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Data dashboard to shed more light on Covid-19 trends

Image: Cory M. Grenier [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Researchers in the UK have launched an interactive data site for examining coronavirus

An interdisciplinary collaboration called i-sense, led by researchers at University College London, has developed a data visualisation dashboard for Covid-19 that collates data from the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England and the NHS in one place.

The aim of the i-sense Covid Response Evaluation Dashboard (Covid Red), which launched on 28 October with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is to bring disparate data sources together to make it easier for academics and the public to delve into information about coronavirus infections and track trends.

Deenan Pillay, a professor at UCL and one of the team members, said: “Coronavirus case numbers are doubling every two weeks at the moment, and access to real-time data will be essential during this time to monitor hot-spots of infection as we head into winter so that local health authorities can better control community spread.”

In developing the dashboard, the team said they revealed “significant issues regarding the quality, consistency and availability of reliable data”, and “significant gaps in data quality and availability”.

For example, they said no routine data are collected on how well requests for 14-day isolation are adhered to, which makes it “impossible to currently assess how effective NHS Test and Trace is in reducing Covid-19 transmission”.

The team also identified gaps in information regarding follow-up of confirmed Covid-19 cases. “At present,” they said, “the number of people isolating with symptoms in England is unknown.”

They added that the best available data in some cases is up to two weeks old, and called for “real-time information to be prioritised to inform and support the necessary responses, including regional or local lockdowns”.