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Swansea University has received £125k of funding from Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) to study the impact of the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The £125,196 funding award will allow the Swansea University team made up of public health professors, researchers, data scientists, cardiology and biomedical professors, based in Population Data Science and working with colleagues at Swansea Bay University Health Board, to work in partnership with a UK-wide research consortium to examine the impact of cardiovascular disease on Covid-19 and the impact of Covid-19 on cardiovascular disease.

This research forms part of the CVD-COVID-UK flagship project consortium, which is led by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Data Science Centre, at HDR UK.  This project aims to understand the relationship between COVID-19 and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke on the UK population.

The Swansea multi-disciplinary team of data analysts, statisticians and mathematical modellers will work with the consortium to examine Welsh population data held in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, a state of the art privacy-protecting system, funded by Welsh Government as part of the national research infrastructure, which has supported hundreds of population and clinical studies over the last 11-years.

Swansea University will provide crucial support to this UK-wide project along with access to, support for and collaboration on the analysis of the SAIL Databank, to evaluate both direct and indirect harms from COVID-19.

This evaluation will provide detailed and insightful analyses for the growing policy, operational and research communities, which include the Welsh Government’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), Public Health Wales, NHS, local government, third sector organisations and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M).

Project lead Ashley Akbari, senior research manager and data scientist at Population Data Science at the university’s Medical School said:  “This award represents a milestone in collaborations between Swansea University, the BHF Data Science Centre, CVD-COVID-UK and HDR UK - working together to enable research around the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 for people with cardiovascular conditions. We hope with this grant to continue the team science-based culture that has been present to date, which has enabled the delivery of crucial intelligence and outcomes around COVID-19 in collaboration with partners around the UK.”

Professor Ronan Lyons, Public Health at Population Data Science at Swansea University, added:  “The BHF HDR UK investment is a significant commitment and will enable our team in Swansea to carry out this critical work that will underpin a range of research going forward.  Linking and analysing the data can increase our understanding of CVD and COVID-19 and help accelerate treatments and reduce the impact on the population – benefiting people here in the UK and worldwide."

Professor Cathie Sudlow, Director of the BHF Data Science Centre, at HDR UK, said: “The BHF Data Science Centre is delighted to be working on this important initiative with experts in large scale data linkage and analysis at Swansea University. The partnership will make a crucial contribution to our vision of improving the public’s cardiovascular health through population-wide health data research during the COVID pandemic and beyond.”

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