Finding the evidence: Coronavirus

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

This page is produced by Public Health England as a resource for professionals working in public health, librarians and information professionals.

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 libraries@phe.gov.uk for assistance. Non-PHE staff are advised to contact their local health librarian for support if necessary.

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of the items included, and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

To navigate this page, click on the subject heading boxes to view the content within. Text that is underlined and blue is a hyperlink to a website or resource.

Last updated: 23/05/2020

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):

Daily Status Updates

  • Daily updates about the status of COVID-19 in the UK published by Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

COVID-19 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 the latest research articles and news from government departments, please contact libraries@phe.gov.uk.

PHE International Epidemiology Daily Evidence Digest

The COVID-19 Response Team produces a daily evidence digest, which contains 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 Please note that preprints are preliminary reports of work that have NOT been peer-reviewed.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 9 themes (diagnostics, serology and immunology, genomics, epidemiology and clinical, infection control, treatment, social sciences, miscellaneous, and modelling). Below are links to the latest issues:

Public Health England

  • PHE has produced a collection of guidance for health professionals and other organisations.

NHS

  • Coronavirus guidance for clinicians and NHS managers. Contains information for Primary care, Secondary care and Community health, social care, mental health trusts and ambulance services.

Health Education England

  • Up-to-date guidance and information from HEE, NHS England and NHS Improvement as well as the government to help health professionals, HEE staff and the public respond to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Institute of Health Visiting

Local Government Association

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

  • RCOG has published guidance for healthcare professionals on coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in pregnancy, published by the RCOG, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.

Centre for Evidence-Based Dermatology

  • This is a regularly updated collection of guidelines, web resources and journal articles on coronavirus relevant to skin diseases and dermatology.

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

  • SAGE provides scientific and technical advice to support government decision-makers during emergencies.

These resources have been produced by international and UK based organisations to support the management of COVID-19:

World Health Organization

  • Provides information regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
  • Includes:
    • Country and Technical Guidance. Covers 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.
    • Public advice

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.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • CDC is one of the major operating components of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Their COVID-19 Dashboard includes United States orientated public advice, guidance and data related to COVID-19.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

European Commission - action and response

  • Contains information on the European Commission's efforts to coordinate a common European response  to the coronavirus outbreak

International Association of National Public Health Institutes

  • A list of publicly available resources, links and documents related to the COVID-19 response, as well as a list of publicly available web pages and documents detailing responses of their member organisations.

International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)

  • Information about the classification (taxonomy) of the new virus.

Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) Novel Coronavirus Resources

  • This page by ASPR (Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) highlights resources identified or developed to address current response and recovery operations to novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). 

FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness

  • News and information about emergency preparedness, protection, and response training.

Medbox

  • The MEDBOX team has compiled a collection of the most important guidelines and resources, situation reports, communication tools, laboratory guidance, etc.

Elsevier Novel Coronavirus Information Center

  • Here you will find curated information for the research and health community on SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus) and COVID-19 (the disease). This includes information published in Mandarin Chinese, from sources including the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis

  • These pages provide all output from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, including publicly published online reports, planning tools, scientific resources, publications and video updates. 

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.

Publisher Collections

  • Many major publishers of medical journals have made coronavirus-related content freely available.
  • Links to these, and further information can be found in this document.

Books

PHE Knowledge and Library Services have compiled a coronavirus book collection, for PHE staff. If PHE staff would like to make a book purchase suggestion you may do so by emailing libraries@phe.gov.uk.

Evidence Collections

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

Cochrane Special Collections

  • This page highlights content from the Cochrane Library relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

  • NICE has started producing rapid guidelines and evidence reviews and these are listed on this page.

Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service

  • The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) is producing evidence syntheses to answer clinical questions about COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be updated regularly.

Evidence Aid

  • Evidence Aid specialises in collating and summarising the best available evidence about how to effectively prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies. They are working with global partners and a team of information specialists to identify systematic reviews that might be relevant to interventions for COVID-19, interventions that might help health and social care services to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 response on other health conditions and healthcare interventions, and the impact of COVID-19 on non-health outcomes (e.g. jobs and the economy). The summaries are available in English, with links to translations in other languages.

The Strategy Unit

  • Evidence summaries and analysis produced by five collaborating organisations (the Health Foundation; King’s Fund; Nuffield Trust; and two specialist NHS analytical teams, Imperial College Health Partners and the Strategy Unit.)

