The Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, funded by Health and Care Research Wales, has been selected to play a key role in an international collaboration to accelerate COVID-19 research.
Established by Health Data Research UK and partners, following funding announced by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and the Gates Foundation, the new International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance and Workbench will support the rapid development of therapies to combat the global effects of COVID-19.
Many organisations across the world are conducting studies into COVID-19 and generating data that, when pooled together and reanalysed, can lead to powerful insights that help accelerate the discovery of interventions. However, the data is often siloed, making it difficult for those generating the data to collaborate quickly.
The International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance and Workbench will provide an environment for focused collaborative research, matching high value data from many sources with cutting edge analysis to accelerate collaboration, discovery and development of therapeutics to combat COVID-19, all with privacy and accessibility in mind.
Led from Swansea University Medical School, SAIL Databank is an internationally-recognised research group that works to anonymise and link routinely collected data from the NHS and other sources in a safe and secure way, for the purposes of supporting health and social care research.
SAIL Databank is the Trusted Research Environment for BREATHE, the Health Data Research UK hub for respiratory health, and is the focus for the accumulation of a wide range of COVID-19-related data. This includes managing access to de-identified data from the popular ZOE COVID-19 Symptom Study app.
Swansea University’s SAIL Databank team also bring their innovative SeRP (Secure e-Research Platform) technical platform to the Alliance, delivering a novel ‘adapter’ technology, lowering the technical bar for further data partners to join the Alliance.
Professor David Ford, Director of SAIL Databank and SeRP (Secure eResearch Platform), and Chief Data Officer at BREATHE, said:
“We are delighted that Swansea University’s Secure eResearch Platform (SeRP) is providing its Adapter technology to this important collaboration. Working with Aridhia, we will deliver the means by which independent, well governed, data repositories can participate in large scale federated research studies enabled by the Alliance, without having to move their data out from their local control.”
SAIL Databank has received funding from Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales and its predecessor organisations since 2006, which has provided a concrete foundation for their role in supporting COVID-19 research.
Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health and Care Research Wales said:
“We are delighted to see how the continued funding and support of SAIL Databank has resulted in Wales being able to play a key role in the international COVID-19 research effort. Access to good quality data is pivotal to research that will have an impact on how we respond to this pandemic.”
Dr Rob Orford, Chief Scientific Adviser for Health, Welsh Government, said:
"The SAIL Databank is a valuable asset in supporting our understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting on the health and wellbeing of people in Wales. We have actively worked alongside and encouraged collaboration with SAIL Databank, to build on the strength of expertise that available here in Wales."
The Health and Care Research Wales COVID-19 research in Wales webpage has details of all related research studies that are active, or in set up, in Wales.