Finding the evidence: Coronavirus

PHE Knowledge and Library Services team (KLS) has produced this page to help those, working on the current coronavirus outbreak, to identify and access emerging evidence as it is published.

The page signposts to a range of open access resources that have been promoted by different groups including National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center, Erasmus MC, Cambridge University, Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Evidence Aid, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Most of the resources are freely accessible but some may ask for an OpenAthens sign-in. It is therefore important that your OpenAthens details are up-to-date. PHE staff unable to access an article or resource, can email for assistance. Non-PHE staff are advised to contact their local health librarian for support if necessary.

PHE Knowledge and Library Services have also compiled a coronavirus book collection, for PHE staff.

On this page:


Keeping up to date

There are three ways to keep up to date with the latest advice, guidance, and research about COVID-19 (formerly referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCov):

  1. PHE Daily Status Updates
    Public Health England is publishing daily updates about the status of COVID-19 in the UK and these updates are available here.
  2. PHE International Epidemiology Daily Evidence Digest
    The COVID-19 Response Team produces a daily evidence digest, which contain evidence from journal articles, both published and in press/preprints. Please note that preprints are preliminary reports of work that have NOT been peer-reviewed. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behaviour and should NOT be reported in news media as established information. The evidence is organised into 7 themes (diagnostics and genomics, epidemiology and clinical, infection control, treatment, social sciences, miscellaneous, and modelling). Below are links to the latest issues:
    2nd April 2020
    1st April 2020
    31st March 2020
    30th March 2020
    27th March 2020
    26th March 2020
    25th March 2020
    24th March 2020
    23rd March 2020
    20th March 2020

    19th March 2020
    18th March 2020

    17th March 2020
    16th March 2020
    13th March 2020
    12th March 2020
  3. COV-ID Alert – PHE Knowledge and Library Service
    PHE Knowledge and Library Services produce a daily alert containing links to research and news on the latest coronavirus outbreak. If you would like to receive this email alert, which contains latest research articles and news from government departments, please contact

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Information specifically for UK health professionals

This information has been produced for health professionals in the UK:

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Live clinical trials

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Innovation Observatory is providing daily updates in their dashboard of clinical trials in the pipeline for potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) treatments. They are collecting information on SARS-CoV-2 tests currently in development or commercially available for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

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Resources from international organisations

These resources have been produced by key public health organisations to support the management of COVID-19:

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Special collections

The following organisations are providing access to rapid reviews, evidence syntheses, and specialist topics related to COVID-19:

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The following organisations are providing access to guidance about COVID-19:

  • World Health Organization
    WHO has produced technical guidance, covering topics such as country readiness, patient management, risk communication and community engagement, surveillance and case definitions, infection prevention and control in health care facilities, disease commodity package, laboratory guidance, early investigations, and reduction of transmission from animals to humans.
  • NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence): Rapid guidelines and evidence reviews
    The guidelines are developed in collaboration with NHS England and NHS Improvement and a cross-speciality clinical group, supported by the specialist societies and royal colleges. Rapid evidence reviews that have been prioritised will look at whether certain medicines may increase the severity or length of COVID-19 illness.
  • Medbox
    The MEDBOX team has compiled a collection of the most important guidelines and resources, situation reports, communication tools, laboratory guidance, etc.
  • Guidance on community engagement for public health events caused by communicable disease threats in the EU/EEA
    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has produced guidance on community engagement for public health emergency preparedness for public health authorities in EU/EEA Member States. The guidance is organised according to the three core stages of the preparedness cycle: anticipation, response, and recovery.
  • Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.
  • The Sphere standards and the Coronavirus response
    The Sphere movement aims to improve the quality of humanitarian work during disaster response. They have provided information on how individuals, communities and humanitarian actors best respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The document has two sections:
    1. The first section covers fundamental principles which are crucial to a successful, holistic intervention.
    2. The second covers relevant standards and guidance in the handbook’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH) and Health chapters.
  • Hospital readiness checklist for COVID-19
    This checklist, from the World Health Organization, has been prepared with the aim of supporting hospital managers and emergency planners in achieving the above by defining and initiating actions needed to ensure a rapid response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The checklist is structured on eleven key components; under each component, there is a list of questions regarding the status of implementation of the recommended action specific to that component.
  • Elsevier COVID-19 Clinical Tool Kit
    Clinical resources and tools focused on the latest evidence-based practices for COVID-19 covering topics from symptom management to diagnosis, treatment and ongoing wellness.

