ADR UK enables vital research in response to Covid-19 crisis

The impact of the crisis means the need for timely access to administrative data to support high quality research and government decision-making on social and economic issues is greater than ever. 

ADR UK’s linked datasets, created from multiple sources across UK public services, will be vital to informing how research across sectors addresses the societal impacts of this pandemic. They will help us develop a better understanding of the long-term impact on different groups in society with respect to health, education, crime and the economy. 

The linked Growing Up in England (GUIE) dataset enables development of a clearer understanding of childhood vulnerability across England. Vitally, this could provide insight into how vulnerable children and young people can be better supported in times of crisis. 

The Wage and Employment Dynamics (WED) project, led by researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE), will enable analysis of the long-term impact of the crisis on people’s earnings and employment prospects.

Read on to find out about more of the important work underway across the partnership. 

ADR Northern Ireland 

In Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) researchers have been assisting in the production and continuous development of official weekly deaths statistics, recently supplemented with specific analysis of Covid-19 related deaths. They are investigating how data linkage opportunities may broaden the existing evidence base to support decision making related to Covid-19, as well as the impact Covid-19 is having on society. 

Areas of interest include excess deaths – particularly the difference between observed and expected deaths – as well as the impact of a range of demographic and socioeconomic factors such as ethnicity, disability and occupation. 

Researchers at the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI) have begun planning for research in a post-Covid world, in which evidence will be needed on how the most vulnerable have been affected. 

ADRC NI researchers within Queen’s University Belfast are linked to research teams throughout the UK – including the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA), HDR UK (Health Data Research UK), and a national black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) consortium of researchers and organisations – to create large linked administrative datasets. These will facilitate a better quantification of the risks of Covid-19 to society as a whole as well as its disproportionate effects on certain groups

ADRC NI also hopes to extend its current research programmes by refreshing the data to include health and prescription data across the pandemic period. 

ADR Scotland

Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician and ADR Scotland Co-Director, sits on the Scottish Government Covid-19 Advisory Group. This Group has set up a Data Task Force, which is chaired by Roger and includes in its membership ADR Scotland’s other director, Professor Chris Dibben, as well as other members of the partnership. The purpose of the taskforce is to enable evidence-based policy and operational decisions by organisations in Scotland responding to the current Covid-19 situation. 

Professor Susan McVie, who leads ADR Scotland’s Safer Communities research programme, has also joined the Independent Advisory Group on Police Use of Temporary Powers Related to the Coronavirus Crisis to provide scrutiny of policing in Scotland during the pandemic. Part of her role will be to harness the power of Police Scotland’s existing datasets and commission new data collections to help inform the work of the Advisory Group. 

ADR Wales 

The Welsh Government, data research centres and the NHS have quickly created a cross-institutional team to provide timely evidence to inform policy and practice to tackle the epidemic and its impact in Wales, of which ADR Wales is a part. The team has come together to leverage existing and new datasets and apply their expertise to provide evidence to reduce the impact of the epidemic on the Welsh population using the SAIL Databank, an ADR Wales partner.

ADR Wales staff are managing all data acquisition, governance and data warehousing for Covid-19 related data being provisioned to governments, NHS and other data research projects across the UK. This includes a wide array of newly acquired data flowing into SAIL, as well as massively increasing the frequency of some other data flows, often to daily feeds.

ADR Wales’ advancements in data linkage have also meant that the SAIL Databank can facilitate a secure, anonymised data pipeline to deliver information from a new Covid-19 symptom tracking app into the NHS across both England and Wales

Office for National Statistics (ONS) 

Three new Covid-19 datasets have just been made available in the ONS Secure Research Service (SRS). These include:

  • Health and Life Events Data (Mortality) – Data on deaths involving Covid-19 for England and Wales will soon be made available in the SRS. Access to the monthly deaths data is restricted to Covid-19 related research projects only. These data will be updated monthly. More information will be released about this data soon. 

All applications to use these datasets should be made via ONS's new Research Accreditation Service (RAS)

In addition, ONS is jointly leading the government's large-scale virus infection and antibody test study, for which the SRS, which receives funding from ADR UK, is hosting the data and analysis. This is a major long-term study involving up to 300,000 participants which is tracking the spread of Covid-19 in the general population and includes antibody testing to help understand levels of immunity. Initial findings from the study have estimated that, at any given time between 27 April and 10 May 2020, an average of 0.27% of the community population had Covid-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.17% to 0.41%).

You can keep up-to-date with how each of ADR UK’s partner data services is operating in accordance with government guidelines in relation to the crisis in our Covid-19 update

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