Last month, Health Data Research (HDR) UK, in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute, announced nine successful applications following a £2m UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding call to support UK Government’s National Core Study (NCS) programme.
Nine projects were funded, with five of those requesting to use the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, a Trusted Research Environment (TRE). Approved researchers will securely access anonymised, individual-level population-scale data sources to deliver their research projects.
HDR UK leads the Data & Connectivity NCS, which connects vitally important data to support five other NCS workstreams focussing on public health, clinical trials, immunology, transmission and ‘long COVID’.
This initiative invited the UK’s data science community to propose research studies that would make use of the health data research infrastructure via the network of TRE’s based across the four home nations of the UK as part of the COVID-19 NCS programme.
These five projects using the SAIL Databank are all being collaborated on with partners from Population Data Science at Swansea University. They include research into vaccine impacts, caring for children with COVID-19 and the way recorded ethnicity is used in research.
We asked the leads of these five projects to tell us more about their research and how SAIL Databank will be used to support their endeavours.
Inequality in health has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. People from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to become very sick or die from COVID-19. If there is bias in the data or bias in the model, patients from ethnic minority backgrounds could potentially received the wrong care or no care. This study aims to improve existing technology for predicting personalised future risk of health conditions, particularly those affecting overlooked groups of patients. Find out more > https://www.hdruk.ac.uk/projects/improving-methods-in-health-technology-to-reduce-inequalities-particularly-ethnicity-bias-using-covid-19-as-an-example/
Researchers want to uncover the true burden of healthcare use for children and young people due to COVID-19. To find answers, the team will bring together data from GPs and hospitals on all children and young people in Scotland, Wales and England. Using state-of-the-art computing approaches to map out patterns of childrens and young peoples healthcare use before and after admission/infection with COVID-19. These will then be compared to those children and young people uninfected. Find out more > https://www.hdruk.ac.uk/projects/do-children-and-young-people-need-extra-follow-up-care-after-having-sars-cov-2-infection/
This research will answer questions related to uptake, safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines amongst children, young people and pregnant women. The research will use linked data from across the UK. These will include general practitioner, vaccination, testing, viral sequencing, hospitalisation and death data. Trained and approved data scientists will have access to the data in secure and safe settings. This means people can be confident that health data is accessed securely and their privacy protected. Find out more > https://www.hdruk.ac.uk/projects/the-impact-of-covid-19-vaccines-in-pregnancy-children-and-young-people-and-vulnerable-groups/
When people get COVID-19, how sick they get and what complications they have varies hugely. This research aims to investigate if people with COVID-19 and pre-existing lung disease (for example asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are at a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, or blood clots in the lungs after COVID-19 compared with people with COVID-19 without pre-existing lung disease. Find out more > https://www.hdruk.ac.uk/projects/are-people-with-chronic-lung-diseases-at-a-higher-risk-of-cardiovascular-complications-after-having-covid-19-than-people-who-dont-have-lung-diseases/
Medicines are a major public health intervention, that is they are the most common way in which we can either treat or cure disease. Understanding data on medicines, particularly when linked to individual characteristics and their health problems might help us understand how effective and safe medicines are, but also may help us understand the disruption to health services during COVID-19. This project aims to link medicines data to health information data to create a dashboard of how medicines are used across the UK. Such a dashboard will enable key health agencies to improve delivery of health care to patients. We will also use the dashboard to investigate how medicines use has changed during COVID-19 and answer medicines related COVID-19 medicines questions. Find out more > https://www.hdruk.ac.uk/projects/using-medicines-data-to-understand-the-effects-of-covid-19-on-clinical-care/
Senior Research Manager and Data Scientist at SAIL Databank, Ashley Akbari, said, “Building upon our existing One Wales collaboration, it is great to see the group grow in expertise and membership with the news of these newly funded and interesting research questions into the direct and indirect harms related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Working together, sharing and building expertise has been at our core values and strengths in Wales for a long time, and one of our key aims within the One Wales collaboration. By identifying opportunities to support and collaborate in the use of population-scale data available within the SAIL Databank, our goal is to support, enable and collaborate with people and groups across the UK and beyond. Through these collaborations, we hope to enable and complete research and deliver intelligence that provides impact for the people of the UK, and valuable insights around the services they receive.”
National Core Studies programme lead within Population Data Science, Chris Orton added, “SAIL Databank is proud to be working with such calibre of scientists across the UK who actively wish to and are able to make use of our research infrastructure. As part of our role within the National Core Studies Data and Connectivity programme, we have been able to rapidly respond to data access needs in a collaborative manner, and provide population-scale data at a much-increased periodicity which makes for high quality, high impact research into the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
“These recent studies which have been commissioned and funded by the call, and all ongoing COVID-19 research studies we support, will make use of the SAIL Gateway research environment data sources and are supported by teams within SAIL who are continuing to work at pace as COVID-19 provides ever emerging challenges. We very much look forward to supporting the successful applicants, and to generating further insights into population data science as a result of being a National Core Studies Data and Connectivity Delivery Partner, and the Trusted Research Environment for ongoing Wales-specific and host of other UK-wide COVID-19 research.”