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Multi-language resources

The following organisations are making their resources available in different languages:

  • Evidence Aid
    A collection of resources published in 
    Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Georgian, and Portuguese.
  • Elsevier Novel Coronavirus Information Center
    This includes information published in Mandarin Chinese, from sources including the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Reports and news in other languages
    Imperial College London’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis has collated news and reports about the latest outbreak of the coronavirus, in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Arabic.
  • UpToDate
    Guidelines included on this site, are available in Japanese.

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Journal collections (freely available)

Google Scholar has collated the hubs of some of the main biomedical journals on their homepage, to make it easier to access them.

Some more major publishers of medical journals have made coronavirus-related content freely available.

  • American Society for Microbiology
  • British Medical Journal
    The BMJ has produced a special issue on the topic, and is providing free access to BMJ Best Practice topics, including coronavirus, SARS, and MERS.
  • CABI
    Free access for three months is available to 17,000 relevant records on coronavirus from Global Health and CAB Abstracts databases, including content on epidemiology, prevention, and control of SARS and MERS, and research on animal coronaviruses. To gain the access visit the Global Health website, go to ‘login’ and follow the registration instructions and copy and paste voucher code CV10YLTW42E3 into ‘redeem a voucher’ section.
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Cell Press
  • Dynamed
  • Elsevier Novel Coronavirus Information Center
    This resource contains guidance, clinical information, some specially written for this purpose, including access to research articles in Elsevier journals. Other types of content include downloadable patient education resources, nursing care plans and skills, and links to global public health authorities and national health ministries.
  • Emerald Publishing
  • JAMA Network
  • Journal of Medical Virology: Special issue: 2019 Novel Coronavirus origin, evolution, disease, biology and epidemiology: Part‐I
  • Karger Publishers
  • The Lancet
  • Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
    This publisher has made a collection of articles from the journal Health Security, freely available.
  • National Center for Biotechnology Information and U.S. National Library of Medicine
    LitCovid is a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus.
  • Nature
    This is a collection of infection-related articles.
  • New England Journal of Medicine
    This is a collection of articles and other resources on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak, including clinical reports, management guidelines, and commentary
  • Oxford University Press
  • Preprints
    These two servers – medRxiv Health Sciences and bioRxiv Biology – provide open access to preprints of preliminary reports of work that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behaviour and should not be reported in news media as established information.
  • Project MUSE
  • Springer Nature
  • Taylor & Francis
  • Thieme
  • UpToDate
    All UpToDate topics are updated as new evidence becomes available, and a peer review process is complete. UpToDate has produced a Coronavirus topic, in English and Chinese, and they have curated a list of novel coronavirus guidelines from global and national agencies such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, World Health Organization, and other public health organisations.

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Epidemiological information

The following organisations provide epidemiological information:

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Systematic review support

Rayyan is a free web application to help systematic review authors create systematic reviews and collaborate on them. They have created a public Rayyan review, made up of the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, published by the Allen Institute for AI. The dataset contains over 45,000 scholarly articles, including over 33,000 with full text, about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses. Once logged in, the review is in the “Other Reviews” tab (called “Review containing the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset”). The references can be viewed and exported in order to create systematic reviews.

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Live literature searches

Australian Health Libraries has created a page containing approximately 20 COVID-19-related searches, organised by topic.

