Essential information > Data for COVID-19 research

Data for COVID-19 research

Overview

UK Biobank are now receiving COVID-19 test data for UK Biobank participants in England, as well as primary care (GP) data specifically for use in COVID-19 research. Any COVID-19 related research can be done under an existing MTA for an approved project, with no changes or additional fees.

In addition, we are making more frequent updates of death and hospital inpatient data (including critical care admissions) on the Data Portal. See the timelines page for details of the most recent data made available. For information on date ranges of linked health data, please see the Data providers and dates page.

The release of the new primary care (GP) data are subject to the Control of Patient Information (COPI) regulations and can only be used for research related to COVID-19. The other datasets are under no such restrictions and can be used for all health research purposes that are in the public interest.

Note that UK Biobank has previously released primary care (GP) data for approximately 45% of the cohort (see Category 3000) which is not restricted to COVID-19 research. However, this data is not as up-to-date as the COVID-19 data; see the Data providers and dates page for further information about the date coverage of each type of linked health data.

All research outputs (which includes publications and other results posted on social media) that use these special datasets should be sent to UK Biobank prior to public release, so that we are fully aware of any media interest. Researchers should also ensure that the communications teams within their own institutes are aware of the work and that they inform UK Biobank of any PR they are planning. (ukbiobank@sanctuarycounsel.com)

Available on the Data Portal

Type of data Geographical coverage Data provider(s) Table name(s) Notes
COVID-19 test results England Public Health England covid19_result See PHE COVID-19 test page for further information.
COVID-19 miscellaneous England, Scotland & Wales UK Biobank covid19_misc This table gives participants' blood group extracted from imputed genotyped data (Field 23165). This table was added in July 2020 as a result of the suggestion that blood group may affect COVID-19 outcomes.
Death Register England, Scotland & Wales NHS Digital and NHS Central Register (NHSCR), part of the National Records of Scotland death
death_cause
See Resource 115559 for details of the structure of the tables.
Hospital inpatient data England
Scotland
NHS Digital
Public Health Scotland
hesin
hesin_diag
hesin_oper
hesin_critical
hesin_psych
hesin_maternity
hesin_delivery
See Resource 138483 for details of the structure of the tables and Resource 141140 for the hospital inpatient data dictionary.

Note that although inpatient data is available for Wales, data is not yet available for the last few years. See here for details.
Primary care (GP) data England TPP
EMIS
covid19_tpp_gp_clinical
covid19_tpp_gp_scripts
covid19_emis_gp_scripts
covid19_emis_gp_scripts
See Resource 3151 for details. As per the COPI regulations, this data can only be used for COVID-19 research.

Details about timelines for future data releases can be found on the provisional timeline for future data availability page.

Gaining access to data for COVID-19 research

If you are already an approved UK Biobank researcher with a project underway, and wish to receive these datasets for COVID-19 research purposes, you can register to receive these data by logging into the Access Management System (AMS).

Go to the Data tab for your project and click the button that says "Request COVID-19 data and updates". This takes you to a sign-up website where you can select the specific types of COVID-19 related data you require. You will then gain access to the relevant tables based on your selection. As updates are made to the data (see the timelines page for details of the most recent updates) you will automatically gain access to the new data.

Note that the Principal Investigator (PI) of the project needs to sign-up for these data and, if requesting access to the primary care data, to confirm that the data will only be used for COVID-19 related research.

If you are an approved UK Biobank researcher but your project is not yet underway, you will not be able to sign up using the method above until your project has been approved. Note that, with the exception of the COVID-19 GP tables, access to the tables above can also be gained by adding an appropriate field to your basket during the initial application process. See Field 40100 (test results), Category 100093 (death) and Category 2000 (inpatient) for details.

Please note that student applications are not eligible to receive expedited access to COVID-19 data via AMS registration. Student researchers can request access to the above tables (with the exception of COVID-19 primary care data) by adding the desired fields to a basket.

If you are not an approved UK Biobank researcher, please visit the UK Biobank website to learn more about the project and, if appropriate, submit a registration. Once you have been approved, you can then submit an application to request these data.

Using the Data Portal

Guidance on how to access the Data Portal, either to download tables or to query tables using SQL, can be found in the Accessing data guide in section 5.1.

Specific examples of SQL queries for each type of linked health data can be found in: Resource 138483 (Appendix B) for the hospital inpatient data, Resource 115559 (section 3.4.2) for the death data & Resource 3151 (Section 6.2) for the COVID-19 primary care (GP) data.

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