New partnership to support government response to Covid-19 

The RSS and the Alan Turing Institute are to partner with the Department of Health and Social Care’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to boost the government’s data analysis capabilities and support its response to Covid-19.

The new partnership will provide independent insight and analysis of NHS Test and Trace data by setting up a statistical modelling and machine learning virtual laboratory, to help understand how the virus is spreading and inform faster and more targeted interventions at local and national levels.

According to the head of the JBC, Dr Clare Gardiner, the work will include: 

  • Helping to shape the JBC’s estimates of the current rate of spread in different areas and forecasting the future rate of spread
  • Increasing the depth of the JBC’s analysis of which factors appear to have the largest effect on the number of cases
  • Further examination of the effects of the different interventions. 

The new partnership was described as ‘fantastic news,’ by Health Minister Lord Bethell, who explained that the new ‘virtual lab’ will openly publish research focused on areas of national priority, including statistical methodologies, both as research papers and blog posts, and in the form of open source computer code.

RSS President-elect, Professor Sylvia Richardson, who co-chairs the RSS Covid-19 Task Force, also welcomed the new partnership. ‘Statistical modelling has a key role to play in giving us an insight into the spread of the virus, so we as statisticians can assist decision-makers with the policy decisions that affect us all,’ she said. 

‘The Royal Statistical Society, along with the Alan Turing Institute, will be able to work transparently and independently in providing the research that is needed at both local and national level.’

Read the government announcement.

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