Health Data Research UK has launched a £2m fund to better understand Covid-19 through data and advanced analytics.

The funding call is part of the National Core Studies (NCS) into Covid-19, with Health Data Research UK working in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and the Office of National Statistics.

It will form part of the NCS Data and Connectivity programme. This study makes available UK-wide health and administrative data to support and accelerate research into Covid-19, through streamlined data access and analysis.

Andrew Morris, director of Health Data Research UK and lead for data and connectivity, said: “The projects supported by this exciting funding call will enable insights that continue to improve our understanding of Covid-19 and therefore inform how we can best support patients in the next phase of the pandemic response.

“Working in partnership with ONS and The Alan Turing Institute provides a further demonstration of how our collaboration is driving innovation and that, together, we will deliver even greater positive impact to society through the application of health data science.”

By supporting research projects and analyses Health Data Research UK hopes to create new insights that will inform national Covid-19 policies as well as future pandemic preparedness. It will do this by using the data infrastructure and capability assembled by the study; using the Trusted Research Environment (TRE) to apply novel analytical, statistical and mathematical modelling and machine learning expertise; and enhancing the data assets being made available.

Research projects that look to use multiple datasets currently linked and available in TREs to conduct analyses will be prioritised. For example:

  • Viral variant summary and genomic sequencing data from Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK)
  • Linked outbreak-relevant data from clinical records, research studies and audit from key initiatives (CO-CIN, for example)
  • The linked Covid vaccination data
  • The linked national electronic health record data asset
  • The linked Public Health Research dataset (census, mortality, primary care data)

Professor Sir Adrian Smith, institute director and chief executive of The Alan Turing Institute, said: “This call builds on the strength of the existing partnership between Turing, ONS and HDR UK, which combines expertise in advanced analytics, with data collection and curation in and beyond the health domain. We’re delighted to support progression of the National Core Studies and its success to date.”

Earlier this year, Health Data Research UK launched a new functionality for researchers allowing them to search by specific population criteria across multiple datasets.

An episode of Digital Health Unplugged with Health Data Research UK looked at the use of data during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can listen to the episode here or on Spotify, Apply Podcasts and the usual podcast platforms.