Usher Institute

New global collaborative to enable secure COVID-19 data research at scale

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator has announced a grant to Health Data Research UK to establish a new International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance and Workbench to support the rapid development of insights and treatments to fight the pandemic.

The International Alliance will be supported by a data analysis Workbench, providing a trustworthy platform to access data for collaborative data science. The Workbench will connect to regional and national data infrastructures, including BREATHE - the Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health.

Accelerating collaboration, discovery and development of insights and treatments

Many organisations across the world are conducting studies into COVID-19 and generating data that, when pooled together and reanalysed, can lead to powerful insights that help accelerate the discovery of interventions. However, the data are often siloed, making it difficult for researchers to share and collaborate quickly to leverage the expertise and capabilities of 21st century research and analysis.

The International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance and Workbench will provide an environment for focused collaborative research, matching high value data from many sources with cutting edge analysis to accelerate collaboration, discovery and development of insights and treatments to combat COVID-19, all with privacy and accessibility in mind.

BREATHE and Generation Scotland part of new International Alliance

The International Alliance is an independent consortium of leading life science, philanthropic and research organisations uniting to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Convened by Health Data Research UK, the International Alliance will draw on expertise and work in partnership with the established UK Health Data Research Alliance, to align members to a common set of principles and standards for the ethical and responsible use of data for public benefit.

Secure and safe access to high quality health data is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. Supported by BREATHE, health data are being used to inform decisions on the management of the virus across the UK. We are delighted to join forces with the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to help meet the data needs of decision makers, clinicians and academics internationally, as part of this important collaboration.

Aziz SheikhDirector, BREATHE

We re-aligned Generation Scotland rapidly in the wake of COVID-19. Our volunteers have been quick to respond to our requests for information on their COVID-19 experience, particularly with respect to their mental health and wellbeing, and the social and economic measures taken to control the pandemic. We are delighted to join the COVID-19 research alliance towards effective resolution of this pandemic.

David PorteousPrincipal Investigator, Generation Scotland

The founding members of the International Alliance bring their collective data assets, expertise and funding, and include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Minderoo Foundation, Wellcome, African Academy of Sciences, HDR Network Canada, Genomics England, and the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory. 

The UK has established a robust infrastructure for uniting, improving, and using health data for research and innovation. We are excited to build on this experience of our community and partners to support this vital global effort against COVID-19 and future outbreaks.

Recent controversies about the safety and effectiveness of new treatments in the treatment of COVID-19 highlight the need for the international community to work in partnership to analyze rapidly the results of multiple clinical trials at scale. The International Alliance aims to enable this in a trustworthy way. We look forward to working in partnership with, and learning from, colleagues internationally.

Graham SpittleChair, Health Data Research UK

The grant has been issued by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a large-scale initiative led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, Mastercard and Minderoo Foundation to speed the development of and access to therapies for COVID-19.

Related links

International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance and Workbench website

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announcement

HDR UK announcement

Health Data Research Innovation Gateway

BREATHE -The Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health

Generation Scotland