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Now, more than ever, being able to use clinical data more easily in the care sector would be key to defeating COVID-19. The pandemic keeps adding burden in the European hospitals where clinicians and hospital staff could make better-informed decisions and provide more efficient care, if they had structured and homogeneous data at their disposal for their daily practice. What is the COVID-X Programme doing to improve this situation? The COVID-X Sandbox is a key weapon in the battle against COVID-19.

COVID-X programme bridges the gap between tech companies and healthcare providers by boosting data-driven solutions with the power to overcome clinical challenges in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-X selects and offers direct funding to 30+  competitive and market oriented European SMEs and Start-Ups, the COVID-X Game Changers,  accessing ethical, technical and business mentoring with the goal to validate their solutions with real clinical data, boosted by COVID-X sandbox core data-driven services, and finally to boost their quick market uptake. 

The technology providers selected in COVID-X Programme integrate their solutions with the COVID-X Sandbox that allows supporting software integration, testing and deployment activities.  The single solutions will be validated at one of the three COVID-X project pilot sites located in Italy, Spain and Sweden, and each site is focused on specific clinical challenges. The team solutions, involving an external dedicated clinical partner, pilot the solutions with their own clinical data integrated, managed and interoperably accessed by the COVID-X Sandbox. 

The 1st release of the COVID-X Sandbox, launched in April 2021, includes core data-driven services comprising of data integration services of closed historical health data sets, as well as streaming data and open data sets, real-time data ingestion services, data annotation, indexing, cataloging and storing services, security services, data access/filtering/search/querying and data visualization services, encompassing, in addition, an API Gateway to seamlessly provide access to these services to Third-party solution providers, as illustrated in the following figure. By the end of July 2021, the end date of Sprint 1 of COVID-X Acceleration Programme for OC#1 Game Changers, Single and Team solutions have been successfully integrated, while data from joined Clinical partners have been successfully integrated into the COVID-X Sandbox, providing a uniformly annotated and accessed distributed COVID-19 focused health data space.

A unified semantic health data model, capitalizing on existing relevant standards (namely, DCAT, HL7, HL7 FHIR, ICD-11, etc.), as well as relevant existing ontologies has been defined to allow such description and annotation in a common unified manner of the diverse ingested data into the sandbox and thus allow further their interoperable access, query and retrieval.

The COVID-X Sandbox, to support software integration, testing and deployment activities, further provides a CI/CD stack and relevant tools (Gitlab code repository, Jenkins, Docker registry, etc.). These are being used by COVID-X Game Changers to integrate their solutions with the COVID-X Sandbox services, test and deploy the integrated system to the selected pilot site.

The development workflow in the CI/CD environment has been set up and is used as follows: 

The COVID-X team has implemented a new endpoint for programming language clients. More single and team solutions will join through the 2nd Open Call from October 2021 until the end of the project bringing in more opportunities for integrating both more vital Clinical data on COVID-19, as well as more innovative solutions to address COVID-19.