Roundup highlights:

  • LATEST news from RECOVERY Trial  
  • INSIGHTS in this week’s report to SAGE 
  • PROGRESS on National Core Studies in this week’s Data and Connectivity Sprint 4 Report 
  • WATCH our interview with Munir Pirmohamed on vaccines data for research 
  • DISCOVER COVID-19 data and tools on the Health Data Research Innovation Gateway 

LATEST: Tocilizumab reduces deaths in patients hospitalised with COVID-19

The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial has demonstrated that an anti-inflammatory treatment, tocilizumab, reduces the risk of death when given to hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19. The study, supported by Health Data Research UK and Health Data Research Hub NHS DigiTrials, also showed that tocilizumab shortens the time until patients are successfully discharged from hospital and reduces the need for a mechanical ventilator. 

Read the full press release here. 

INSIGHTS: This week’s report to SAGE

This week we published the latest research insights and data access updates in our regular report that we share with SAGE (the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), UK Research and Innovation and the wider science community. The highlights for this report include:   

  •  A new algorithm to predict COVID-19 deaths in England has been developed using linked datasets. The algorithm, which showed high levels of discrimination between men and women, has the potential to support public policy and clinical risk assessment – find out more 
  • Recent results from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that less than half of people surveyed from Black or Black British ethnic groups would be very or fairly likely to have the COVID-19 vaccine if offered. This is the lowest proportion amongst ethnic groups surveyed – find out more
  • The number of patients receiving radiotherapy dropped considerably in the first wave of the pandemic, indicating reduced cancer referrals and diagnoses. Changes to radiotherapy services  included delayed treatments, shorter radiotherapy courses, and increased radiotherapy to compensate for a reduction in surgeries – find out more
  • The VirusWatch Household Study has found that people living in the most deprived areas of England and Wales were more likely to leave their house for work or school and use public transport and visit an essential shop, compared to people living in the least deprived areas. This difference may contribute to higher infection rates in deprived areas – find out more
  • Two commonly used antibiotics have no beneficial effect in patients over the age of 50 in the early stages of COVD-19.  Insights come from interim data from the PRINCIPLE trial (Platform Randomised trial of Interventions against COVID-19 In older people) – find out more

 We are continuing to bring together COVID-19 research questions that are using data and these are published and updated on the Health Data Research Innovation Gateway 

PROGRESS: National Core Studies – Data and Connectivity Sprint 4 Report

Health Data Research UK and the Office for National Statistics are continuing to work in partnership to lead the Data and Connectivity Study. This month’s report details the key progress and achievements made by the delivery partners across the UK and the key datasets that are now available for vital COVID-19 research. Progress this month includes: 

  • Vaccine data is now flowing into  national Trusted Research Environments in England and Wales  and should soon be available for research. With the support of Munir Pirmohamed, we are bringing together researchers and organisations with expertise in this area to map vaccine data flows and linkages required for research, identify key research questions and enable data access. 
  • Each of the 12 research projects awarded in the recent rapid funding call to enable research that uses and enriches the data within the Data and Connectivity National Core Study met their initial milestone objectives. These include: submitting data access requests via the Gateway, developing and submitting patient and public involvement and engagement plans, finalising contracts and ensuring staff are in place and are completing appropriate accreditation training.  
  • A focus on the needs of data users and controllers by with a consultation to collect feedback on the use of the Gateway and the data access request process. Insights will be shared in a future update.  
  • All the Trusted Research Environment delivery partners have built a roadmap to ensure the datasets identified as a priority in previous Sprints will be onboarded and linked by the end of March 2021.  Many of these datasets are already available via the HDR Innovation Gateway. 
  • A boost to patient and public involvement with the recruitment of an additional lay member to join the Delivery Group and three new lay members to a new Advisory Group for Data and Connectivity – more details will be announced shortly. 

WATCH: Interview with Munir Pirmohamed

We spoke to Munir Pirmohamed – Chair of Medicine at the University of Liverpool and Director of HDR UK North – about his work to support vaccine research. In this 4-minute video, Munir tells us about the data needs and importance of linkage, the challenges, and how the UK is coordinating vaccines research – watch here

DISCOVER: COVID-19 data on the Health Data Research Innovation Gateway 

Datasets, projects, and tools that are relevant to COVID-19 research can be discovered on the Gateway.  You can search and discover COVID-19 datasets and view the collections of datasets and tools being used by each of the National Core Studies