Read our latest SAGE Report


Impact of social distancing measures on mental health services

The impact of the national implementation of social distancing for COVID-19 on mental health service activity was assessed at a large London mental health provider. Almost all services had to substantially reduce face-to-face patient contacts, whilst non face-to-face contact with patients – such as telephone or online contract – saw variable and only partial compensatory increases. Most services had reduced caseloads overall, and numbers of patients in inpatient care had also been substantially reduced. It was also found that there was a significant increase in daily numbers of deaths in patients over a relatively short time period.

The study was led by teams from King’s College London including Professor Robert Stewart, part of HDR UK London, and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – a member of the UK Health Data Research Alliance.

Read the pre-print

Mapping COVID-19 hotspots using data from the COVID-19 Symptom Study app

The COVID Symptom Study app, led by Tim Spector at King’s College London, an HDR UK Associated Researcher, asks users to log their health on a daily basis through the pandemic. Working with the SAIL Databank in Swansea and researchers at BREATHE – The Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health, HDR UK Wales & Northern Ireland researchers including Richard Fry, have used millions of data points from the app to map the spread of COVID-19 across the UK.

This study was recently presented by the Welsh Health Minister – an example of how health data driven data analysis and visualisation is directly informing policy. It was also our Open Access Publication of the Month for September.

Read more about the study in our news story

Watch Vaughan Gething, Health Minister for the Welsh Government, presenting the study

Delirium should be added to list of COVID-19 symptoms for patients over 85

A team has recommended that delirium – sudden, severe confusion – be added to the official list of symptoms for elderly COVID-19 patients over the age of 85. The study also indicated that cough, fever and loss of smell remained the optimal definition in terms of balancing sensitivity and specificity for patients under the age of 85.

Read more about the study

Disparity in BAME COVID-19 mortality rates due to socioeconomic factors

The higher prevalence of hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 in those of Black and South Asian ethnic backgrounds has been highlighted in several studies, including an OpenSAFELY study involving HDR UK members published in September.

Recent work from the Office for National Statistics indicates that higher mortality rates in these communities is due to ‘demographic, geographical and socioeconomic factors, such as where you live or the occupation you’re in’, as opposed to being directly health-related.

View the ONS study

Read more from the BBC

Read the OpenSAFELY pre-print

Lopinavir-ritonavir is found to not be an effective treatment for COVID-19 by RECOVERY trial

The RECOVERY trial, involving HDR UK Oxford and NHS DigiTrials – The Health Data Research Hub for Clinical Trials, has shown that Lopinavir-ritonavir did not reduce mortality or severe outcomes in hospitalised patients. Earlier studies had indicated it might be beneficial, but this latest study involved a significantly larger sample size. Whilst disappointing, the findings allow researchers and clinicians to focus on more promising treatments.

The RECOVERY trial now has over 14,000 participants and 176 active sites.

Read more from RECOVERY on Lopinavir-ritonavir


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Lockdown exacerbates existing health inequalities

A study looking at access to health services and the influence of sex, ethnicity, socio-economic position (SEP) and burden of co-morbidities, found that the UK’s lockdown approach during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have deepened existing health inequalities.

The study suggests this has predominantly impacted women, ethnic minorities and those with chronic illnesses. Authors recommend that public health authorities need to implement urgent policies to ensure equitable access to health and care for all in preparation for a second wave.

Read the pre-print

Moderately increased risk of COVID-19 for those living with HIV

There is emerging evidence from researchers at the University of Oxford that suggests a moderately increased risk of COVID-19 mortality amongst people living with HIV. However, in some cases, HIV antiretroviral therapy regimens were actually associated with a lower risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes. These analyses are dependent on other pre-existing conditions the patients may have, so require further study.  

Read the pre-print

More information and tools 

 HDR UK GitHub repository  – the HDR UK community is developing computer-based tools and methodologies to analyse and handle health data, including those that can help overcome the COVID-19 challenge. These are all shared in a central repository, which is open to the public, so that we can all learn from each other and build on each other’s work. They are shared in HDR UK’s area of GitHub

COVID-19 Slack channels– researchers and innovators looking to collaborate to use health data to address the pandemic can apply to join our dedicated Slack channels. Complete the form to register your interest in joining here.

Skills + Knowledge Matchmaker take a look at our Skills + Knowledge Matchmaker to see a full list of COVID-19 ongoing projects, or visit COVID-19 page to see the latest version of HDR UK’s strategy to support efforts to tackle the pandemic.