The German National Pandemic Cohort Network (NAPKON): rationale, study design and baseline characteristics
The German government initiated the Network University Medicine (NUM) in early 2020 to improve national research activities on the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. To this end, 36 German Academic Medical Centers started to collaborate on 13 projects, with the largest being the National Pandemic Cohort Network (NAPKON). The NAPKON's goal is creating the most comprehensive Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cohort in Germany. Within NAPKON, adult and pediatric patients are observed in three complementary cohort platforms (Cross-Sectoral, High-Resolution and Population-Based) from the initial infection until up to three years of follow-up. Study procedures comprise comprehensive clinical and imaging diagnostics, quality-of-life assessment, patient-reported outcomes and biosampling. The three cohort platforms build on four infrastructure core units (Interaction, Biosampling, Epidemiology, and Integration) and collaborations with NUM projects. Key components of the data capture, regulatory, and data privacy are based on the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research. By April 01, 2022, 34 university and 40 non-university hospitals have enrolled 5298 patients with local data quality reviews performed on 4727 (89%). 47% were female, the median age was 52 (IQR 36-62-) and 50 pediatric cases were included. 44% of patients were hospitalized, 15% admitted to an intensive care unit, and 12% of patients deceased while enrolled. 8845 visits with biosampling in 4349 patients were conducted by April 03, 2022. In this overview article, we summarize NAPKON's design, relevant milestones including first study population characteristics, and outline the potential of NAPKON for German and international research activities.