Yorkshire firm spearheading research into people at higher risk from coronavirus

Work to identify people who are at the most risk from becoming seriously ill if they contract Covid 19 has been launched this week.

Friday, 17th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 10:16 am
A Yorkshire firm is helping with research into coronavirus.

The Yorkshire Post can exclusively reveal that analysis of which preexisting medical conditions and medicines present a higher risk to people infected with Covid 19 is underway in Yorkshire in what a leading scientist said will “greatly enhance” the evidence base for the response to the global pandemic.

The impact of contracting Covid 19 currently varies greatly from patient to patient, with some people developing only mild symptoms whilst others becoming seriously ill and requiring intensive hospital treatment.

Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshirecoronavirusIn a bid to identify those most likely to suffer more serious medical conditions when infected, Leeds-based tech firm TPP is working in conjunction with the NHS, University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LHSTM) and NHSX - the Government unit charged with developing the best use for NHS technology.

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The new research, based on data used by thousands of GP practices using TPP’s systems, is being used for key research and it is being linked to hospital, intensive care and ONS datasets to create a national picture for Covid-19. It is aimed at identifying specific medical conditions and medications that increase or decrease the risk of a bad clinical outcome from Covid-19 infection.

Once identified, the data will allow for far faster and effective interventions for those most at risk of suffering the most from Covid 19.

The process is being spearheaded in the UK and is expected to be rolled out globally with results expected in the coming weeks.

The project is spearheaded by Professor Liam Smeeth from the LHSTM and Dr Ben Goldacre, Director of the DataLab in the Nuffield Dept of Primary Care Health Sciences.

Professor Smeeth said: “This research platform will allow us to greatly enhance the evidence base for the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the answers we will provide being crucial not just in the UK, but also globally.”

Dr Goldacre emphasised the fast pace of this project.

He said: “Everyone has worked at pace to get this vital research infrastructure built securely and efficiently. We can now deliver answers on which medicines, and pre-existing medical conditions, are associated with higher or lower risks from Covid- 19.”

This dataset will be used on a non-identifiable basis and is being used within an extremely secure data processing environment, with only a small group of researchers, under contract to NHS England, from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will be able to carry out this data analysis.

The project is fully supported by Control of Patient Information (COPI) regulations and NHS England. TPP is not charging for any of the work it is doing to facilitate the research and has committed substantial resources to supporting this crucial project.

Dr Chris Bates, Director of Research at TPP, said: “This has been an incredible collaboration between all the teams involved. We’ve covered enormous ground in a matter of weeks.”

“The researchers will not be able to access identifiable patient information and any data they publish from the linked dataset will be fully anonymised and aggregated.

“The research is aimed at identifying specific medical conditions and medications that increase or decrease the risk of a bad clinical outcome from Covid-19 infection.”

TPP (The Phoenix Partnership) is based in Horsforth, Leeds and was founded in 1997 by its chief executive officer Frank Hester.

The firm recently partnered with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) based at the University of Oxford for the initiative to run clinical trials to address the Covid-19 emergency.

The centre is one of Europe’s oldest surveillance systems and spotted the 2009 Swine flu pandemic before the virologists. It is now turning its attention to how general practice might help us mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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