HELICONference: Data needs during the COVID-19 crisis

Last updated on 23-2-2022 by Wesley Van Dessel

Wed, 27/04/2022 - 12:00 to 13:30


The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the scientific community. Belgian researchers have increasingly gained insight in procedures and tools needed to navigate this crisis and in this process, data has been vital to understand, manage and prevent the spread of the virus and its pervasive consequences. With creative approaches and unique collaborations, several data problems have been solved successfully. Other data needs, however, have remained unfulfilled. 
This webinar focusses on potential obstacles and gaps in the available Belgian research infrastructure but it also provides examples of innovative data use and research opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis. This knowledge may be instrumental for the ongoing COVID-19 research, as well as for managing potential future health crises. Together with leading data experts, we also discuss the challenging balancing act between data accessibility and data security.


12h00 Welcome and introduction
12h05 Pandemic preparedness: the need for better data from a modelling perspective
            Prof. Dr. Niel Hens (University Hasselt and University Antwerp)

Niel Hens received a master degree in mathematics and a master of science and PhD degree in biostatistics. Since 2009 he is holder of the chair of evidence-based vaccinology at the University of Antwerp. He published work at the intersection between statistics and mathematical epidemiology focussed on bridging the gap between mathematical and statistical methods in infectious disease epidemiology. Niel Hens is the current director of the Data Science Institute at Hasselt University. He currently coordinates the H2020 EpiPose project aimed at studying the covid-19 pandemic, he participates as PI in the H2020 VERDI project aimed at studying the impact of COVID-19 in children and pregnant women, and he is advising the Belgian government on managing the COVID-19 pandemic (former member of the GEES, current member of GEMS).

12h25 European perspective on COVID-19 data and comparability
            Petronille Bogaert (Sciensano)

Petronille Bogaert is head of the EU health information systems Unit at Sciensano, Belgium. Her work primarily focusses on European research projects in the area of population health information.  She is Principle Investigator of the Population Health Information Research Infrastructure for COVID-19 and is heavily involved in the Joint Action Towards the European Health Data Space and other European projects such as HealthyCloud and BY-COVID. She is a graduate from a double European Master of Public Health. Additionally, she also holds a Bsc and Msc in Biomedical Sciences and is PhD candidate at Tilburg University specializing in European Health Information Systems. She is president of the EUPHA section on Public Health Monitoring and Reporting and she sits in the ESCAIDE Scientific Committee.

12h45 Data protection and research in (post-) COVID times
            David Stevens (Belgian Data Protection Authority)

David Stevens is director at the Belgian Data Protection Authority. Before becoming the first chairman of the DPA, David Stevens was Data Protection Officer at Telenet and Nielsen. David has more than 20 years of expertise in law and IT. He started his career as a researcher of the “Center for Intellectual Property and ICT Law (CiTiP)” at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He defended his thesis in 2009 on the subject of the independence of the regulatory authorities in the telecommunications and media sector.

13h05 Closing remarks
            Patrick Lusyne (STATBEL)

Patrick Lusyne works at Statistics Belgium for 18 years. With a background in sociology, he started his career in the department of social surveys, but evolved into a driving force behind the production and valorization of much used administrative data such as Demobel (demographic data) and Census. Throughout his career, he has been involved in data collection, management and governance, innovation and dissemination. Recently he was appointed as Statbel’s first ever data steward.

13h10 Discussion

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