The Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has funds the Transformational Bioinformatics group to develop a cloud-based platform for the secure and robust sharing and analysis of the largest Indian COVID-19 genomic viral dataset.

The emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Asian-Pacific region has highlighted the need for collaboration across countries and regions. In particular, it has demonstrated the importance of integrated platforms to share and analyse international data. Such platforms help identify locally emerging strains of the COVID-19 virus and inform data-driven public health decisions within the country and across the region. This has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a key area of investment.

The Australian Academy of Science has hence created the Regional Collaborations Programme COVID-19 Digital Grant. Dr. Wilson, team-lead in the Transformational Bioinformatics Group, is amongst the 26 recipients. He is funded to develop a modern, economical, and interoperable data management platform that can link independent partner organization into a federated analytics platform. He will be using cloud-native technologies to provide a scalable and secure infrastructure that underpins the research and decision-making. This capability will prepare for future demands and enables a rapid innovation cycles that can stay on-top-of the pandemic, by rolling out locally-optimized solution across the partner organization platform.

This work is in collaboration with the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, India, where Prof. Scaria has built a detailed dataset of COVID-19 genetic variations. Providing this unique dataset with the analytics capability in the CSIRO platform will help track the spread and evolution of the virus across India.

The data will be used to generate insights and improve existing IT infrastructure. Creating infrastructure-as-code patters allows labs to register their cloud-based data assets and analyse them in a standardized way within their own accounts. This maintains privacy and ownership while enabling these distributed data assets to contribute to nation-wide insights, such as tracing. Migrating existing workflows to cloud-native infrastructure will provide labs a cost-effective, time-saving and scalable method to run their analysis.

Primarily aimed at improving data management and analytics in India, this project will also support Australia and the Asia-Pacific region by having visibility into COVID-19 genomic activity of one of the most densely populated countries in the region. It showcases Australian expertise to India’s digital health initiative to establish lasting partnerships with this rapidly growing market.