- Principle of collaboration
+ A: Communication and sharing of resources
+ B: Analysis
+ C: Results and data sharing
- Support for genotyping and sequencing
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis creating severe disruptions across the economy and health system. Insights into how to better understand and treat COVID-19 are desperately needed. Given the importance and urgency in obtaining these insights, it is critical for the scientific community to come together around this shared purpose.
The COVID-19 host genetics initiative brings together the human genetics community to generate, share, and analyze data to learn the genetic determinants of COVID-19 susceptibility, severity, and outcomes. Such discoveries could help to generate hypotheses for drug repurposing, identify individuals at unusually high or low risk, and contribute to global knowledge of the biology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease.
Nothing is written in stone other than we must all act together and with no personal gain or ownership of results – just rapid and immediate dissemination of the maximum possible data and information that can be responsibly released.
The COVID-19 host genetics initiative is a bottom-up collaborative effort that has three main goals:
7 Principles of Collaboration:
Most of the current conversation between participants is happening on the ICDA slack channel. We aim to maintain this channel as the main avenue to exchange information.
Resources that are available and should continue to be shared across participants:
From biobanks with existing significant genetic data and active connections to health systems, there is an opportunity to opportunistically and rapidly develop a genetic study on susceptibility and severity. For this group of studies we will use the structure that has already been put in place by the Global Biobank Meta-analysis Initiative.
We don’t expect that this group of studies will be able to share individual-level data and is likely that the analyses will be done by each participant center and meta-analyzed. Such efforts may happen quickly with relatively small numbers of cases so we encourage all to update case numbers in existing biobank studies, and when available summary statistics from analyses completed, as soon as they are available and aim to update weekly if possible.
Understanding that the opportunistic approach (B:1) will be limited in numbers in most locations, in parallel many have started directly consenting incoming COVID-19 patients with a new protocol in order to build the numbers more rapidly. In some cases, this may take place in the context of a biobank consent, in some places this will require a specific new study. More than just the critical jump in scale for studying progression, severity, and outcomes, these studies bring important additional opportunities not only for deeper DNA studies, but potentially informative viral and antibody profiling and epitope mapping experiments which should be defined and implemented in many sites with relatively small blood/plasma requirements. For this group of studies, the COVID-19 host genetics initiative can provide support with protocols and questionnaires, as described in (A). We strongly encourage these new studies to include in the informed consent a sentence to inform the participants that data will be shared with other scientists to advance COVID-19 research.
Every group is free to choose a study design that suits the study-specific research question and to pursue different approaches for genotyping/sequencing.
We expect that many of the studies will pull individual-level genetic and clinical data together to advance analysis beyond simple GWAS, but also to allow other researchers outside the initiative to use the data. Plans for data sharing are described in (C).
We define two approaches in regards to the analytical activities.
These simple analyses (e.g. SNP-based association analysis, gene-burden test) focuses on some key phenotypes that can benefit from maximal sample size. Invitation to participate in the analysis is sent out on a regular basis to all the partners.
The COVID-19 host genetics initiative provides a platform for groups to self-assemble in working groups. The suggestion is to work together, create a slack channel and an analysis plan. Example are the
#covid19-hg-clonalhematopoeisis Slack channel. The COVID-19 host genetics initiative helps to sponsor these efforts and connect researchers interested in similar topics. The main efforts are described here.
All participants in the initiative will collaborate following the principle of collaboration outlined in the principle of collaboration section. Studies are invited to share individual-level data or results summary statistics. More information about data sharing is provided here.
Following the analysis described in the analysis plan, we run periodical iterations of the analysis and make the summary statistics results publicly available via an association browser which will be hosted on the website here.
The code to perform the analysis will also be made publicly available here
Accelerating discovery, results from meta-analyses generated by the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative are made public immediately for the benefit of the wider biomedical community to advance discovery. Data and results may not be used in attempts to identify individual study participants
We envision two main scenarios for the use of the meta-analyses data with different suggested authorship guidelines.
Whatever the activity, we request that all researchers performing additional research of any kind utilizing these results to share their findings publicly in the spirit of providing the broadest access to emerging knowledge surrounding SARS-CoV-2 infection. We encourage all groups performing genetic studies to share their results and contribute to the design and execution of meta-analyses together
There are several interested parties offering to make additional contributions to this effort in terms of genotyping/sequencing: