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EAVE Surveillance Platform

The EAVE surveillance platform is being used to track COVID-19 across Scotland, to identify those at highest risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes and investigate vaccine effectiveness and safety. It is therefore an essential resource in Scotland’s response to the pandemic.

The EAVE surveillance platform (sometimes referred to as the EAVE II cohort) contains key information relevant to COVID-19 for all 5.4 million individuals registered with a general practice (GP) in Scotland from 23 February 2020 – approximately 98-99% of the Scottish population.

The EAVE II team set up one of the first national scale healthcare surveillance platforms in the world, allowing trained, approved researchers to understand more about the COVID-19 pandemic across the whole population, in near real-time.

What sorts of data does the platform contain?

In this video, Senior EAVE II Data Analyst Dr Steven Kerr explains the structure and set up of the EAVE platform (here referred to at the EAVE II cohort or dataset).

Video: Data Infrastructure of EAVE II
Dr Steven Kerr, Senior Data Analyst for EAVE II discusses the project's data infrastructure: what types of data EAVE II uses, where it comes from and how it is kept safe. This video was recorded as part of a webinar for the EAVE II Connected Project DaC-VaP-2.

What makes this platform unique?

In Scotland, everyone registered with a GP has a unique reference number called a CHI (Community Health Index) number. This makes it much easier for many kinds of health data from different sources to be securely linked together by experts to create a full picture of what is happening across Scotland. This includes information from GP consultations, prescriptions, out-of-hours consultations, use of accident and emergency, hospital admissions, deaths, and results from COVID-19 tests.

Because the EAVE platform covers almost everyone in Scotland, such a large group allows the team to explore the effect of COVID-19 on sub-groups, such as people with specific medical conditions, ethnic minorities, age groups, sex, affluence, and other characteristics. Where a group is shown to be at increased risk, appropriate tailored responses can be considered.

The CHI number - NHS Research Scotland website

Why do we need near real-time, real-world data?

Analysis of health care data collected in the real world as part of routine service provision can take time to both set up and manage. This often means analyses use already out-of-date information, which is not good enough for tracking and monitoring a fast-changing pandemic.

By keeping the cohorts data up to date with the latest information, the team can provide analyses that are relevant to inform current decisions. The University of Edinburgh is pleased to be working directly with Public Health Scotland to support this initiative to monitor, understand, and provide evidence to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in near real-time. 

Can anyone get access to the data?

No. Data within the platform are only available to trained and approved analysts who sign up to agreed, secure ways of working.

How are the data kept safe?

The study is using established data security principles and processes to keep information secure.

EAVE II analysts do not have access to view personal medical records, and do not know the identities of any individuals. The information is grouped into broad categories and any information that could identify individuals is removed. All data are securely stored within Public Health Scotland. Only approved researchers working to answer priority research questions on COVID-19 can use the data.

The cohort's data is updated frequently throughout the course of the project. For example, information about individuals who permanently leave Scotland (and de-register from GPs) will be removed.

The Public Health Scotland privacy notice explains how data is kept safe.

The EAVE II team is committed to being transparent and open about the study’s use of health care data for supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response. We have a Public Advisory Group who collaborate with EAVE II analysts, including two members who sit on the EAVE II Steering Group.

Find out more about the EAVE II Public Advisory Group

How has EAVE II helped the COVID-19 pandemic response?

Work from the EAVE II team has directly fed into Scottish and UK Government policies and planning, as well as provided key information for other bodies – Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and the public – such as the confirmation that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective.

Find out more about how EAVE II's findings have been used to inform policy decision making

Find out more about how EAVE II findings have been discussed in the media

Study approvals

EAVE II has been given approval from:

  • National Research Ethics Service Committee, Southeast Scotland 02.
  • Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for Health and Social Care – HSC-PBPP
  • NHS Research & Development (R&D) permission for all NHS Health Boards in Scotland (NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Fife, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, NHS Highland, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Lothian, NHS Orkney, NHS Grampian, NHS Borders, NHS Western Isles, NHS Shetland, NHS Tayside).

Read more about the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for Health and Social Care

Where can I find out more?

For more information, refer to the published EAVE II protocol.