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Database of COVID-19 sample collections and biobanks in Sweden launched

Published: 2021-02-24

Database of COVID-19 sample collections and biobanks in Sweden launched
Screenshot of the COVID-19 Sample Collection Database.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on healthcare and society demonstrate the importance of openness and collaboration in research. Data sharing and reuse is of outmost importance to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and to build preparedness for future outbreaks. One area where sharing is especially important is biobanking. Access to biobank samples is often needed to conduct research - for example, for drug discovery and drug repurposing.

Today, we are launching the Swedish COVID-19 Sample Collection Database which has been developed by the SciLifeLab Data Centre in collaboration with Biobank Sweden and the SciLifeLab National COVID-19 research program’s research area Biobanks for COVID-19. The development of the database was supported by a recently announced funding initiative by the Swedish Research Council to Biobank Sweden that aims to facilitate the coordination of the work on collecting samples related to COVID-19 by various biobanks in the country. Until now, no Swedish resource allowing to search for biobank sample collections at a national level has been available.

The database allows researchers to easily search for available collections of interest using various filters. The filter searches include: name, keywords, diagnosis, available biological materials (e.g., nasal swabs, DNA, saliva, whole blood, RNA, etc.), sample collection type (healthcare sample collections or research sample collections) and data types (at the moment, collections containing biological material and medical records are available). For each collection, a short description, donor information, sample information as well as contact information for sample requests are provided. The number of samples available in each collection vary. At the moment, the largest collection is the Uppsala Covid-19 ICU Biobank which contains over 10.000 samples and over 10 different biological materials.

At the time of launch, the Swedish COVID-19 Sample Collection Database contains information about 26 sample collections from 16 different biobanks. The database will be gradually expanded as information about new sample collections and biobanks is submitted.

Both healthcare sample collections and research sample collections are listed in the database. Healthcare sample collections are intended for diagnostics, treatment, and healthcare use but can be made available if a corresponding ethical approval from the Swedish Ethical Review Authority has been obtained. In case of the research sample collections, the responsible researcher has the right of disposal to the sample collection and requests should be made directly to collection head. In this case, too, however, the new research study will need to either fall under the original ethics research approval or a new one will need to be obtained.

SciLifeLab and Biobank Sweden see the Swedish COVID-19 Sample Collection Database as an important tool for accelerating the COVID-19 research in Sweden. Johan Rung, Head of SciLifeLab Data Centre, says: “We believe this new database will simplify finding samples for new COVID-19 studies. The collaboration with Biobank Sweden has been very positive and we are particularly happy to be able to provide a service that combines information from both healthcare and research sample collections in the same place. Increased availability of both data and samples is central to strengthening our pandemic preparedness in Sweden.”

Those wishing to submit information about their sample collections to the database should contact Biobank Sverige (the linked page also contains forms for adding new collections to the database). Questions, comments, or suggestions regarding the database can be sent to datacentre@scilifelab.se.


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