The History of EAVE II
EAVE began as a study on pandemic swine flu in Scotland, quickly adapting to become EAVE II for analysing and monitoring COVID-19.
The first EAVE study was set up during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. It used health data from a group of 227,000 people from 40 general practices (GPs) across Scotland to assess the effectiveness of vaccines in Scotland.
At this time, EAVE stood for Early estimation of vaccine and Anti-Viral Effectiveness
This was an important piece of work which has contributed to our understanding of pandemics, and specifically the swine flu pandemic of 2009-2010. However, due to the time it typically takes to set up brand new studies, analyse data and publish results, the team were not able to deliver its findings until 2012. This was too late to have an impact on government policy because the pandemic was already over. Realising its potential for future use, fortunately, the platform did not simply cease to exist after this date - the team gained permission to place it into hibernation, so future responses could be faster.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, researchers from the University of Edinburgh were able to snap into action and re-awaken the the EAVE platform.
Thus, the EAVE II (Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19) study was established, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is part of the NIHR Pandemic Preparedness Research Portfolio.
The key masterstroke in all of this was the decision of Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer of England at the time, who granted the resources to put the platform into hibernation rather than scrapping it altogether. This meant, in the event of another pandemic, we wouldn't have to start from scratch.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke, we entered a bid to use the platform to help combat it, and not only were we told by Public Health Scotland that they wanted it to be used as part of the national response, but they also wanted it scaled up. Rather than a quarter of a million people like last time, they wanted the whole population of Scotland included.
Since coming out of hibernation, the EAVE surveillance platform has swiftly become a crucial tool in the Scottish and UK governments’ responses to the pandemic, providing relevant and critical data on the spread of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of vaccinations.