As of 1 March, researchers can request access to two COVID-19 vaccine datasets through the HDR Innovation Gateway, set up by the national institute for health data science, HDR UK.
The datasets available are the England COVID-19 Immunisation dataset and the Welsh COVID-19 Vaccination dataset.
England’s COVID Immunisation dataset is now available through the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service. The information contains de-identified record-level data of people who have received a vaccination for COVID-19, as well as the type of vaccine and date of vaccination.
Covering similar data for Wales, the Welsh COVID Vaccination Dataset allows vaccine data to be linked to the other key health and administrative datasets available through the SAIL Databank.
WHY IT MATTERS
These datasets are updated daily and allow researchers access the latest available information. Approvals to access the datasets will be based on the “five safes” framework to ensure responsible uses of health data.
Researchers will be able to hone in on questions about the effectiveness of the vaccines on different population groups, their impact on disease transmission and how vaccines will affect the course of the pandemic.
Alison Pritchard, UK deputy national statistician and director general for data capability at the ONS said: “It is great news that we’ve been able to help researchers access this important data. Our Secure Research Service works to ensure that data from across government can be safely accessed by accredited researchers across government, academia, the private and voluntary sectors to strengthen our understanding and break new ground on important issues.
“This is part of our wider work with Health Data Research UK to streamline data access and analysis and we are continuing to explore how we can make further improvements in the future.”
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Newly released data from Public Health England has revealed that both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines reduce severe COVID-19 in older adults.
Last month, a new review was launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to bring attention to the more efficient and safe use of health data for research and analysis in the healthcare sector.
In the aim of broadening collated vaccine data, at the beginning of the year, NHS England announced that it would start recording COVID-19 vaccine ethnicity data. The move came after the NHS came under fire for its lack of comprehensive data on the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.
ON THE RECORD
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, COVID-19 Vaccines Research Data Infrastructure Group lead said: “The UK has fantastic data resources; but it is linkages that are key to supporting researchers to do an analysis of the data in a timely manner. So, this is an excellent and important first step on the important path of increasing our understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.”
Andrew Morris, director, HDR UK said: “The level of work and collaboration that has taken place to ensure the UK’s health researchers are able to access this crucial data safely and efficiently should not be underestimated. This is a true vindication for the “Team Science” approach adopted by our all of our partner organisations. It also acts as a shining example for what can be achieved to enable discovery of and access to not just the data required to help us overcome this pandemic, but also of the UK’s rich diversity of health datasets to advance healthcare for all.”