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EIDF and EPCC’s COVID-19 response


EPCC, the supercomputing centre at the University of Edinburgh, and Edinburgh International Data Facility (EIDF) have been working closely with public agencies to support responses to COVID-19.

EPCC has been working with the NHS and Public Health Scotland to create a secure data and computing environment for urgent research in Scotland into COVID-19.

Collaborating closely with colleagues in the eDRIS team from PHS,  a major data resource has been assembled within the National Safe Haven.

This resource, the Scottish COVID-19 Data Repository, brings together COVID-19 testing data with key clinical datasets to provide approved health researchers with the tools they need to understand SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

The National Safe Haven is a logical part of the Edinburgh International Data Facility, but physically separate from it. It provides a secure data management zone with highly restricted access, and a trusted research environment for approved researchers to work with designated linked health datasets.

The Scottish COVID-19 Data Repository has been assembled within the secure data management zone over the last few months, and is now operational and receiving weekly updates of testing and clinical data from eDRIS. Research projects authorised under a COVID-19 fast-track approvals process by the Scottish national Public Benefit and Privacy Panel are already underway.

This work supports the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect initiative through additional specialised services within the National Safe Haven, and collaborates with colleagues across the UK on the ISARIC4C project.

ISARIC, the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium, is a global federation of clinical research networks, providing a proficient, coordinated, and agile research response to outbreak-prone infectious diseases. ISARIC4C is the consortium’s response to COVID-19, and EPCC is working with clinical and genomic experts from Oxford, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh universities, including Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, to provide a data and computing environment to help search for possible genetic markers in COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 has taken a terrible toll in the UK, both directly and indirectly, but a ray of light has been shone by the world-leading research happening at UK universities and in the life sciences community. Here at EPCC we’re glad that we’ve been able to contribute, even in a small way, to these efforts.

Rob Baxter, EIDF Programme Manager