EPPI-Centre: a living systematic map of the evidence

  • An up-to-date map of the current evidence partitioned into broad domains for easy exploration.

Ireland National Health Library and Knowledge Service (NHL&KS)

  • Evidence summaries, rapid reviews and clinical guidance information produced by the NHL&KS.

If you need assistance with developing and running searches, PHE staff can contact libraries@phe.gov.uk. 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

  • PHE Knowledge and Library Services Team has developed (and updated on 06/04/2020) 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[Title] OR CORVID-19[Title] OR “2019nCoV”[Title] OR “2019-nCoV”[Title] OR WN-CoV[Title] OR nCoV[Title] OR “SARS-CoV-2”[Title] OR HCoV-19[Title] OR “novel coronavirus”[Title] 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 and updated a search strategy for OVID Medline database. This is available here.

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 into 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.

GIDEON (Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Online Network)

  • Using the Ovid medical research platform, Wolters Kluwer developed two Expert Searches focused on Wuhan coronavirus. The Gideon Database has been enabled for all NHS Athens accounts nationally until the end of April. (Please note that the link to GIDEON is in the menu bar at the top, not in the list of Ovid products). A tutorial is available here.

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:

Live Literature Searches

To reduce duplication of effort and maintain consistency in searching, librarians are sharing their search strategies, so that they can be re-used and adapted by other searchers:

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.

Clinical Trials

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Innovation Observatory

  • Daily updates are provided 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.

EU Clinical Trials Register

  • The European Union Clinical Trials Register allows you to search for protocol and results information on:
    • Interventional clinical trials that are conducted in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA);
    • Clinical trials conducted outside the EU / EEA that are linked to European paediatric-medicine development.

Cochrane COVID-19 Trials Register

Cytel COVID-19 Clinical Trial Tracker

  • The dashboard uses data from WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, the European Clinical Trials Registry, clinicaltrials.gov, the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, the German Clinical Trials registry, the Japan Primary Registries Network, the Iranian Clinical Trial Registry, and the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

Research Projects

The UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) and GLoPID-R

  • A live database tracking newly-funded research projects, across the world, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital Science – Dimensions

  • 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.

  • Trusted sources from Health Education England - the NHS Library and Knowledge Services team at Health Education England has collated information and resources on Covid-19 from trusted sources which librarians, health and care staff, teachers, voluntary organisations can be confident to share with patients, clients and families. It includes information tailored for children and young people, older people, people who prefer information in British Sign Language (BSL) or Makaton and other accessible formats.

Other sources of consumer health information

  • 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.
  • Coronavirus: the science explained - this site lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control. This website will be regularly updated with the latest scientific information behind the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Doctors of the World - in partnership with with the Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice, this organisation has published information for patients in 48 languages.
  • 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.

Information about specific conditions

Cancer

Pregnancy

Hand hygiene

  • The NHS has an information page on how to wash your hands.
  • The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has produced some handwashing posters in different languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Portugese, Urdu.

The following organisations provide epidemiological information:

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

  • This resource contains epidemiology information alongside news and other information.

China Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Webpage tracking the epidemic in China.

HealthMap

  • Delivers real-time intelligence on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases. The system monitors, organizes, integrates, filters, visualizes and disseminates online information about emerging diseases in nine languages

Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering

  • An Interactive worldwide map of the COVID-19 epidemic, showing global numbers of cases and deaths.

The New Humanitarian

  • Website tracking the COVID-19 epidemic spread.

ProMED International Society for Infectious Diseases

  • Publicly-available system conducting global reporting of infectious diseases outbreaks.

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.

Finding the Evidence Training

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

PHE Knowledge and Library Services

  • Knowledge and Library Services (KLS) provide a range of information skills training, which can be delivered in a group or one-to-one setting, face-to-face or via Skype. For further information please see here.

The following organisations provide fact checking on a variety of topics, including COVID-19:

Full Fact

  • A UK independent fact checking charity.

Reality Check

  • Fact checking by the BBC.

FactCheck

  • Fact checking by the Channel 4 News service.

FactCheckNI

  • Northern Irish, independent non-profit fact checking organisation.

FactCheck.org

  • A US-based fact checking project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

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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