Last updated Jul 14, 2020
UK Biobank took swift strides to help tackle the global pandemic by making crucial new data available on COVID-19 test results for our 500,000 cohort of participants, and by initiating a major coronavirus antibodies study to understand the extent of infection in different regions across the UK. More than 14,000 bona fide researchers worldwide are registered with UK Biobank. From this group, many have used this new wealth of data to gain a deeper insight to key risk factors and learn about the natural history of the disease.
Our work would be impossible without the ongoing support and time of UK Biobank participants. On this occasion during a time of global crisis, family members of volunteers have also been very generous with their effort and willingness to help. Talking about the most recent study to test for COVID-19 antibodies, Professor Sir Rory Collins, UK Biobank Principal Investigator said:
“Thank you to the 88,000 participants and their 15,000 family members who volunteered for the study to test antibodies. We were over-whelmed by the response and sorry that we could not include everybody – but your support at this time of crisis is very much appreciated.”
Findings from research using the UK Biobank resource have already started to emerge and results on the genetic and socio-demographic risk factors for the disease are clearer – these can be viewed below.
The blue infographic, below right, shows first results from the analysis of the first 3,360 samples collected in the UK Biobank COVID-19 antibody study which were published on 23 June 2020. These Week 1 participants included predominantly UK Biobank participants (rather than younger family members) because, in general, they responded sooner and were selected first to be asked to provide blood samples. They therefore tended to be older, of White ethnic background, to live in rural areas and in less socio-economically deprived areas than the study sample as a whole.
UK Biobank expects scientists will continue to apply themselves to tackle this global crisis.
|Multi-morbidity and SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK Biobank|
Evidence to date has focused on assessing the individual prevalence and impact of comorbidities in patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This study aimed to investigate the pattern of the most prevalent combinations of multi-morbidity (i.e. presence of two or more pre-existing chronic diseases) in those infected with SARS-CoV-2.
|Ethnic and socioeconomic differences in SARS-CoV-2 infection: prospective cohort study using UK Biobank|
Understanding the role of ethnicity and socioeconomic position in the risk of developing SARS-CoV-2 infection is limited. This study investigated this in the UK Biobank study.
|APOE e4 genotype predicts severe COVID-19 in the UK Biobank community cohort|
This study aimed to test associations between ApoE e4 alleles and COVID-19 severity, using the UKB data.
|Lifestyle Risk Factors, Inflammatory Mechanisms, and COVID019 Hospitalization: A Community-Based Cohort Study of 387,109 Adults in UK|
|This study conducted the first large-scale general population study on life risk factors (smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake) for COVID-19 using prospective cohort data with national registry linkage to hospitalisation.
|Dementia among overlooked conditions linked to high risk of severe COVID-19 in older people|
|A new analysis shows certain pre-existing diseases may put older people at risk of developing more severe COVID-19, implying they may need special treatments and more shielding.|
|Lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease in relation to COVID-19 hospitalisation: A community-based cohort study of 387,109 adults in the UK|
|These findings suggest that an unhealthy lifestyle synonymous with an elevated risk of non-communicable disease is also a risk factor for COVID19 hospital admission, accounting for up to half of severe cases. Adopting simple lifestyle changes could lower the risk of severe infection.
|Lack of genetic evidence that fatty liver disease predisposes to COVID-19|
|This is a letter to the Editor in the Journal of Hepatology that examines the impact of the MAFLD-GRS on the risk of COVID-19 in individual data of participants of the UK Biobank (UKBB) cohort.|
|Vitamin D status, body mass index, ethnicity and COVID-19: Initial analysis of the first-reported UK Biobank COVID-19 positive cases (n 580) compared with negative controls (n 723)|
|In this short report, a preliminary assessment of the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status (25(OH)D), body mass index (BMI), ethnicity and other lifestyle factors have been presented in the first-reported UK Biobank COVID-19 positive cases (n 580) compared with negative controls (n 723).|
|Clinical and Genetic Characteristics of Covid-19 Patients from UK Biobank|
|In this study it has been found that black participants in the cohort were over four times more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than white participants.|
|Ethnic and socioeconomic differences in SARS-CoV2 infection in the UK Biobank|
|This study finds that some minority ethnic groups have a higher risk of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in the UK Biobank study, which was not accounted for by differences in socioeconomic conditions, baseline self-reported health or behavioural risk factors.
|Regional differences in daily reported Covid-19 cases show positive genetic correlations with higher socio-economic status and better health at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in England|
|The polygenic signal increases during the first weeks of March, peaking at March 13th with the measured genetic variants explaining ~3% of the variance, including two genome-wide significant loci. The explained variance starts to drop at the end of March and reaches almost zero on April 18th. The majority of this temporary polygenic signal is due to genes associated with higher educational attainment and better health.
|Ethnicity, comorbidity, socioeconomic status, and their associations with COVID-19 infection in England: a cohort analysis of UK Biobank data|
|This study finds that COVID-19 rates in England are higher in BAME communities, and in those living in deprived areas.
|Modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for COVID-19: results from UK Biobank|
|This study investigated demographic, lifestyle, socioeconomic, and clinical risk factors, and compared them to risk factors for pneumonia and influenza in UK Biobank.
|Pre-existing comorbidities predicting severe COVID-19 in older adults in the UK Biobank community cohort|
|There were 274,356 participants aged 65+, including 448 (0.16%) hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Common co-morbidities in patients were hypertension (58.5%), coronary heart disease (CHD, 21.1%), history of fall or fragility fractures (30.6%), and type 2 diabetes (19.6%).|