Several European research communities and infrastructures are currently joining forces through highly complementary activities to help researchers in addressing the current outbreak and finding a treatment for the novel coronavirus. This is done by boosting the availability, discoverability and management of the research data and outputs in line with the Open Science principles and providing supplementary cloud services.

Structure of a DNA molecule

Open access

The open sharing of data is one principle of Open Science. It can greatly accelerate research and discovery, allowing for an effective response to the coronavirus emergency. 

On Monday 20 April 2020, the European Commission together with several partners launched the European COVID-19 Data Platform enabling the rapid collection and sharing of available research data. The new platform aims at providing an open and trusted European and global environment where researchers can store and share datasets, such as DNA sequences, protein structures, data from pre-clinical research and clinical trials, as well as epidemiological data.

The European infrastructure OpenAIRE is actively supporting the platform and is also facilitating the rapid and open sharing of research outputs through the Zenodo COVID-19 Community. This community, jointly created by OpenAIRE and CERN, is collecting all research results that could be relevant for the scientific community worldwide working on the coronavirus disease.

In addition, OpenAIRE is currently developing the COVID-19 Gateway, a platform to aggregate COVID-19 records (publications, data, softwares and other research outcomes), link them together and provide a single access point for their discovery and navigation. The service is expected to go live in the coming days.

Furthermore, to support this global process, the Research Data Alliance (RDA) launched a RDA COVID-19 Working Group to define guidelines and best practices on data sharing under the present COVID-19 circumstances. On Friday 24 April 2020, the first release of the RDA COVID-19 recommendations and guidelines have been published.

Cloud services

Many e-Infrastructures and digital services are trying to make the most of the available data.  

This is the case of the platform known as HADDOCK (High Ambiguity Driven protein-protein DOCKing), developed at Utrecht University and operated as a thematic service under the EU-funded EOSC-Hub project. HADDOCK is a biology simulation tool that supports complex simulations as the model interaction between the virus proteins and human one, or the docking (the study of how two or more molecular structures match perfectly) of small molecules to targets such as the COVID-19 protease.

The platform, now integrated in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a fundamental enabler of Open Science, distinguishes itself from other docking methods in that it deals with a large class of modelling problems. The portal is heavily used with >16000 registered users from >110 countries.

Using the EOSC High Throughput Computing (HTC) resources, the HADDOCK team was able to carry out in just three days a screening of ~2000 accepted drugs against the Sars-Cov2 protease toward drug repurposing. The initial results have revealed interesting compounds among those ranked at the top, some of which were already in clinical trials, supporting the validity of the screening methodology.

The EU-funded project DEEP-Hybrid Data Cloud is also involved on different fronts in the fight against coronavirus. Thanks to its capacity to process huge amounts of data, develop and share deep learning applications in a quick and easy way, the project supports genetic studies trying to highlight genetic traits explaining severe forms of COVID-19. The project is also developing a new module trained to classify chest x-ray images to improve the patients triage and management. Moreover, DEEP-Hybrid Data Cloud is monitoring the strict confinement measures put in place in European countries to fight the COVID-19 to elaborate on different scenarios towards the end of the confinement measures

Finally, the EU-funded project, OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments), recently launched a distribution of vouchers for early career researchers carrying out research on COVID19 and related topics. The OCRE COVID19 research vouchers aim at offering access to cloud services, such as storage and computing, to support all COVID19 research sectors, including medicine, natural sciences, computer science, social sciences and humanities.