Oxford Uni and Oracle join forces on COVID analysis system

An illustration of the COVID virus and gene sequencing
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Oxford University and Oracle have collaborated on a Global Pathogen Analysis System to help governments identify and act on the spread of new COVID variants.

The system combines Oxford University's Scalable Pathogen Pipeline Platform, which was first used for tuberculosis, to with the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to analyse and compare sequence data for COVID. The university has already processed half of the world's COVID sequences, which is more than 500,000 in total.

The Pathogen Pipeline is available worldwide, 24-hours a day in the Oracle Cloud and its processing capability has been enhanced with extensive new development work from Oracle that enables high performance and security.

The system will use Oracle's machine learning services to deliver comprehensive results within minutes of submission before sharing its findings with countries around the world in a secure environment. This includes identifying variants of interest and their potential impact on vaccine and treatment effectiveness. There will be an analytics dashboard to show which specific strains spread more quickly and whether certain genetic features contribute to its increased transmissibility and vaccine tolerance.

"This powerful new tool will enable public health scientists in research establishments, public health agencies, healthcare services, and diagnostic companies around the world to help further understanding of infectious diseases, starting with the coronavirus," said Derrick Crook, professor of microbiology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

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"The Global Pathogen Analysis System will help to establish a global common standard for assembling and analysing this new virus, as well as other microbial threats to public health. This adds a new dimension in our ability to process pathogen data. We are excited to partner with Oracle to further our research using this cutting-edge technology platform."

The platform will be free for researchers and non-profits to use worldwide and the next steps will be extending the service to more pathogens beyond the COVID pandemic to enable governments to act on future outbreaks quickly.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.