Finding the evidence: Coronavirus

UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services (KLS) has produced this page to help those working on the current coronavirus outbreak, to identify and access emerging evidence as it is published.

Most of the resources are freely accessible but some may ask for an OpenAthens sign-in. It is therefore important that your OpenAthens details are up-to-date. UKHSA staff unable to access an article or resource can email for assistance. Non-UKHSA staff are advised to contact their local health librarian for support if necessary.

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of the items included, and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Please help us improve this page further by taking this brief survey that asks you to share your thoughts about this page. Your feedback helps us tailor the content of this page to your needs.

To navigate this page, click on the subject heading boxes to view the content within. Text that is underlined and blue is a hyperlink to a website or resource.

There are several ways to keep up to date with the latest advice, guidance, and research about COVID-19:

        1. Official daily government COVID-19 update
        2. UKHSA COVID-19 Rapid Reviews
        3. UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services COVID-19 Alert
        4. UKHSA COVID-19 Literature Digest - discontinued (all previous issues still available here)
        5. UKHSA Behavioural Science Reference Cell weekly literature report
        6. UKHSA Knowledge and Library Service Care Homes evidence digest
        7. Retraction Watch

1. Official daily government COVID-19 update

Daily updates about the status of COVID-19 in the UK published by the United Kingdom Health Security Agency and the Department of Health and Social Care. This is the official UK government website for data and insights on coronavirus (COVID-19).

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency produces regular updates about SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England.

2. UKHSA COVID-19 Rapid Reviews

The UKHSA COVID-19 Evidence team produces rapid reviews and evidence summaries on COVID-19-related topics, details of which are available on this page, along with contact details for the team.

3. COVID-19 Alert - UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services

The UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services produce a daily alert containing links to research and news on the latest coronavirus outbreak. If you would like to receive this email alert, which contains the latest research articles and news from government departments, please contact

4. UKHSA COVID-19 Literature Digest

The COVID-19 Literature Digest was published between February 2020 and March 2022, in order to support the UKHSA’s pandemic response. Initially, the Digest was essential to track the new and emerging evidence on COVID-19, but the evidence base has increased substantially over this 2 year period and at the peak of the outbreak more than 2000 research articles were screened every week. As the evidence on COVID-19 reached a more steady state, the decision was taken to discontinue the COVID-19 Literature Digest.

Please note that preprints were included in the Digest. These are preliminary reports of work that have NOT been peer-reviewed. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behaviour and should NOT be reported in news media as established information. The evidence was organised into 9 themes (serology and immunology, vaccine development, diagnostics, genomics, epidemiology and clinical, transmission, infection control, treatment, and modelling). All the back issues are available on our Current Awareness Updates: Archive.

5. UKHSA Behavioural Science and Insights Unit Literature Report

The UKHSA Behavioural Science and Insights Unit produced a weekly literature report capturing a range of COVID-19-related work in the field of behavioural science. All the back issues are available on our Current Awareness Updates: Archive, but you can also browse their Literature Report Database.

6. UKHSA Knowledge and Library Service Care Homes Evidence Digest

This weekly digest contains a selection of evidence published in the preceding 7 days, in relation to the prevention and control of COVID-19 in home care/care home settings. A number of Covid-19 review repositories, an existing UKHSA Covid-19 evidence digest, Ovid Medline and Embase, Social Care Online, medRxiv (pre-print server) and various websites are searched. Below are links to all the issues:

Please note: after the issue on Friday 24th March 2022, the Care Homes Digest will change from a weekly digest to monthly, while Knowledge & Library Services reviews a possible change in the Digest's scope.

