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Health Data Research UK establishes International COVID-19 Data Alliance

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Health Data Research UK was backed by the Gates’ Foundation’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to work with partners to establish an International COVID-19 Data Alliance and workbench – a highly-secure data platform for scientists to collaborate more effectively on treatments to combat COVID-19.

Organisations across the world are conducting studies into the disease and generating data that, when intelligently combined, can more quickly lead to treatments and vaccines. But it’s not always easy for researchers to share and collaborate quickly.

UKRI – through the Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Council and Economic and Social Research Council – was a core funder of Health Data Research UK. This was in recognition of the pivotal role health data plays in achieving healthcare transformation.

Safe and secure data sharing

The International COVID-19 Data Alliance provides a secure environment for collaborative research, matching data from many sources with cutting-edge analysis to accelerate the development of treatments for COVID-19.

It is drawing on expertise from the UK Health Data Research Alliance. Members must work to a common set of ethics for the responsible use of data in the discovery, analysis and access of global, multi-dimensional datasets.

The platform – known as the workbench – will connect to regional or national data infrastructures used by its members, such as the national BREATHE health data research hub in the UK.

International collaboration on COVID-19

Sir Mark Walport, former chief executive of UKRI said:

International collaboration around safe and secure data sharing is crucial to improving therapeutic approaches as we advance our knowledge of COVID-19.

Graham Spittle, chair of Health Data Research UK said:

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 analyse rapidly the results of multiple clinical trials at scale.

The international alliance aims to enable this in a trustworthy way.

Though set up to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also allow scientists to respond to future disease outbreaks.

Last updated: 28 October 2020

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