PopData Support for COVID-19 Research

Population Data BC (PopData) is partnering with the BC Ministry of Health (MoH), the BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN), the BC Ministry of Citizens' Services, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), and others to support research related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PopData is also part of Health Data Research Network Canada, which is supporting multi-jurisdictional research.

All information provided here is expected to evolve and will be updated as that happens.

BC Ministry of Health

Health Data Platform BC (HDPBC) will support public health and scientific research on COVID-19 through an expedited data access process. COVID-19 data requests funded by Genome, MSFHR and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will follow an expedited approval process. Requests funded by other bodies will be reviewed by The COVID-19 Strategic Research Advisory Committee (SRAC).   

PopData will be handling the data access request (DAR) process for academic researchers. If you have a COVID-19 related research project, please contact: dataaccess@popdata.bc.ca.

Data sets available

Data sets Scope
COVID Testing data Individuals tested and their result, starting Jan 2020
Mortality data - Vital Statistics Back to 2008, including current year
Fee for Service (MSP) data All available years, including current year
Chronic Disease Registry Latest version
Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) All available years, including current year
National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) All available years, including current year
Health System Matrix Latest version
PharmaNet All available years, including current year
Client Roster Latest version
811 All available years


This work is being developed and led by the Ministry of Health with matched funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) through their national Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), the BC SUPPORT Unit (an operating unit of BC AHSN that implements SPOR in BC), and the Province of BC. More information on HDPBC may be found on the HDPBC website.

The Data Innovation Program

PopData and the BC Ministry of Health are working with the Province’s Data Innovation Program (DI Program) providing academic access to the program for priority projects that support BC’s COVID-19 response and require data from other provincial ministries. 

Will the data access process change?

All requests will still continue to require both peer review and ethical review. Research Ethics BC (part of the BC AHSN) just announced a rapid review process for COVID-19 provincial clinical research projects.

Projects that are funded through the MSFHR rapid-response program will be expedited. More details on other requests will be provided as they are available.

How is PopData working with MSFHR specifically?

Projects submitted to MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response fund do not need to include a budget for data access through PopData. Projects must outline data requirements, and will need to complete a Data Access Request to PopData, but funding for this is being addressed directly through the PopData-MSFHR partnership.

Results of Researcher survey identified high priority data sets

survey of researchers identified high-priority data sets, all of which will be available for approved COVID-19-related projects. This includes:

  • COVID-19 testing data, individual-level for both those positive and negative
  • Fee-for-service physician payments (MSP)
  • Hospital separations (Discharge Abstract Database, or DAD)
  • Emergency Department visits (NACRS)
  • Prescription pharmaceuticals (PharmaNet)
  • Deaths (Vital Statistics)


> Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Case Definition and Related Coding
> Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Research Resources
> COVID-19 Response from the Health Data Research Network Canada