RGDB decisions

The RDGB is built on a foundation of coordination and cooperation, and is committed to working transparently.

Please see below a summary of research activity granted final approval to access the COVID-19 Data Research Hub.

Approved applications

Application reference: RDGB-2021-001

Examination of the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, and social disadvantage in Ireland

Prof Seamus McGuinness, The Economic and Social Research Institute

Application lay summary

It has been well documented internationally that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been disproportionately felt by low-income households, both from health and economic perspectives. Many low paid workers are in essential occupations, such as retail and medical auxiliary services, and have a higher exposure to the virus.  Low-income households are also more likely to be of higher density, which makes social distancing problematic leading to a greater spread of the virus. Sectors such as accommodation and food, which contains a high proportion of minimum wage employees, were forced to furlough or close, which again disproportionately impacts low-income households.  In this study, we propose to explore the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and spatial variations in social deprivation.



Application Reference RDGB-2021-002

SARS-CoV-2 clusters and superspreading events in workplaces in Ireland: a retrospective analysis

Dr Carla Perrotta, University College Dublin

Application Lay Summary 

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 220,000 people in Ireland, and killed more than 4,000, in one year. It has become clear that infected individuals do not transmit COVID-19 equally, and relatively few infectious individuals (~10%) are responsible for most (~80%) of local transmission. Environmental factors likely contribute to COVID-19 clusters, or ‘superspreading’ events. Cramped and/or crowded indoor settings, with poor ventilation, and long contact exposures create high-risk environments for COVID-19 clusters and associated superspreading events. Familiar workplaces such as meat-processing plants and retail outlets possess such environmental features that facilitate explosive COVID-19 clusters. Consequently, this retrospective, longitudinal study aims to (i) identify the characteristics of workplace settings that experience COVID-19 clusters, and (ii) investigate the relationship between COVID-19 clusters in workplace settings and community transmission/epidemic trajectory. Study findings will inform targeted control efforts that can mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and future infectious disease clusters in workplace settings.


Application Reference RDGB-2021-003

COVID-19 in Ireland: general practice’s contribution to testing and vaccination

Dr Michael O’Callaghan, Irish College of General Practitioners

Application Lay Summary

This project aims to determine the number of GP electronic referrals (‘eReferrals’) for COVID-19 PCR testing and the proportion of COVID-19 vaccines delivered in Irish general practice. General practice in Ireland plays an important role in screening services and is often the first point of contact with the health service for those with new, potentially serious complaints. Time spent on eReferrals and the vaccination campaign, while enthusiastically embraced by the profession, means that other areas of care may have been impacted by reduced availability of GPs and practice nurses. Accurately describing general practice’s contribution to the national COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts will allow us to estimate how much time GPs and practice staff dedicated to these activities. This may help frame what future involvement of general practice, in this and other health crises, might potentially involve.


Application Reference: RDGB-2021-005

UPCOM (Understanding and Preventing Covid-19 Outbreaks in Meat Processing Plants-Prepared for the Future)

Dr Andrew McCarren, Dublin City University

Application Lay Summary

The North Dublin COVID-19 Cohort [ANTICIPATE] Study is a HRB funded project which is being conducted by the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin (MMUH) and University College Dublin (UCD). The project aims to inform national and international COVID-19 clinical practice / policy by enhancing knowledge regarding the prevalence, nature, and management of patients experiencing acute and post-COVID-19 illness. The project is based at the MMUH and across local general practices in a socioeconomically disadvantaged area in North Dublin. It has been suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on socioeconomically disadvantaged populations such as those in the MMUH area. However, the extent to which this may be the case is unclear, as the availability of relevant and high-quality data is lacking. This study will address this issue by conducting a comparative analysis of COVID-19 patients attending the MMUH and those from the wider North Dublin population.


Application Reference RDGB-2021-006

Quantifying the Effects of Public Health Interventions in Ireland

Dr Alberto Alvarez-Iglesias, University of Galway

Application Lay Summary

One of the most powerful ways to slow the COVID-19 pandemic is to limit the spread of the virus between people. In practice, this can mean communities going into ‘lockdown’, individuals keeping physically distant from each other and people wearing masks when in shops and on public transport. This study has developed software to help forecast the outcome of applying such public health measures in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic. The interactive web-based application will help decision makers to assess the likely impact of a public health measure on how quickly the virus spreads, the costs and effects on the health system and the likely outcome for people in Ireland. The app will also map out potential alternative interventions and assess their likely outcomes for comparison. To make accurate predictions for Ireland, we need information on how long Irish covid patients spent at different stages of the infection, such as how long they spent in hospital and in ICU.  This information is only available in the COVID-19 Data Research Hub.  Access to this information will enable predictions based on the most accurate and representative data on COVID-19 patients in Ireland.


Application Reference RDGB-2022-007

Study of the impact of lifestyle factors on COVID-19 outcomes

Prof Patricia Fitzpatrick, University College Dublin

Application Lay Summary

This is a study that will be carried out over a period of 6 months in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sport Science. A pseudonymised secondary dataset will be utilised, which is available from the CSO on behalf of the HSE. Conditions that raise the chances of having an illness are known as risk factors. Risk factors are either modifiable (meaning they can be changed by the individual person) or non-modifiable (meaning they cannot be changed). The objective of the study is to assess the impact of modifiable risk factors including weight, BMI and smoking status, taking into account the effect of  age, gender, ethnicity and co-morbidities including diabetes, hypertension, cancer and hypertension, on outcomes of COVID-19. The available pseudonymised dataset includes follow up detail by COVID-19 case on hospitalisation and ICU admission with associated data. The study will use the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) for analysis.