Usher Institute


National Core Studies - Data and Connectivity: COVID-19 Vaccines Pharmacovigilance

DaC-VaP logo

Summary (Research in a nutshell)

This research will look at how safe the COVID-19 vaccines are and how well they work in the general population. It will also look at how many people take up the vaccine when they are offered it. In summary, this form of research is referred to as pharmacovigilancea word used to describe the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding, and prevention of any side effects of a vaccine or drug.

In response to the pandemic, COVID-19 vaccines have been developed. These include the Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Moderna vaccines, which are currently being used across the UK to protect people from the virus. To ensure these vaccines are effective (protecting people from getting COVID-19, or by reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death) the DaC-VaP team are regularly checking vast amounts of health data, that of millions of people who are registered with a general practitioner (GP) in the UK. It is crucial this is regular because some side effects may only be found once more people have been vaccinated, or may develop after a significant period of time. 

The research will use the latest GP, hospital information, and COVID testing data from electronic medical records data in the UK. All records will be processed to remove any details that could identify people, referred to as 'pseudonymised' or 'de-personalised'. The health records without personal details (de-identified data) will be stored safely, and access will be restricted to a small number of approved scientists in secure settings.

The scientists will develop computer programs that will first be run in each of the four nations (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), and then later be combined to give a UK-wide understanding of the vaccination programme. The computer programs will work to link the medical information data from GP records, along with data from hospitals about their COVID-19 patients.

Key people

Name Role Affiliation
Aziz Sheikh Senior Investigator University of Edinburgh / Usher Institute / BREATHE - Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health / EAVE II
Simon de Lusignan Senior Investigator - England University of Oxford / Royal College of General Practitioners Research Surveillance Centre
Chris Robertson Senior Investigator - Scotland University of Strathclyde / EAVE II
Declan Bradley Senior Investigator - Northern Ireland Queen’s University Belfast / Public Health Agency
David Ford Senior Investigator - Wales Swansea University / SAIL Databank / BREATHE- Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health
Antony Chuter Patient and Public Involvement Lead BREATHE- Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health
Jillian Beggs Patient and Public Involvement Lead BREATHE - Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health
Maria Georgiou Project Manager University of Edinburgh


January 2021 - October 2021

Key Collaborations


BREATHE - Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health

EAVE II - Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 study

Health Data Research UK

Queen's University Belfast

Royal College of General Practitioners Research Surveillance Centre

Swansea University

SAIL Databank

University of Oxford

University of Strathclyde

Partners and Funders

Health Data Research UK and Office for National Statistics logos

This research is part of the Data and Connectivity National Core Study, led by Health Data Research UK in partnership with the Office for National Statistics and funded by UK Research and Innovation.

Press and PR

The University of Edinburgh

Tel: +44 (0)7979 446 209



All other enquiries

Project manager: Maria Georgiou, University of Edinburgh


Scientific themes

COVID-19, Vaccine Pharmacovigilance