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Searching databases

If you need assistance with developing and running searches, PHE staff can contact If you would like a specialist to undertake a search for you please log into our Knowledge and Library Service Enquiries Portal to submit a literature search request.

Non-PHE staff are advised to contact their local health librarian for support if necessary.

Google and Google Scholar are two popular information sources, but there are also some bibliographic databases, such as PubMed, Medline, Embase, Global Health, and Global Index Medicus, which support more advanced searching and provide access to relevant biomedical journals. 

The World Health Organization is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) and compiling it in a database. The database is updated daily from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searches of the table of contents of relevant journals, and the addition of other relevant scientific articles. The entries in the database may not be exhaustive and new research will be added regularly.

    • Search terms
      To search these resources, it is important to use the right terminology. This is not an exhaustive list of search terms, as the terminology is changing regularly, but it is a starting point, and a combination of these terms can be used to search:
  • coronavirus*
  • coronovirus*
  • “Coronavirus”
  • “Coronavirus Infections”
  • “Wuhan coronavirus”
  • Wuhan
  • “2019-nCoV”
  • COVID-19
  • CORVID-19
  • CONVID-19
  • WN-CoV
  • HCoV-19
  • “novel coronavirus”
  • “new coronavirus”
  • CoV
  • 2019 novel
  • new coronavirus
  • ncov
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • SARSCov19
  • ncov*wuhan
  • (outbreak* OR “respiratory illness” OR “respiratory disease” OR respiratory symptom* OR seafood market OR food market OR wildlife) and (Wuhan OR China OR Chinese)
  • Search strategies
    A number of organisations have developed search strategies to make it easier for people to find the evidence on freely-available information sources:

    • Public Health England
      The PHE Knowledge and Library Services Team has developed (and updated on 19/02/2020) a search strategy specifically for PubMed an openly accessible database of biomedical literature, produced by the U.S. National Library or Medicine:

(coronavirus*[Title] OR coronovirus*[Title] OR coronoravirus*[Title] OR coronaravirus*[Title] OR corono-virus*[Title] OR corona-virus*[Title] OR “Coronavirus”[Mesh] OR “Coronavirus Infections”[Mesh] OR “Wuhan coronavirus” [Supplementary Concept]) OR COVID-19[All Fields] OR CORVID-19[All Fields] OR “2019nCoV”[All Fields] OR “2019-nCoV”[All Fields]) OR WN-CoV[All Fields] OR nCoV[All Fields] OR “SARS-CoV-2”[All Fields] OR HCoV-19[All Fields] OR “novel coronavirus”[All Fields]) OR ((pneumonia[Title/Abstract] OR outbreak*[Title/Abstract] OR respiratory-illness*[Title/Abstract] OR respiratory- disease*[Title/Abstract] OR respiratory-symptom*[Title/Abstract] OR respiratory-infection*[Title/Abstract] OR food-market*[Title/Abstract] OR wild-life[Title/Abstract] OR sea-food[Title/Abstract]) AND (Wuhan[Title/Abstract] OR China[Title/Abstract] OR Chinese[Title/Abstract])).

For quicker results, a less systematic search is available here.

Filtered search results on the treatment of COVID-2, are available here.

