PopData Support for COVID-19 Research

Date posted: 
Thursday, April 9, 2020

Population Data BC (PopData) is pleased to partner with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), the BC Ministry of Health (MoH), the BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) 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.


What data will be available?

A 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)

Other data sets are under discussion. 

How up-to-date will the data be?

COVID-19 testing data will be current.

For other data sets, PopData is able to provide open-year data. Data provided to researchers will be relatively recent, within the constraints of administrative data, and subject to routine updating of Ministry of Health data holdings. Ultimately this means there may be a lag of a few weeks rather than the traditional months or years.

This process was made possible through work over the past two years by PopData and the MoH, supported by the MoH and the BC SUPPORT Unit.

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.


Page last revised: April 14, 2020