Sunway University Researchers Work to Advance World’s First Holistic and Comprehensive Index on COVID-19


As the world is grappling with Covid-19, there is a slew of news, data, and opinions on the pandemic. With so much going around, Sunway University is collaborating with PEMANDU Associates and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Malaysia on the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI), a method to consolidate data on the pandemic from verified sources of 184 countries into a comprehensive index which governments, businesses, and communities can refer to.

With the GCI, countries will be able to compare their performance with that of other countries that are performing better to identify best practices and efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic. Updated daily, the GCI includes data on the rate of recovery, active cases, and the number of tests conducted.

The GCI also considers countries’ previously evaluated ability to detect, respond, and treat infections of any epidemic based on the publicly available Global Health Security Index published in October 2019. The GCI can be used to track recoveries in countries of neighboring regions, monitor when restrictions can be relaxed for possible easing of border restrictions.

According to Professor Peh Suat Cheng, Professor of Pathology and Dean, School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences at Sunway University, “We are currently deriving data that produces insights that can help governments and societies identify emerging trends from the GCI. For example, we have identified that countries that have high ambient temperatures and low latitudes appear to have low COVID-19 case fatality rates which can serve to inform policy decisions and epidemiological research.”

Researchers from the School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences will also look into developing their own research papers using the data from GCI and other multivariate statistical analysis, machine learning, and mathematical modeling data from researchers at the University’s School of Mathematical Sciences.

The GCI encompasses the Severity Index and the Recovery Index. “The Country Severity Index is a measure of how severely impacted the Country has been since the outbreak from a healthcare perspective as it takes into consideration the total number of confirmed cases and total proportionate death due to COVID19 since the outbreak commenced. These contribute 70% of its weightage and behaves more like a ‘scarring parameter’, which tells us whether the country is recovering from a lower case/death toll or a higher one. It is not a measure of current ongoing severity. The Severity Index also takes into consideration the overall Healthcare Preparedness by utilizing a 30% weightage assigned to pre-existing static sub-indicators completed by the Global Health Security Index (GHS) previously. We are in the midst of improving and potentially replacing the latter static indicators through our engagements with the World Health Organisation”, said Woody Ang, Executive Vice President at PEMANDU Associates.

The Recovery Index measures how well a country is handling the crisis from a health and safety perspective. Professor Serge Demidenko, Dean of the School of Science and Technology at Sunway University said his researchers have been interested to provide specialist support in Computer Database Technologies and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Data Analytics aiming to not just analyze past data, but also forecast and model future trends.

“During this Covid-19 time, AI and Analytics will allow us to use available data to understand the impact of the pandemic better and thus to assist to propose appropriate solutions. Our academics are available to team up with collaborators both locally and internationally to explore new recovery solutions for the post- COVID-19 world”, said Professor Serge.

The GCI has enabled best practice analysis in the form of the Global Pathfinder: Global Lessons in Tackling COVID-19, a 118-page detailed report on best practices in health interventions for COVID-19 which was a collaboration that PEMANDU Associates undertook with the UK-Based Delivery Associates. The report is available here.

The Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) is an international collaboration between Sunway University, PEMANDU Associates, and Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) Malaysia.