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July 7, 2020

Surveillance systems could help identify Covid-19 risk factors

By Chloe Kent

Research published in Microbial Genomics has detailed how existing public health monitoring systems in the UK could be linked with the UK Biobank (UKB) to improve understanding of the risk factors associated with severe Covid-19.

The researchers linked UKB with Public Health England’s Second-Generation Surveillance System (SGSS), a centralised microbiology database used for national disease surveillance in England, which holds data on test results for Covid-19.

The new system will provide a weekly linkage of tests results to UKB and its cohorts. UKB will also release data relevant to Covid-19 such as mortality records, hospital episode statistics and primary care data.

Researchers hope that this data can reveal additional risk factors for severe infection and improve understanding of the disease.

Big Data Institute associate professor Dr Danny Wilson said: “By providing information about Covid-19 to large cohorts including UK Biobank, INTERVAL, COMPARE, Genes & Health, Genomics England and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biorepository, this work facilitates research into lifestyle, medical and genetic risk factors.”

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