University of Oxford and Oracle partner in identification of COVID-19 variants

Oracle has recently announced undoubtedly lucrative partnerships with Honda Red Bull Racing and The Premier League. But taking into account where the world finds itself right now, with the emergence of COVID-19 variants threatening to slow the global recovery, Oracle is also taking great strides in the fight against COVID-19.

Oracle is a key sponsor of the ERP Today Awards & Fundraiser, an event that is giving back to the community by donating all event proceeds to NHS Charities Together. Oracle yesterday announced a partnership with University of Oxford in creating the Global Pathogen Analysis System (GPAS), powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). GPAS combines Oxford’s Scalable Pathogen Pipeline Platform (SP3) with the power of OCI. This initiative builds on the work of a Wellcome Trust-funded consortium including Public Health Wales, the University of Cardiff, and Public Health England.

First used in research on Tuberculosis, SP3 has been enhanced with the extensive machine learning capabilities in the Oracle Cloud, collaborating scientists, researchers, and governments worldwide can process, analyse, visualise, and act on a wide collection of COVID-19 pathogen data for the first time. This includes identifying variants of interest and their potential impact on vaccine and treatment effectiveness. For example, analytics dashboards in the system will show which specific strains are spreading more quickly than others and whether genetic features contribute to increased transmissibility and vaccine escape. Already, Oxford has processed half the world’s SARS-CoV-2 sequences, more than 500,000 in total.

This philanthropic partnership will enable global genomic sequencing and examination through a specialist platform developed on OCI to help mitigate the impact of potentially dangerous COVID-19 variants. The platform will be made available for free for researchers and non-profits to use worldwide over a multi-year period. 

Dr. Isabel Oliver, Director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England: “This donation is a welcome boost to the ability to share genomic sequencing data with colleagues all across the world. Not only are strong genomic examination and widely-available data crucial to our collective efforts to combat the current pandemic, but they will have ongoing benefits to the response to other pathogens in the future. This could potentially have a far-reaching positive impact on international public health and global health security. As new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge around the world, it requires a cooperative global effort to respond effectively. Partnerships like this one are absolutely vital to ensuring that we can mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s population, and that we can continue to strengthen our ability to confront emerging threats in the years to come.”

Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said: “There is a critical need for global cooperation on genomic sequencing and examination of COVID-19 and other pathogens. The enhanced SP3 system will establish a global standard for pathogen data gathering and analysis, thus enabling medical researchers to better understand the COVID-19 virus and other microbial threats to public health.”