The national COVID-19 Data Portal turns one year old

3 June 2021

In addition to researchers, users of the COVID-19 Data Portal include healthcare professionals, industry, the public and press

The national Swedish COVID-19 Data Portal was launched one year ago to support researchers in utilising Swedish and European infrastructures for data sharing. Since then, the portal has welcomed 20,000 visitors and provided direct support to a great many research projects.

The national Swedish COVID-19 Data Portal is developed and run by the SciLifeLab Data Centre and partners on behalf of the Swedish Research Council. In addition to researchers, users of the portal include healthcare professionals, industry, the public and press. The portal, the Swedish node of the European COVID-19 Data Portal, makes research data, information, services and tools available.

Johan Rung, head of the SciLifeLab Data Centre.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

One of the services available in the portal is a publication database that during its first year compiled over 1,300 COVID-19-related scientific publications. These publications all have at least one co-author affiliated to a Swedish higher education institution or research institute. In many of these publications, researchers have openly shared their data and the team behind the portal are delighted to have contributed support to a number of these research groups.

“The Swedish COVID-19 Data Portal has received an extremely positive reception during its first year, both nationally and internationally. Thanks to the portal, we have established collaborations with an international network of organisations focused on open data sharing, as well as with European infrastructures for research data,” says Johan Rung, head of the SciLifeLab Data Centre.

Many services developed

A number of services have been developed over the course of the year. In addition to the publication database, a sample collection database has been built up so that researchers can share information about sample collections and biobanks with samples that can be used in COVID-19 research. This database, which has been developed in collaboration with Biobank Sweden, contains both clinical and academic sample collections. The portal also makes statistics available related to SARS-CoV-2 testing and virus levels in wastewater samples.

“Just as the societal response to the pandemic is currently in the process of moving towards vaccines and future pandemic preparedness, the Data Portal will develop new features to meet the new needs,” says Johan Rung.

The Data Portal is also helping researchers to publicise their research, both for the scientific community and the public. Two partner projects with their own services and resources also share data through the portal: Crush COVID, a collaboration between Uppsala University and Region Uppsala, and COVID Symptom Study Sweden, a collaboration between Lund University and Uppsala University. Currently, the most visited section of the portal is the results from testing of virus levels in wastewater from Uppsala and neighbouring municipalities, Stockholm, Umeå and Örebro.

Competition for researchers and the public

In order to strengthen commitment to and demonstrate the scientific importance of data sharing, the portal is now launching the COVID-19 Data and Code Reuse Competition. Both researchers and the public are invited to contribute projects that reuse data or code made available via the national COVID-19 Data Portal.

“We are deeply grateful that researchers choose to share their data, thereby contributing to accelerated research, increased reproducibility and new analyses. This in turn may generate new research results and new knowledge. Our aim is to further improve support to vital societal initiatives in response to this pandemic,” says Johan Rung.

COVID-19 Data Portal

  • High demands have been placed on international cooperation in the interests of contending with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The open sharing of research data and code, opportunities to reuse data and an emphasis on promoting collaboration are important tools for boosting research and development.
  • In Spring 2020, the European Commission initiated the development of a European data-sharing platform by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).
  • In Sweden, the Swedish Research Council was tasked with coordinating Swedish participation in the platform and delegated the development of COVID-19 Data Portal Sweden to the SciLifeLab Data Centre. On 3 June, it will be exactly one year since the portal was launched.