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Coronavirus: Disease Control

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 164472, tabled on 8 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 1 March 2021 to Question 157103 on Coronavirus: Disease Control, whether the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was consulted on the development of the QCovid risk assessment algorithm; and whether any other ethical guidelines specifically for algorithmic design were considered.

Answered on

23 March 2021

Oxford University consulted their Clinical Trials and Research Governance Office on the development of QCovid. Oxford University did not directly consult the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, but applied many of their principles including fairness, transparency and engagement. They used established research techniques carefully applied by the expert researchers to minimise bias in the development of the model.

These included a priori specification and publication of a scientifically reviewed protocol, a thorough review of literature and broad clinical and patient engagement to ensure relevant factors were taken into account, including protected characteristics. The results were then peer reviewed and published in the British Medical Journal, to assure the overall approach and ensure full transparency, including setting out the limitations of the data and identification of circumstances where QCovid should not be used.