31 Mar 2022  29 Apr 2022  24 Mar 2022  18 Mar 2022 11 Mar 2022
 04 Mar 2022  25 Feb 2022  18 Feb 2022  11 Feb 2022 04 Feb 2022
 28 Jan 2022 21 Jan 2022  14 Jan 2022  07 Jan 2022  31 Dec 2021
 24 Dec 2021 17 Dec 2021 10 Dec 2021 03 Dec 2021  26 Nov 2021
 19th Nov 2021 12 Nov 2021 05 Nov 2021 No issue  22 Oct 2021
15 Oct 2021 08 Oct 2021 01 Oct 2021 24 Sep 2021 17 Sep 2021
10 Sep 2021 03 Sep 2021 27 Aug 2021 20 Aug 2021 No issue 
06 Aug 2021 30 Jul 2021 23 Jul 2021 16 Jul 2021 09 Jul 2021
02 Jul 2021 25 Jun 2021 18 Jun 2021 11 Jun 2021 04 Jun 2021
28 May 2021 21 May 2021 14 May 2021  07 May 2021 30 Apr 2021
23 Apr 2021 16 Apr 2021  09 April 2021  01 Apr 2021 26 Mar 2021
19 Mar 2021 12 Mar 2021 05 Mar 2021 25 Feb 2021 19 Feb 2021
11 Feb 2021 04 Feb 2021 28 Jan 2021 21 Jan 2021 14 Jan 2021
07 Jan 2021 No issue  24 Dec 2020 17 Dec 2020 10 Dec 2020
03 Dec 2020 26 Nov 2020 19 Nov 2020 12 Nov 2020 05 Nov 2020
29 Oct 2020 22 Oct 2020 15 Oct 2020 08 Oct 2020 01 Oct 2020
24 Sep 2020 17 Sep 2020 10 Sep 2020 03 Sep 2020 27 Aug 2020
20 Aug 2020 13 Aug 2020 06 Aug 2020 30 Jul 2020 23 Jul 2020
16 Jul 2020 09 Jul 2020 02 Jul 2020 25 Jun 2020 19 Jun 2020

7. Retraction Watch

This site tracks retractions of research papers about COVID-19, and is updated as needed.

This section contains real-world data and guidance about the COVID-19 vaccines, information on vaccines in development, links to the published study results relating to the COVID-19 vaccine trials, information in other languages, and guidance about vaccine hesitancy.

Real world data

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is monitoring the effectiveness of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in the real world as set out in the COVID-19 vaccine surveillance strategy and has published reports on the impact of the COVID-19 vaccines on:

  • symptomatic disease
  • hospitalisation
  • death
  • infection (symptomatic or asymptomatic)


PHE monitoring of the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination: Data on the real-world efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines

Public Health England, 22nd February 2021

COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a

Updated 11 December 2020 by Public Health England, this chapter includes:

  • information on the COVID-19 vaccines
  • the dosage and schedule for the UK
  • recommendations for the use of the vaccine.

This is provisional guidance subject to MHRA approval of each vaccine.

National protocol for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant])

This protocol was published on 10 January 2021, by Public Health England. It is for the administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant]) to individuals in accordance with the national COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Vaccine effectiveness

These papers report on the effectiveness of vaccines, particularly with regards to the variants:

PREPRINT: Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of concern

Andrews N, et al.

UK Health Security Agency

December 2021

What is the efficacy and effectiveness of available COVID-19 vaccines for variants of concern?

COVID-19 Living Evidence Synthesis #6

COVID-19 Evidence Network, McMaster University

December 2021

Vaccines in development

The National Institute for Health Research provides information about ongoing coronavirus vaccine research.

Published vaccine trial results

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of vaccine research, but a collection of the published trial results. Please contact if you think a vital paper is missing.

BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine)

Effectiveness of BNT162b2 mRNA Vaccine Against Infection and COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage in Healthcare Workers in England, Multicentre Prospective Cohort Study (the SIREN Study)

The SIREN Study Group

Preprints with the Lancet, 22nd February 2021

Safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 vaccine

Polack FP, Thomas SJ, Kitchin N, Absalon J, Gurtman A, Lockhart S, Perez JL, Perez Marc G, Moreira ED, Zerbini C, Bailey R, Swanson KA

The New England Journal of Medicine, 2020, December 10

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting

FDA Briefing Document: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

US Food and Drug Administration

December 10, 2020

ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) (Oxford vaccine)

Interim recommendations for use of the AZD1222 (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant]) vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca: Interim results

World Health Organization, 10 February 2021

Safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) against SARS-CoV-2: an interim analysis of four randomised controlled trials in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK

Voysey M, Costa Clemens SA, Madhi SA, Weckx LY, Folegatti PM, Aley PK, et al.

The Lancet, 2020, December 08

mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna vaccine)

Efficacy and safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

Baden LR, El Sahly HM, Essink B, Kotloff K, Frey S, Novak R, et al.

New England Journal of Medicine, 2020, December 30

Safety and immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine in older adults

Anderson EJ, Rouphael NG, Widge AT, Jackson LA, Roberts PC, Makhene M, et al.

