare in children but given the huge number of infected children, COVID‑19 is a major cause of pediatric disease. In addition, some COVID-19-related issues are worse in children, such as the multi system inflammatory syndrome of children (MIS-C), with its heart inflammation (myocarditis). Indirect effects like social, mental health and educational problems due to cancelled school and extracurricular activities also need to be evaluated. Although many groups are doing excellent research on pediatric COVID‑19 in Canada, they each work on a separate aspect of COVID‑19 and have not had an easy way to share information with each other. For example, researchers in pediatric emergency rooms and intensive care units may have enrolled the same child, without even knowing it. To see “the big picture”, we need to link all of the information and be able to follow a child from the beginning to end of their illness. Although the indirect effects of COVID‑19 have likely harmed more children than the infection itself, this area has not been given as much attention. For all these reasons, we will integrate and strengthen the current research on pediatric COVID‑19 across Canada. By doing so, we will also prepare Canada to be able to study other pandemics or diseases in children, rapidly and efficiently, in the future. This initiative is called POPCORN (Pediatric Outcome imProvement through COordination of Research Networks). POPCORN’s main goal is to establish a unified research structure that is able to comprehensively answer important child health questions, starting with COVID-19. POPCORN is made up of the leaders of all the large pediatric COVID‑19 research groups, who will be supported by a coordinating centre along with teams of experts on how to collect, share, and analyse data across studies, and hospitals. As such, POPCORN will be invaluable for protecting Canadian children against COVID-19, as well as whatever health problems will emerge in the future.