UK Biobank has now made available to researchers, a greater wealth of data from newly released linked electronic patient records to enable greater understanding of COVID-19. Data from a wide range of medical records, including COVID-19 diagnostic tests, deaths, GP records and hospital episodes – including, for the first time, critical care events – are now available for some 400,000 participants living in England.
UK Biobank is making regularly updated health outcome data available for COVID-19 related research to all researchers worldwide who have approval to use the resource.
The integration of data across a wide range of medical records will enable researchers to identify individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 across the full spectrum of disease severity. Coupled with the genetic and lifestyle data already available in the resource, this uniquely rich dataset will help researchers to understand the extent to which genetics, lifestyle and underlying health conditions affect disease severity, and recovery. These data will also create an opportunity for research into the longer-term health effects of COVID-19 as participants continue to be followed up through linkage to their medical records.
This unprecedented release of primary care data to UK Biobank is the result of a Control of Patient Information (COPI) notice given in March 2020 by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). This notice instructed all GP practices whose IT systems are supplied by the two main system suppliers – The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) and Egton Medical Information Systems (EMIS) – to release electronic patient records to UK Biobank for purposes related to further understanding of COVID-19. This release of data on over 250,000 participants by EMIS follows the initial release of data by TPP last month.