Genomic Viral Data Sharing During the COVID-19 Pandemic




Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

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Identifying barriers, opportunities and lessons learned in relation to genomic viral data sharing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BEIS | Research Consulting

Open data sharing can bring enormous benefits to scientists, citizens, governments, and businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the open sharing of genomic viral data played a significant role in developing public health responses worldwide. Some controls, however, may be needed, to protect the privacy of individuals, public safety and security, or indigenous and other disadvantaged communities.

Research Consulting was commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to identify barriers, opportunities and lessons learned associated with genomic viral data sharing during COVID-19. The study also aimed to add depth and precision to existing recommendations on data sharing across borders, and to bolster the commitments made during the UK’s G7 Presidency, as outlined in the G7 Research Compact.

The project involved a systematic review of evidence, including 300 sources identified via desk-research and an additional 120 sources identified from a similar study on open research practices during the pandemic. This was supplemented through interviews and focus groups with subject-matter experts, policymakers and infrastructure providers representing both G7 and non-G7 countries. Findings were synthesized via thematic analysis and presented in a final project workshop and report. The report was subject to internal and external peer-review by international experts and members of the Infrastructure Sub-Group of the G7 Open Science Working Group. The findings are intended to inform understanding of open science best practice in responding to future global emergencies.

It was great working with Rob and the Research Consulting team on this UK report exploring open science lessons learned. I was grateful for their project expertise, stakeholder engagement, analysis and insight into this crucial area for global science and strengthening resilience for future emergencies.Katherine Barnes, Head of Multilateral Research & Innovation · Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)