The RECOVERY trial has been jointly awarded Health Data Research UK (HDR UK)’s 2021 Impact of the Year Award. This was open to projects which had effectively used health data to improve people’s lives, including through clinical practice, policy, software, algorithms, or publications. The award was presented by James O’Shaughnessy (House of Lords and former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health) on 23 June at HDR UK’s online Annual Scientific Conference: Data Insights in a Pandemic. Applications for the award were reviewed by a panel of experts, who concluded that RECOVERY had demonstrated the power of digitally-driven, data rich trials to transform the speed and scale of clinical research.
The award is shared with the Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 (EAVE II) database. This comprised linked vaccination, primary care, PCR testing, and hospital admission records for 5.4 million people in Scotland. The database was used to determine the real-world effectiveness of the Oxford–AstraZeneca and Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines, and demonstrated that mass roll-out of the first doses was associated with substantial reductions in the risk of hospital admission due to COVID-19.
The Impact of the Year Award shortlist also included PRINCIPLE, a clinical trial researching potential treatments for over 50s in the community that have tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Marion Mafham, Data Linkage Team Lead for RECOVERY, said: ‘RECOVERY brought clinical trials into everyday healthcare delivery, with frontline doctors and nurses consenting and enrolling participants directly at 177 hospitals across the UK. By integrating data from multiple sources, RECOVERY has produced rapid, reliable results improving outcomes in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19. This required our team to use innovation and effective collaboration, identifying the right datasets, linking them to the trial participants and processing the data, while ensuring data security and quality - all whilst working remotely.’
Professor Andrew Morris, Director of HDR UK, said: ‘RECOVERY has changed the way clinical trials are undertaken and provided an exemplar model for using healthcare data in future studies. We were impressed with how the RECOVERY trial team, working in partnership with NHS DigiTrials, the health data research hub for clinical trials, developed new, streamlined processes to rapidly provide high-quality healthcare data, whilst maintaining rigorous information governance standards. Ultimately, this approach enabled the discovery of a life-saving treatment for COVID-19 within just three months.’
HDR UK is an independent charity with a vision that ‘every health and care interaction and research endeavour will be enhanced by access to large scale data and advanced analytics.’ Through engaging stakeholders in academia, healthcare, industry and charities, besides patients and the public, they work to support greater access to datasets for research and innovation. Their activities include building connections between data repositories; developing communities of experts; and providing training opportunities.