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Enabling a Platform to Speed COVID-19 Vaccine Development

IQVIA’s analytics and data science technology help scientists work faster and more collaboratively.


Sr. Research Analyst


January 2022

Technology played a critical role in the development of COVID-19 vaccines. IQVIA, a contract research organization, was an important contributor to addressing the global pandemic, providing the tools and data science insights that helped accelerate the development of vaccines.

IQVIA is a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions, and contract research services to the life sciences industry. It leverages the analytic rigor of data science to enable companies to bring new approaches to the development and commercialization of healthcare treatments. The firm also funds the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which delivers objective insights and research to government agencies, academic institutions, and the life science industry.

Accelerating the Development and Delivery of Treatment and Vaccines

IQVIA was involved in a multipronged effort to help speed up the development of effective treatments for COVID-19. It played a key part in 11 trials and studies around the world, including a joint venture with Quest Diagnostics. It also collaborated with the University of Texas Medical Branch to develop a test to determine how effectively a potential vaccine could protect someone from COVID-19.1

Additionally, the firm established a patient registry in which people who had COVID-19 could voluntarily enter basic demographic information about themselves, along with descriptions of their symptoms and medical history. That information helped scientists and researchers track the prevalence of the disease, the progression of symptoms, and the effectiveness of treatments.2

The firm also developed a matching tool to help researchers identify patients appropriate for participation in clinical trials as treatments were tested.3

The firm partnered with the U.K. government to provide its clinical research capabilities, scientific expertise, innovative technologies, and advanced data analytics to clinicians, epidemiologists, and statisticians. Making a single research platform available to multiple organizations looking for effective treatments helped accelerate the development process.4

IQVIA also waived the fees on two of its proprietary technologies so that academic researchers around the world could use its tools in the work to find a treatment for the virus.5

Using Data Science to Better Understand the Disease

IQVIA used data science to understand the disease, its progression, and the outcomes of mitigation efforts. It used artificial intelligence to help track the disease’s transmission and to predict patterns of its future spread. The firm also participated in a global hackathon to assess real-world data and predictive models of the disease. Patient apps developed by IQVIA helped ensure that there could be reliable sharing of information about the disease.

Delivering Timely Analysis on Global and Local Market Impacts

Throughout the crisis, IQVIA provided more than 18 weekly reports, as well as daily reports on what was happening with the disease in specific countries. It offered 22 webinars on a range of topics, including the impact of the pandemic on local pharmaceutical markets, non-COVID trials and treatments, and business continuity.

The firm produced in-depth reports on the pandemic’s impact on relationships with healthcare providers, on supply chains, and on the use of medicines. Senior executives at the firm initiated and continue to provide regular updates that deliver objective, evidence-based perspective on the pandemic and its medical and economic impact. They also offer their thoughts on what to expect in a post-pandemic world and how lessons learned from dealing with the virus could impact future healthcare research and delivery.

Donations of Materials and Expertise

IQVIA didn’t hesitate to offer its support in every way possible to address the myriad challenges the pandemic presented. It donated more than 4,000 masks to healthcare workers.6 The firm also advised governments on how to respond to the crisis and manage the associated risks. It helped redeploy clinical trial educators and nurses to provide in-home support to COVID-19 patients and educated these workers on how to use devices, like ventilators, that were essential in the care delivered to these patients.

A Key Player in Operation Warp Speed

In May 2020, the U.S. government launched Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Normally, vaccines take 10-to-15 years to develop.
Like other contract research organizations, IQVIA knew it would need not only to rethink how it deployed its resources but to greatly increase those resources to help the research organizations and medical review entities engaged in the race to find a treatment for COVID-19.7

To help launch studies on the effectiveness of potential COVID-19 vaccines, IQVIA partnered with the regulatory review company Advarra to handle institutional biosafety committee (IBC) and institutional review board processes. (The National Institutes of Health requires an IBC to be established at any institution conducting research with recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.)

In July 2020, IQVIA also announced it was collaborating with AstraZeneca on a COVID-19 vaccine.8 While that vaccine has not yet won approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it has been widely used in Europe. It has also been deemed safe by the European Medicines Agency, and it is one of the COVID-19 vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization.9

Helping States Determine When They Could Reopen

As states got ready to end lockdowns and business and school closings, IQVIA developed a Reopening Readiness Index to help states determine how ready they were to resume public gathering at businesses and schools.10 The readiness index took into account five factors—the reproduction rate of the virus, the degree to which testing reached beyond symptomatic patients, the amount of testing per capita, the state’s contact tracing capabilities, and the quality of the data used to track hotspot outbreaks and the level of spread or containment of the disease within the state. The firm also helped track how ready people were to resume using healthcare services, including doctors’ office visits and elective procedures, for care not related to COVID-19.

A Total Commitment

From the outset of the pandemic, IQVIA worked to mobilize its people, capabilities, and resources to understand the disease, accelerate treatments, and help communities around the globe address the impact of the virus.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Sands Capital six investment criteria tend to lead us to businesses that are innovators or vital facilitators of change in industries undergoing significant transformation. IQVIA is one of many portfolio businesses that create impact by addressing at least one major social or environmental challenge identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IQVIA’s efforts on COVID-19 contribute to SDG 3, Good Health and Well Being

1 “Q² Solutions, an IQVIA and Quest Diagnostics Joint Venture, Collaborates with University of Texas Medical Branch to Help Accelerate Development of COVID-19 Vaccines”
2 “IQVIA Launches Broad, Open COVID-19 Registry Platform to Advance Understanding, Collaboration, and Research” 
3 “IQVIA Launches First Technology-Enabled COVID-19 Trial Matching Solution within the U.S. to Accelerate Treatment and Vaccine Development”
4 “IQVIA Joins UK Government Collaboration To Find COVID-19 Treatments”
5 “IQVIA Human Data Science Research Collaborative Initiative Waives Data Access Fees for Academic Researchers”
6 “Committed to doing our part”
7 “Warp Speed initiative send COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials into hyperdrive, new research shows,” FierceBiotech, 6/17/21
8 “IQVIA and AstraZeneca Team Up to Support Development of Potential COVID-19 Vaccine”
9 “What You Should Know About the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine,”
10 “Reopening the U.S. Healthcare System: Tracking the Pandemic, Reopening Readiness and Health Services Utilization”


The business profiled was selected based on its reported alignment with one or more U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The views expressed are the opinion of Sands Capital Management and are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The views expressed were current as of the date indicated and are subject to change. This material may contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside of Sands Capital’s control. Readers should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. All investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee that Sands Capital will meet its stated goals. Past performance is not indicative of future results. A company’s fundamentals or earnings growth is no guarantee that its share price will increase. Forward earnings projections are not predictors of stock price or investment performance, and do not represent past performance. The specific securities identified and described do not represent all the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. There is no assurance that any security will continue to be owned by Sands Capital Management. You should not assume that any investment is or will be profitable. All company logos and website images are used for illustrative purposes only and were obtained directly from the company websites. Company logos and website images are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and use of a logo does not imply any connection between Sands Capital and the company. GIPS® Reports and additional disclosures for the related composites may be found at Sands Capital GIPS Report.

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