New England Journal of Medicine, 2020, December 17

An mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 — preliminary report

Jackson LA, Anderson EJ, Rouphael NG, Roberts PC, Makhene M, Coler RN, et al.

New England Journal of Medicine, 2020, November

Ad26.COV2.S vaccine (Johnson & Johnson)

Interim results of a phase 1–2a trial of Ad26.COV2.S Covid-19 vaccine

Sadoff J, Le Gars M, Shukarev G, Heerwegh D, Truyers C, et al.

New England Journal of Medicine, 2021, January 13

Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V)

Safety and efficacy of an rAd26 and rAd5 vector-based heterologous prime-boost COVID-19 vaccine: an interim analysis of a randomised controlled phase 3 trial in Russia

Logunov DY, Dolzhikova IV, Shcheblyakov DV, Tukhvatulin AI, Zubkova, OV, et al.

Lancet, 2021. February 02

Vaccine boosters

Interim public health considerations for the provision of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses

This document, published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, summarises the most recent evidence regarding vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection due to the circulating variants and regarding duration of immunity. Considerations around the implementation of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses will also be discussed. This document does not aim to provide recommendations about the administration of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines but summarises the current evidence and outlines options for consideration by public health authorities.

COVID behaviours 

COVID Behaviors Dashboard

Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’ COVID Behaviors Dashboard presents data from a global survey of knowledge, attitudes and practices around COVID-19. This analysis is generated from the Delphi Group at Carnegie Mellon University COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey and University of Maryland Social Data Science Center COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey (CTIS), in collaboration with Facebook.

Managing vaccine misinformation

The COVID-19 Vaccine Communication: A practical guide for improving vaccine communication and fighting misinformation

by Lewandowsky S, Cook J, Schmid P, Holford DL, Finn A, et al.

This handbook is for journalists, doctors, nurses, policy makers, researchers, teachers, students, parents – it’s for everyone who wants to know more about:

  • the COVID-19 vaccines,
  • how to talk to others about them,
  • how to challenge misinformation about the vaccines.

Vaccine information in other languages

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency, formerly Public Health England, produces a number of posters and leaflets about the COVID-19 vaccine in a number of different languages. They are available here.

Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet called COVID-19 vaccine - information for adults. It is available in different languages here.

The British Islamic Medical Association have resources on their website here, including position statements on the Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.

Vaccine hesitancy

The NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre's Oxford Precision Psychiatry Lab has created this page to answer questions about vaccine uptake and vaccine hesitancy, and provide links to guidance where available.

UK Government

The Covid Report browser aims to make it easier to find reports and meeting minutes informing the UK Government's COVID-19 policy.

The Government has published a roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Wider impacts of COVID-19 on Health (WICH) monitoring tool brings together metrics to assess the wider impacts of COVID-19 on health.


United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

UKHSA, formerly PHE, has produced a range of supporting materials about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health and social care settings, other non-clinical settings, and for the general public health professionals, including:




UKHSA and NPIS COVID-19 Toxicovigilance and Chemical Surveillance Summary Report

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), formerly PHE, is undertaking a regular analysis of their chemical incident data and UK poisoning data provided by the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) to evaluate whether there are any potential public health risks related to toxic substances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The analyses are published here:


12 Mar 2021 03 Nov 2020 20 Aug 2020


United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

NHS coronavirus guidance for clinicians and managers

This guidance contains information for Primary care, Secondary care and Community health, social care, mental health trusts and ambulance services.

Guiding principles for effective management of COVID-19 at a local level

This document, published by the Association of Directors of Public Health, is intended to outline principles for the design of COVID-19 Local Outbreak Plans. They are intended to: build on existing plans to manage outbreaks in specific settings, ensure the challenges of COVID-19 are understood, consider the impact on local communities and ensure the wider system capacity supports Directors of Public Health.

Local council information and support

The Local Government Association site contains useful information for councils on novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes a selection of up to date, informative case studies that aim to help local authorities as they navigate the Coronavirus pandemic.

Guidance for health visitors

The Institute of Health Visiting has produced this guidance, to help health visitors supporting new parents and their children.

Faculty of Occupational Medicine

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine is a charity committed to improving health at work, and they have created COVID-related guidance, including guidance for healthcare professionals on return to work for patients with long-COVID.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and pregnancy

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has published guidance for healthcare professionals on coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in pregnancy, published by the RCOG, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.

Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology Coronavirus Dermatology Resource

This is a regularly updated collection of guidelines, web resources and journal articles on coronavirus relevant to skin diseases and dermatology.

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

SAGE provides scientific and technical advice to support government decision-makers during emergencies.

Health Education England

Up-to-date guidance and information from HEE, NHS England and NHS Improvement as well as the government to help health professionals, HEE staff and the public respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation has created a regularly updated COVID-19 policy tracker, documenting national government and health and social care system responses to COVID-19 in England, and how they change over time.


The public health strategic framework for COVID-19:

  • is a resource for others developing strategies and action plans related to COVID-19 and the subsequent socioeconomic recovery;
  • sets out the public health priorities for managing the COVID pandemic in different scenarios;
  • brings together national, regional, and local public health expertise and experience to summarise key elements of public health policy that can help to manage and recover from the pandemic. It is based on public health expert consensus view and is regularly updated as circumstances and evidence change;
  • represents policies and approaches with the aim of improving public health and mitigating the impact of COVID on inequalities. It does not explicitly account for any potential issues of deliverability or acceptability of the policies or approaches described.

Please note: The framework is a discussion document only, and not government policy.

It is a live and regularly updated document, so please check back for updates.

Overall accountability for the strategic framework is held by the Public Health Strategic Response Group (SRG). This is chaired by the Senior Responsible Officer for the incident response, Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Health Security Agency. The SRG oversees and guides the development and content of the framework.

Last updated 16/12/2021

These resources have been produced by international and UK based organisations to support the management of COVID-19:

  • World Health Organization

    Provides information regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and Country and Technical Guidance, covering topics such as country readiness, patient management, risk communication and community engagement, surveillance and case definitions, infection prevention and control in health care facilities, disease commodity package, laboratory guidance, early investigations, and reduction of transmission from animals to humans.

  • NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence): COVID products

    The guidelines are developed in collaboration with NHS England and NHS Improvement and a cross-speciality clinical group, supported by the specialist societies and royal colleges. Rapid evidence reviews that have been prioritised will look at whether certain medicines may increase the severity or length of COVID-19 illness.

  • Medbox

    The MEDBOX team has compiled a collection of the most important guidelines and resources, situation reports, communication tools, laboratory guidance, etc.

  • MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis

    These pages provide all output from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, including publicly published online reports, planning tools, scientific resources, publications and video updates.

  • The Sphere standards and the Coronavirus response

    The Sphere movement aims to improve the quality of humanitarian work during disaster response. They have provided information on how individuals, communities and humanitarian actors best respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The document has two sections:

    1. The first section covers fundamental principles which are crucial to a successful, holistic intervention.

    2. The second covers relevant standards and guidance in the handbook’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH) and Health chapters.

  • Health Information and Quality Authority

    The Republic of Ireland's HIQA’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) team has created a  Database of public health guidance on COVID-19 produced by international organisations and curated by theme.

  • Legal, policy and practical guidance

    The Network for Public Health Law has produced a primer outlining legal, policy and practical guidance to understand the Novel Coronavirus and its related public health emergency response.

The current COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented in modern times and the scale and complexity of the response required is unique from any other incident.

With its expertise in virology and epidemiology, and the well-developed public health infrastructure within England, UKHSA is uniquely placed to undertake a number of initiatives to better understand and predict future trends in COVID-19.


UKHSA Scientific Summaries

COVID-19 public health advice changes: scientific summary

On Friday 1st April 2022, new guidance for the public was introduced advising people with symptoms of respiratory infections including COVID-19 to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities.

This paper briefly summarises evidence that supports the new guidance.

COVID-19 self-isolation changes: scientific summary

On Wednesday 22 December 2021, new guidance for the public and health and social care staff was introduced to enable those who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 to reduce their self-isolation period from 10 days to 7 days. This change applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

This paper briefly describes the scientific rationale for the change in guidance.


COVID-19 register

The COVID-19 register provides details of PHE and UKHSA led studies that have taken place since February 2020. It includes only PHE and UKHSA led studies and not collaborative studies led by non-UKHSA investigators.

Please contact if you would like further information or if you would like to contact a research study lead.


PHE and UKHSA Rapid Reviews

The Evidence Cell has been producing scoping searches and summaries, evidence summaries, and rapid reviews. These are available here, along with a description of the methodologies undertaken.