    • National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
      NICE has developed a search strategy for OVID databases. This is the example from Medline:
      1 exp coronavirus/
      2 exp Coronavirus Infections/
      3 ((corona* or corono*) adj1 (virus* or viral* or virinae*)).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      4 (coronavirus* or coronovirus* or coronavirinae* or CoV or HCoV*).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      5 (“2019-nCoV” or 2019nCoV or nCoV2019 or “nCoV-2019” or “COVID-19” or COVID19 or “CORVID-19” or CORVID19 or “WN-CoV” or WNCoV or “HCoV-19” or HCoV19 or “2019 novel*” or Ncov or “n-cov” or “SARS-CoV-2” or “SARSCoV-2” or “SARSCoV2” or “SARS-CoV2” or SARSCov19 or “SARS-Cov19” or “SARSCov-19” or “SARS-Cov-19” or Ncovor or Ncorona* or Ncorono* or NcovWuhan* or NcovHubei* or NcovChina* or NcovChinese* or SARS2 or “SARS-2” or SARScoronavirus2 or “SARS-coronavirus-2” or “SARScoronavirus 2” or “SARS coronavirus2” or SARScoronovirus2 or “SARS-coronovirus-2” or “SARScoronovirus 2” or “SARS coronovirus2”).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      6 (((respiratory* adj2 (symptom* or disease* or illness* or condition*)) or “seafood market*” or “food market*” or pneumonia*) adj10 (Wuhan* or Hubei* or China* or Chinese* or Huanan*)).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      7 ((outbreak* or wildlife* or pandemic* or epidemic*) adj1 (Wuhan* or Hubei or China* or Chinese* or Huanan*)).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      8 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/
      9 (“middle east respiratory syndrome*” or “middle eastern respiratory syndrome*” or MERSCoV or “MERS-CoV” or MERS).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      10 (“severe acute respiratory syndrome*” or SARS).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      11 (“SARS-CoV-1” or “SARSCoV-1” or “SARSCoV1” or “SARS-CoV1” or SARSCoV or SARS-CoV or SARS1 or “SARS-1” or SARScoronavirus1 or “SARS-coronavirus-1” or “SARScoronavirus 1” or “SARS coronavirus1” or SARScoronovirus1 or “SARS-coronovirus-1” or “SARScoronovirus 1” or “SARS coronovirus1”).ti,ab,kw,kf.
      12 or/1-11
    • National Library of Medicine
      The National Library of Medicine has also developed a search strategy for PubMed, which is available here:

((wuhan[All Fields] AND (“coronavirus”[MeSH Terms] OR “coronavirus”[All Fields])) AND 2019/12[PDAT] : 2030[PDAT]) OR 2019-nCoV[All Fields] OR 2019nCoV[All Fields] OR corvid-19[All Fields] OR SARS-CoV-2[All Fields] OR HCoV-19[All Fields]

    • Disaster Lit ®
      This is a guide to disaster medicine and public health emergency literature and related information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center. Disaster Lit ® pulls in grey literature about the coronavirus, from sources including the World Health Organization, Centers for World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Public Health England.
    • Google Scholar
      Dr Wichor Bramer from Erasmus MC the Netherlands has created this search strategy, which can be cut and pasted in to Google Scholar:

2019nCoV|”2019 nCoV|CoV|coronavirus”|”2019 novel|new coronavirus|cov”|”wuhan coronavirus|cov|ncov|outbreak”|”wuhan*coronavirus|cov|ncov|outbreak”|”wuhan**coronavirus|cov|ncov|outbreak”|”coronavirus|cov|ncov*wuhan”

    • OVID expert searches
      OVID provides access to databases such as Medline and Embase. This page provides hints, advice and suggestions about how search strategies might be built.
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
    The U.S. National Library of Medicine produces the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus, a controlled and hierarchically-organized vocabulary, used for indexing, cataloguing, and searching of biomedical and health-related information. Here are some multi-language versions of MeSH:


Where available, please contact your local library service who will be able to help you find the best evidence. The Health Library and Information Services Directory is a comprehensive directory for health professionals, of health libraries and information services across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

PHE staff only
: If you need assistance with developing and running searches, please contact If you would like a specialist to undertake a search for you please log into our Knowledge and Library Service Enquiries Portal to submit a literature search request (PHE staff only).

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News sources

The following sites provide news about the coronavirus from a variety of sources:

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Information for the public

The following sites provide quality information about the coronavirus for the public, particularly travellers.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has compiled a list of multi-language information for the public produced by European ministries of public health.

Doctors of the World has produced information for patients in 26 languages in partnership with the Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice.

