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The Economist

The pandemic has spawned a new way to study medical records. Writing in The Economist, Hal Hodson, explains the significance of the OpenSafely platform from a cultural, regulatory and technical perspective, stating that:

“In normal circumstances, merely obtaining permission to look at such a trove of sensitive health data would take months, perhaps years, of jumping through hoops held by ethics committees, computer-security checkers and so on. Running the analysis and getting it published might take months more. These are not, though, normal circumstances, and in fact it took Opensafely a mere 42 days to go from idea to publication.”


This open source project is using Python, SQL and Docker to understand coronavirus health data In this article, Jo Best, interviews Dr. Ben Goldacre to provide a detailed descriptio and analysis of the technical design of the platform, summarising:

“To keep NHS patients’ data as secure as possible, OpenSafely has shifted from a model based on trust (where trusted researchers are approved to work on raw data) to one more based on proof.”


Finally! A way to analyse NHS data from 17 million people. Written by Tom Chivers, this article explains the importance of leaving the raw data inside the EHR vendor and sending the analytic code to the data:

“They developed software which could be given to the local NHS trusts that kept the data; the analysis was then done in-house. The raw, identifiable data stays with the trusts; the more high-level summaries are available for other researchers. The more abstract the summary, the less sensitive it is, and more widely it’s made available.”

Nature Paper - OpenSAFELY: factors associated with COVID-19 death in 17 million patients

New York Times

Study of 17 Million Identifies Crucial Risk Factors for Coronavirus Deaths. Written by Katherine J. Wu, this report covers our Nature paper on factors associated with COVID-19 death focusing on the size of the study and the findings which confirm that race, ethnicity, age and sex can raise a person’s chances of dying from Covid-19.

News Medical

Study of 17 million patients pinpoints COVID-19 mortality risk factors. Written by Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo, this covers our Nature paper and focuses on the implicatons of the findings.

MIT Technology Review

These are the factors that put you at higher risk of dying from covid-19. Written by Charlotte Jee, this article highlights the size of the study and summarises the findings.

Association between living with children and outcomes from COVID-19: an OpenSAFELY cohort study of 12 million adults in England Pre-Print


Coronavirus: Living with children ’no increased risk.’ Written by Naomi Grimley, this article summarises the study findings and quotes Professor Liam Smeeth saying: ““We know that people who live with kids are generally more healthy and have a slightly lower risk of dying of anything.And we see a very similar pattern for bad Covid outcomes such as hospitalisation and death. So there’s no net harm in kids coming back to the house from school.”

Evening Express

Living with children associated with lower risk of Covid-19 death – research. Covering our research on the association between living wiht children and COVID-19 outcomes, this article quotes Dr. Ben Goldacre:

“Our analysis looks at the period when the society was largely open, and then compares that with the period when schools and society were largely closed down.During November and December, it may be that we’ll have a period of society being largely closed down, but schools remain open. If that’s the case, then as this data becomes available, we will rerun our analysis to see if anything is different.”

The Sun

SCHOOLS ‘NO RISK’ Schools do not fuel spread of coronavirus at home, research finds. Written by Nick McDermott, this article summarises the findings of the research.

Daily Mail

Parents of schoolchildren do NOT face a greater risk of being admitted to hospital or dying of the coronavirus, study finds. Written by Luke Andrews and Ben Spencer, this article provides a detailed lay summary of the research findings.

Radio 4 Inside Science

OpenSAFELY researcher, Dr. Laurie Tomlinson, provides a summary of the paper inside the first ten minutes of the show.

Effect of pre-exposure use of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 mortality: a population-based cohort study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus using the OpenSAFELY platform

The Telegraph

Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent death when taken before exposure to Covid, study finds Written by Sarah Newey, this article summarises the findings of the paper and features an interview with lead author Dr Christopher Rentsch.

OpenSafely Press Release

Risk factors for COVID-19 death revealed in world’s largest analysis of patient records to date.

  • Largest study to date, analysing NHS health data from 17.4 million UK adults between 01 February 2020 and 25 April 2020, has given the strongest evidence to date on risk factors associated with COVID-19 death.
  • Among the 17.4 million adults in the sample, there were 5,707 deaths in hospitals attributed to COVID-19.
  • People of Asian and Black ethnic backgrounds are at a higher risk of death and, contrary to prior speculation, this is only partially attributable to pre-existing clinical risk factors or deprivation.
  • Key factors related to COVID-19 death included being male, older age, uncontrolled diabetes and severe asthma.
  • A deprived background was also found to be a major risk factor: this was also only partially attributable to other clinical risk factors.


Covid-19: Known risk factors fail to explain the increased risk of death among people from ethnic minorities. Written by Jacqui Wise, this news report covering our ‘factors associated with’ paper focuses on the finding that black people had more than double the risk of dying from covid-19 compared with those with ethnicity recorded as white.

Medical News Today

COVID-19: Ethnicity may raise mortality risk. Covering our ‘factors assocatied with’ paper, this story focuses on the fact that our data confirms males, older people, and those with underlying health conditions have a higher risk of COVID-19 death. It features a quote, from co-PI Professor Liam Smeeth:

“The answers provided by this OpenSAFELY analysis are of crucial importance to countries around the world. For example, it is very concerning to see that the higher risks faced by people from [BAME] backgrounds are not attributable to identifiable underlying health conditions.”

Healthcare IT News

Researchers analyse 17.4 million NHS patient EHRs in the world’s largest study to date on COVID-19 deaths. Summarising the findings of our ‘factors associated with’ paper, this article highlights the finding that increased mortality risk for ethnic minorities is only partially attributable to pre-existing clinical risk factors. It also notes that the study is the largest on COVID-19 conducted by any country to date, and therefore gives the strongest evidence on risk factors.


Coronavirus: Does being overweight or obese affect how ill people get? This report, focusing on the risks associated with being overweight, cites the finding from our ‘factors associated with’ paper: “a study of NHS electronic health records found a doubling of the risk of dying from Covid-19 among people who were obese.”

The Health Tech Newspaper

17.4 million GP records analysed in largest COVID-19 study. Summarsing the main findings of the ‘factors associated with’ paper, this story states: “Of the records used in the study there were 5,707 deaths in hospitals attributed to COVID-19, with key factors found to be related to death included being male, older age, uncontrolled diabetes and severe asthma.”


Coronavirus: Underlying health conditions don’t explain higher BAME deaths, say scientists. Focusing on the implications of our ‘factors associated with’ paper for individuals from ethnic minority groups, this story quotes co-PI Dr. Ben Goldacre:

“People have very reasonably speculated that the increased risk among BME people might be attributable to them having higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and what our very detailed analysis shows is that is actually not the case, that’s not the explanation. “So we’ve been able to exclude one of the current preferred explanations for why BME people face higher risks, and it was impossible to do that with the ONS data alone.”

CBS News

Black people in England and Wales are four times more likely to die from the coronavirus, data shows. In this story, reporter Haley Ott, again focuses on the fact that the ‘factors associated with’ paper found that once pre-existing health conditions had been adjusted for, black and ethnic minority people are still more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people.

News Medical

Largest study to date reveals risk factors for COVID-19 death. This story covers the main fndings of the ‘factors associated with’ paper, but focuses primarily on the fact that this is the largest study on COVID-19 conducted by any country to date, and therefore gives the strongest evidence on risk factors associated with COVID-19 death.

Medical Express

Risk factors for COVID-19 death revealed in world’s largest analysis of patient records Whilst also summarising the key findings of the ‘factors associated with’ paper, this story pays particular attention to the size of the study, noting that it is the largest study to date.