Roundup: European Commission's latest effort to help fight COVID-19, NHS COVID-19 app uptake dependent on privacy, and more news briefs

Also - Dutch company offers free analysis of COVID-19 CT scans.
By Sophie Porter
01:46 AM

EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO HOST PLEDGING EFFORT TO FUND INTERNATIONAL COVID-19 RESPONSE

The European Commission have announced an international pledging conference starting on Monday 4 May, to raise money for life-saving tools and treatments for the fight against COVID-19. Along with its partners, the EU hope to raise €7.5 billion to kick-start the necessary development of universally available and effective care.

Introducing the scheme, former president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė said: “Global pandemic challenge needs our global efforts and only together can we make our world better, safer and stronger. So let’s fight coronavirus with all means and force available to us. Our world depends on our united actions.”


HDR UK TO SUPPORT COVID-19 HEALTHCARE THROUGH NEW DATA INITIATIVES

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is forming two partnerships with the NHS that will bring together 58 organisations across healthcare for new data initiatives in a bid to address some of the pressing health challenges uncovered by the COVID-19 crisis. HDR UK North will address frailty management in vulnerable patients and the HDR UK South-West will focus on early detection of health deterioration. The institute is also collaborating with the Health Foundation on projects to improve data science and health analytics nationwide.

Caroline Cake, CEO at HDR UK, said: “We are delighted to welcome these two Better Care partnerships and four projects to HDR UK. They bring significant and demonstrable capabilities in using clinical data to transform health and care of patients. The importance of this capability is evident in the context of COVID-19 and supports our mission to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that will improve people’s lives.”


DUTCH COMPANY LAUNCHES FREE ANALYSIS OF COVID-19 CT SCANS

Dutch AI imaging service Thirona has launched a free solution for CT scan analysis in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The launch follows the earlier release of CAD4COVID-Xray, similar imaging analysis software for X-rays. By partnering with German company Smart Reporting, both tools have been made available to healthcare professionals across the world in the hope of minimising clinician workload.

Dr. Eva van Rikxoort, MD of Thirona, said: “We believe imaging and AI can make a difference in the COVID-19 pandemic. We developed two solutions to triage COVID-19 based on our existing AI software for diseases like COPD, asthma and tuberculosis.”


NHS COVID-19 APP UPTAKE DEPENDENT ON ASSURED DATA PRIVACY, STUDY SAYS

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, have published a policy position paper supporting the proposed NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing app. It found that in order to ensure uptake, however, it must address the “perceived ‘Big Brother’ elements of the implementation.” The effectiveness of the app relies on it achieving 60% uptake by the population. The paper also underlined how the app should facilitate mass testing, work strategically with devolved authorities and safeguard against the misuse or trade of people’s personal data.

Kathy Farndon, vice president, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “Contact tracing apps must be founded on ‘privacy by design, privacy by default’ principles and Government must set a high bar for transparent and ethical data governance as its future legitimacy and trust with public data is at stake. It is vital that the impacts of a contact tracing app - as part of the UK’s response to COVID-19 - are considered in terms of the key challenges it presents such as data protection, privacy, public trust and civil liberties.”

Introducing the scheme, former president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė said: “Global pandemic challenge needs our global efforts and only together can we make our world better, safer and stronger. So let’s fight coronavirus with all means and force available to us. Our world depends on our united actions.”


COVID-19 CONTACTING TRACING DATA WON’T BE SOLD, SAY NHSX

NHSX, the technology arm of the UK's NHS, CEO Matthew Gould assured critics that confidential data generated by the new COVID-19 contact tracing app would not be sold off to private companies. The app has come under fire for the privacy risks of using a centralised server for the app, which will store the anonymised data. Gould mentioned the “false dichotomy of centralised equals non-privacy secure, decentralised means privacy-friendly” and underlined the fact that all information would be provided with the consent of the user and will display “identifiers rather than identities.”

Addressing the Science and Technology Committee, Gould continued: “I would be very sorry if people started talking about sharing this data with the private sector as if it was a possibility. I do not see it as a possibility.”


GAMES FOR CARERS GIFTED FREE VIDEO GAMES TO NHS WORKERS IN THANKS

The UK games industry has banded together to form the Games for Carers initiative, offering free video games to NHS workers and their families. UK games body Ukie and marketing platform Keymail brought together 63 studios including EA, Sega, Xbox and Konami to release over 85,000 games for free download, accessible with an NHS email address. Companies have also been sharing the government’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ message in many online games.

Digital and Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “We have worked closely with games companies to help keep people safe and I am delighted the sector is continuing to support the NHS in such an innovative way.”

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, added: “[The UK games] community has united to say thank you to the truly extraordinary people who make up the NHS frontline team. Games companies of all sizes and players everywhere recognise their exceptional dedication and hope this initiative goes some way to help them to understand how respected and valued they are.”

More regional news

(Top row: left to right) Dr Charles Alessi, HIMSS, Dr Peter Gocke, Charité in Berlin (Germany)

(Bottom row: left-right) Dr Afzal Chaudhry, Cambridge University Hospitals (UK), Dr Jan Kimpen, Philips (Netherlands)

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