The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how important the sharing of data and biobank samples can be in accelerating research efforts. A unique national COVID-19 biobank sample collection has now been added to the COVID-19 Sample Collection Database, which is available through the Swedish Pandemic Preparedness Portal. This collection includes over 1.5 million samples that are available for use in research. The samples were collated as part of a collaboration between Swedish regional health agencies, the National Pandemic Center (NPC) at Karolinska Institutet, and Biobank Sweden. Easy access to biobank samples, made possible through collections such as this, is a crucial part of Swedish pandemic preparedness efforts.
Over the last three years, a large number of different types of biobank samples related to COVID-19 have been collected by healthcare agencies across Sweden . Many of these samples were sequenced at the National Pandemic Center (NPC), a research facility at Karolinska Institutet/SciLifeLab, located at Karolinska Institutet, who then stored the samples in accordance with the Infection Protection Act.
The over 1.5 mission biobank samples, which cover the entire timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic now form the National COVID-19 Sample Collection, which has now been made available for use in research. Biobank Sweden has been instrumental in making these biobank samples available for the research community. To ensure easy access to the sample, Biobank Sweden has, in collaboration with the regional health agencies and NPC, developed a new national routine for researchers to apply for and get access to the samples stored the National COVID-19 Sample Collection. Biobank Sweden has now released information about the application process and the relevant application forms. Read more here: https://biobanksverige.se/en/new-routine-enables-access-to-1-5-million-swedish-covid-19-samples-for-research/.
Today, information about the new National COVID-19 Sample Collection was also added to the COVID-19 Sample Collection Database (SCD). The SCD, launched in February 2021, was developed by SciLifeLab Data Centre in collaboration with Biobank Sweden, and the SciLifeLab and KAW National COVID-19 Research Program’s research area Biobanks for COVID-19.
The database is available on the Swedish Pandemic Preparedness Portal. It enables users to identify biobank sample collections that they could made use of in their own work, as well as providing information about how to apply for access. The Portal is operated by SciLifeLab Data Centre and part of the SciLifeLab Pandemic Laboratory Preparedness (PLP) Program. The COVID-19 Sample Collection Database allows researchers to explore biobanks sample collections and identify which match their specific research needs. For example, it is possible to filter by sample collection name, keywords (e.g. ), COVID-19 diagnosis, material available (e.g. nasal swabs), and sample collection type (healthcare sample collections or research sample collections).
“We are thrilled to be able to add information about this unique new collection to the Sample Collection Database. This national collection of COVID-19 related samples offers new opportunities for researchers, for example, in performing retrospective analysis of how COVID-19 spread and risk factors associated with COVID-19 etc.” says Liane Hughes, project lead for the Portal team at SciLifeLab Data Centre,
Looking to the future, Biobanks Sweden and SciLifeLab will continue to collaborate to increase the findability, accessibility, and usability of biobank sample collections. The biobanks sample collection is crucial in ensuring future pandemic preparedness, not just for research on COVID-19, and it important that researchers are able to make use of this key resource.
“The overall aim of the sample collection database is to maximise the accessibility of the samples and facilitate use of the collections. If we can increase the use and reuse of biobank research sample and healthcare sample collections, it will greatly increase their value”, says Elisabeth Norén, Project Coordinator at Biobank Sweden and instrumental in the SciLifeLab and Biobank Sweden collaboration.