In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal in June of this year, representatives from the UK’s medical, nursing, and public health professions warned UK political leaders that the risk of a second wave of coronavirus was high.
That prediction is now a reality with an exponential increase in cases across the UK, exceeding April’s initial peak by a factor of 3, albeit with a substantive increase in testing. The expectation is that this trend will continue into the winter months with hospitalisation figures also expected to rise.
Geospatial data is essential to monitoring, predicting and communicating the spread of viruses
The importance of data and predictive models to tackle the spread of coronavirus has been widely acknowledged. Specifically, ‘Geospatial data is essential to monitoring, predicting and communicating the spread of viruses’ according to the UK Geospatial Strategy launched earlier this year.
A Trusted Research Environment for geographical modelling
The Secure eResearch Platform - SeRP - provides the underpinning Trusted Research Environment (TRE) for the SAIL Databank which is entrusted with a wealth of anonymised health and administrative data, and contains some of the best characterised population data found anywhere in the world.
SAIL Databank hosts 80% of primary care and 100% of secondary care data for the country of Wales. It also houses a wealth of Welsh COVID-19 related data including; COVID-19 testing data across all 4 pillars, contact tracing information and self-reported data from over 4 million users of the Zoe COVID-19 Symptom Study app.
SAIL Databank user and Senior Lecturer in Geography and Geographic Information Systems at Swansea University Medical School, Dr Richard Fry and his team, has managed to unlock this data to produce geographic models of Coronavirus spread across Wales.
Location data linked to health data provides valuable with insights into COVID-19
In a recent blog published on the UK government’s Geospatial Commission website, Dr Fry outlines the way in which location data can be used, anonymously. It has so far led to vital statistical analyses that inform government interventions and public policy to control the spread of Coronavirus.
This information, when linked to other health data sources, provides data scientists with insights into the impacts of COVID-19 at a household level.
SeRP provides data scientists and researchers with a suite of analytical tools across its SeRP Collaboration and SeRP Workbench solutions. The Geographic Information System infrastructure provided by SeRP, has enabled Dr Fry and the wider ‘One Wales’ team to develop mapping outputs used to help control COVID’s ‘second wave’.