EPI-WIN – WHO Information Network for Epidemic

Provided by the World Health Organization, EPI-WIN seeks to give people access to timely accurate information from trusted sources, during a public health event, including COVID-19. This information will be tailored to different audiences and will answer pertinent questions as the event unfolds. It contains myth busters, advice, FAQs, and useful infographics.

Cancer: One Cancer Voice has produced advice on coronavirus for people with cancer.

Pregnancy: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has produced information for patients about the COVID-19 virus infection and pregnancy.

Hand hygiene: Public Health England has produced advice about how people can help stop the spread of viruses, like coronavirus (COVID-19), by practising good respiratory and hand hygiene.

Handwashing posters: The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has produced some handwashing posters in different languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Portugese, Urdu.

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Some online courses are freely available to improve knowledge about COVID-19:

  • Coronavirus: Learning for the health and care workforce (via e-Learning for Healthcare)
    The programme has been created by Health Education England and includes key materials to help the health and care workforce respond to Coronavirus.
    Courses in the Coronavirus programme currently include:
    1. Essential Guidance from the NHS and Government

    2. Infection Prevention and Control
    3. Public Health England – Personal Protective Equipment
    4. Critical Care Resources
  • COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus
    The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is offering a course called COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus. The course explains what is currently known about the disease outbreak, what the virus it is, how it is thought to spread, how to respond to it, and implications for the future. The course is free, lasts 3 weeks, and requires 4 hours of study per week.
  • COVID-19 Micro learning
    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has produced a series of micro-learning online sessions:

    1. What are non-pharmaceutical countermeasures in COVID-19 context?
    2. Which are the non-pharmaceutical countermeasures linked to Personal Protection?
    3. Which are the environmental non-pharmaceutical countermeasures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
    4. Which social distancing non-pharmaceutical countermeasures mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
    5. Which are the travel related countermeasures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
  • Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control
    This World Health Organization course provides a general introduction to COVID-19 and emerging respiratory viruses and is intended for public health professionals, incident managers and personnel working for the United Nations, international organizations and NGOs.
  • FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness training materials
    Dr. Richard Schwartz, MD, FACEP, gives a brief overview of the precautions and infection control considerations for Coronaviruses to include Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID-19). This brief, three-part series provides an overview of coronaviruses, barrier precautions and controls for the viruses, and transportation and movement of patients who have or are suspected of having the virus.
  • Irish Global Health Network
    Resources for health professionals and global health workers, this page brings together relevant published data from a global health perspective on the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Science Matters: Let’s talk about COVID19
    Imperial College London has launched a free online course explaining the science behind the response to the novel coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak. It is free to participate, and takes approximately 19 hours to complete.
  • Webinar: Librarians respond to the coronavirus and other pandemics
    Date and Time: Thursday, March 26th, 4:00 pm Eastern (one hour)
    Registration: No registration is required, just make sure you’re a member of Library 2.0 (free). You will need to be logged into Library 2.0 to participate in the webinar or watch the recording afterwards.
    Online: The event will be held in Zoom and simulcast/overflow on YouTube. Instructions will be on this page the day of the broadcast. To test your system for Zoom you can sign up for a free account at
    Recording: A recording of the event will be posted here within a day of the event.
    Description: Three librarians active in state, regional, and national initiatives, will discuss roles librarians in all types of settings can take on during public health emergencies such as the current coronavirus outbreak.

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Additional reading

This is a collection of further reading:

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Sharing research

Digital Science – Dimensions is updated once every 24 hours, so the latest research can be viewed alongside existing information. Research outputs include datasets and clinical trials. The aim is to allow access to the latest research information as quickly as possible.

Wellcome have brought together a list of signatories who have agreed to freely share research on the topic.

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Legal, policy and practical guidance

The Network for Public Health Law has produced a primer outlining legal, policy and practical guidance to understand the Novel Coronavirus and its related public health emergency response.

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Other collections of COVID-19 resources

These are links to other collections of COVID-19 resources, developed by librarians:

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Last updated: 02/04/2020

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