Pharmacoepidemiology in the era of COVID-19

How to interpret research into the effects of medicines

Overview - Pharmacoepi in the era of COVID-19 Short Course

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been unprecedented interest in the performance of medicines, with wide coverage of studies examining their effectiveness in both traditional and social media. As vaccine development progresses at speed, monitoring vaccine efficacy and potential side effects after roll-out is of utmost importance to ensure vaccine safety and to maintain public confidence.

This course will introduce the various study designs, data sources, and methods used to investigate whether a number of already licensed and widely used medicines are effective in preventing or treating COVID-19, and introduce the skills necessary to critically evaluate and interpret the findings, as reported in both scientific journals and the media.

Course objectives

  1. To introduce key concepts of pharmacoepidemiology with a focus on studies related to COVID-19
  2. To develop and apply the skills to critically appraise published trials and observational studies evaluating medicines for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19
  3. To understand how vaccines for COVID-19 have been developed and how their safety and efficacy will be assessed

    What topics will you cover?

    • Introduction to pharmacoepidemiology in the COVID-19 era
    • Overview of study designs for pharmacoepidemiology, including randomised trials, cohort, case-control, ecological, and others
    • Introduction on how to consider issues of bias and confounding 
    • Critical appraisal of clinical trials and observational studies examining hydroxychloroquine, antihypertensives, anticoagulants, and steroids and more
    • Overview of COVID-19 vaccine development and surveillance
    • Discussion of the role of traditional and modern media outlets in shaping our understanding of the evidence during the COVID-19 pandemic

    This course draws on material from our long-standing and popular distance-learning and face-to-face short courses in pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacovigilance and will focus on the large body of COVID-19 research being undertaken by researchers at LSHTM and internationally. This course will use treatments for COVID-19, with varying degrees of evidence, as examples to teach core concepts for critically appraising published trials and observational studies.

    All teaching is online and consists of self-study material using pre-recorded lectures and synchronous live sessions. Participants will be sent a link to access the course material before the course begins.

    Tentative schedule

    Day 1

    • Introduction to pharmacoepidemiology in the COVID-19 era
    • Epidemiological study designs and measures of effect
    • Principles of bias and confounding 

    Day 2

    • Clinical trials for potential COVID-19 treatments
    • Cohort studies

    Day 3

    • Case-control studies
    • Cross-sectional and ecological studies

    Day 4

    • COVID-19 vaccine development and surveillance
    • Future of pharmacoepidemiologic research in COVID-19 

    Tentative synchronous live sessions: 10:30-17:00 GMT, with a break from 13:00-14:30 GMT and multiple 15-minute breaks. View the detailed timetable

    Who should apply? 

    This introductory course is designed for individuals interested in learning the basics of pharmacoepidemiology through studies of the effects of medicines in relation to COVID-19. There are no formal pre-requisites for this course, but some scientific or medical background would be beneficial. Applicants should have a good command of English.

    Who will you learn with? 

    The core teaching faculty for this course are from LSHTM and include (in alphabetical order):

    Several pre-recorded and live sessions will also be delivered by international experts from regulatory, pharmaceutical, and public health fields, to be determined in the near future and updated here.


      There is no formal assessment but, at the conclusion of the course, a certificate of attendance will be provided.

      How to apply
      How to apply - Pharmacoepi COVID-19

      Applying for this course

      Applications are now closed. You can register your interest and we will let you know when applications reopen.  

      Please read LSHTM's Admissions policies prior to submitting your application.

      Course fees 

      Fees for the online course:

      • Full fee £250
      • Students £125
      • LMIC £50 

      Discounts are available to University and College students, as well as applicants from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Please upload supporting evidence of student or LMIC status during the application process instead of your CV, eligible documents include: 

      • Students - a copy of your student card, or letter from your educational institute confirming your status
      • LMIC (eligible countries) - a copy of your valid travel document, passport or identity document