Early Assessment of COVID-19 epidemiology and Vaccine/anti-viral Effectiveness (EAVE II)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh


Scotland is an ideal place to carry out this research as there is a unique reference number for every individual. This makes it easy to link together different health datasets and construct an electronic cohort based upon data from 250 general practices and 1.2m individuals (22% of the population). Such a large cohort, gives wide regional coverage and permits investigation of subgroups such as children aged under 5 or adults over 65.
These data are already being collected for routine care - information on GP consultations, prescriptions, out of hours’ consultations, use of accident and emergency and hospital admissions. It also includes laboratory tests to diagnose a person with coronavirus and specifically COVID-19. Individuals will be having routine blood tests and a sample of unused blood will be stored and eventually tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies to work out the proportion of the population exposed during the epidemic. We will also sequence virus genomes from a sample of patients. The analysis of these data is carried out in a safe haven using anonymised data so that individuals cannot be identified.
This cohort will be followed up to monitor the progress of the COVID-19 epidemic and to evaluate which interventions are effective for treating and preventing the virus.

Technical Summary

This COVID-19 Rapid Response award is jointly funded (50:50) between the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. The figure displayed is the total award amount of the two funders combined, with each partner contributing equally towards the project.

EAVE (Early Estimation of vaccine and Anti-Viral Effectiveness) was a NIHR-funded project on pandemic influenza, which created a Scotland-wide cohort of 227,000 individuals recruited from 40 general practices together with stored serology samples from 1,000 individuals. EAVE established a national electronic cohort though linking health data sets from general practice, prescribing, hospitalisations and virology testing using the unique Community Health Identification (CHI) number for residents of Scotland. We plan to repurpose and expand this cohort to collect electronic data from 1.2m individuals living in Scotland to study COVID-19. We will augment the cohort by collecting and storing residual sera samples and by sequencing virus from patient specimens. Both of these, are being taken as part of routine care from a sample of these individuals.
We will track the progress of the COVID-19 epidemic in near real-time using the EAVE II cohort. We will be able to model the full course of the epidemic from genome sequence data. Once a serological test becomes available we will be able to refine this model and provide precise estimates of the attack rates in different sub-populations, and accompanying hospitalisation and fatality rates. EAVE II will help to identify the clinical features of the epidemic and, in due course, provide estimates of the effectiveness of any vaccines and anti-viral therapies deployed.
Ethical and Privacy Committee approval has previously been given for the EAVE study and we anticipate the same approvals will readily be obtained for this follow-on study.


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