The NRP Biorepository has taken a key role in the fight against COVID-19 by managing the successful, secure transfer of anonymised patient data between hospitals in Norfolk and Suffolk and scientists at the Quadram Institute.
Since March 2020, the Quadram Institute has been one of the genome sequencing centres in the COVID-19 Genomic UK (COG-UK) consortium, tracking the virus as well as helping identify and trace its lineages as they emerge and spread. This information can then help the NHS and public health know what lineages they are dealing with to then decide how best to try and control or contain the outbreak.
This important genomic epidemiology work as part of COG-UK and feeds into the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) but none of it would be possible without the assistance of the NRP Biorepository.
While Quadram researchers sequence COVID-19 they do still need limited and anonymised information about those samples to be able to identify patterns and links in the transmission of the virus. The Biorepository is part of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has secure access to this data (typically age, sex and the outward code of the postcode e.g. NR4) and is able to successfully screen it before passing it over to Quadram Institute researchers to ensure they are given relevant data that allows them to study the virus whilst withholding sensitive, identifiable data and thus ensuring legal and ethical guidelines are met.
This way, the Biorepository acts as a vital intermediary, facilitating the streamlined and accurate transfer of relevant data between the hospitals and the Quadram Institute, with a rapid turnover and reliable results.