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Part of Coronavirus programme updates 19 June 2020

Enabling research and clinical trials

We're making sure that data and analyses can be shared to support research, enabling evaluation of different response interventions and increasing understanding of COVID-19 transmission, immunity and clinical outcomes. We're enabling acceleration of COVID-19 drug and vaccine clinical trials.

Close up image of the coronavirus COVID-19.

NHS DigiTrials

Data curated by NHS Digital, and serviced through our ‘NHS DigiTrials’ service, has supported the work of the RECOVERY trial. This Oxford-led trial is assessing treatments for patients hospitalised with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This randomised control trial of potential coronavirus therapies has found that a low dose steroid treatment, dexamethasone, can cut risk of death by third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those on oxygen.


Trusted Research Environment for SAGE

We have continued to expand Trusted Research Environments (TREs) for coronavirus research for England. This service provides researchers with support for data access requests, access to data on a secure platform and support with analysis work. Dedicated TREs are being established for particular research interests: TREs have been delivered for PHE and for National Institute for Cardiovascular Research (NICOR). A TRE for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is planned for July, and requirements for TREs for cancer research are being defined.

Learn more about the Trusted Research Environment


Central disseminator of GP data for research and planning

Following endorsement by the BMA, RCGP and National Data Guardian, NHS Digital is collecting and disseminating GP data for coronavirus planning and research. This reduces the burden on GPs to ensure legitimate, controlled and proportionate data release.

We have received positive responses to participation requests from ~6.4k GP practices in England (~94%) with only 8 practices opting out.

Follow-up is underway with the remaining ~300 practices.

We initiated the first data extract on 29 May 2020 based on GP practices that had confirmed participation by 27 May 2020 (~83% of total). Data delivery to the RECOVERY trial is planned for week commencing 22 June 2020 with additional research requests already being prioritised. Data extracts will occur every 2 weeks until the end the outbreak.


Permission to Contact (with NIHR)

We were commissioned by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) on 15 June 2020 to deliver a tactical solution to enable potential participants to record their permission to be contacted with respect to possible participation in vaccine trials. Discussions are underway around initiating a to deliver a strategic solution for electronically managing consent for care, research and clinical trials.

Last edited: 24 June 2020 1:42 pm