UKHSA (formerly PHE) Research Portal

UKHSA and PHE have conducted over 150 research and surveillance studies to better understand SARS-CoV-2 virus and its transmission. More than 300 new research papers, commentaries and editorials on all aspects of the virus, the illness it causes, and how to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. These papers are in addition to the rapid reviews described above, and are searchable via this portal.

The UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services Team has compiled a Guide to Covid-19 Rapid Review Collections, to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, many publishers made their content freely available to ensure that health practitioners have access to the best available evidence. This section brings these resources together, to make them more accessible.

Publisher Collections

  • Many major publishers of medical journals have made coronavirus-related content freely available.
  • Links to these, and further information can be found in this document.


UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services have compiled a coronavirus book collection, for UKHSA staff. If UKHSA staff would like to make a book purchase suggestion you may do so by emailing

Evidence Collections

The following organisations are providing access to rapid reviews, evidence syntheses, and specialist topics related to COVID-19:

Cochrane Special Collections

  • This page highlights content from the Cochrane Library relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with their partners, Cochrane have created this living mapping of ongoing Covid-19 research followed by a living network meta-analysis of study results as soon as they are available.

Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service

  • The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) is producing evidence syntheses to answer clinical questions about COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be updated regularly.

Evidence Aid

  • Evidence Aid specialises in collating and summarising the best available evidence about how to effectively prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies. They are working with global partners and a team of information specialists to identify systematic reviews that might be relevant to interventions for COVID-19, interventions that might help health and social care services to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 response on other health conditions and healthcare interventions, and the impact of COVID-19 on non-health outcomes (e.g. jobs and the economy). The summaries are available in English, with links to translations in other languages.

The Strategy Unit

  • Evidence summaries and analysis produced by five collaborating organisations (the Health Foundation; King’s Fund; Nuffield Trust; and two specialist NHS analytical teams, Imperial College Health Partners and the Strategy Unit).

EPPI-Centre: a living systematic map of the evidence

  • An up-to-date map of the current evidence partitioned into broad domains for easy exploration.

Public Health Scotland COVID-19 Research Repository

  • This repository contains a comprehensive collection of Scottish COVID-19 research. This includes research about COVID-19 in Scotland as well as research on COVID-19 undertaken by Scottish researchers.

Wales COVID-19 Evidence Centre: Our reports

  • This Centre produces two types of report: The first report for each question is a ‘Rapid Evidence Summary’ (RES), which is produced in one to two weeks. The aim of the RES is to provide some early information and inform the next stage of our work. If sufficient research information is available, and our stakeholders require further information, then the second stage involves conducting a ‘Rapid Review’ (RR). The RRs are typically conducted in one to two months.

Ireland National Health Library and Knowledge Service (NHL&KS)

  • Evidence summaries, rapid reviews and clinical guidance information produced by the NHL&KS.

Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), Ireland

  • HIQA's evidence summaries are undertaken at the request of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to inform national strategic decision-making.

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health COVID Evidence Portal

  • CADTH produce a series of reports on topics related to COVID-19, including prevention, infection control, screening and testing, treatment, and mental health.

COVID-19 Evidence Network (COVID-END)

  • Developed by the McMaster Health Forum, this is an inventory of ‘best evidence syntheses’ for all types of decisions being faced by those who are part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, including:

    • evidence about public-health measures (e.g., masks and tests)
    • evidence about clinical management of COVID-19 (e.g., prescription drugs) and pandemic-related conditions (e.g., mental health and addictions issues)
    • evidence about health-system arrangements (e.g., scaling hospital capacity up or down and virtual-care alternatives to in-person care)
    • evidence about economic and social responses (e.g., school and public-transit changes).

COVID-19 Data Index

  • This site hosts a metadata catalogue of COVID-19 data sets, ranging from clinical, sociodemographic, environmental, economic and mobility data to case statistics and genomic sequences.

SPORE Evidence Alliance

  • This is a Canada-wide alliance of researchers who produce evidence to inform decision(s) related to health policy, practice and/or service for COVID-19.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine coronavirus resource collection

  • This collection is a compilation of their resources related to COVID-19. The publications explore prevention, response, and recovery from pandemic infectious disease.

Rapid Reviews COVID-19 RR:C19

  • This is an overlay journal aimed to accelerate peer review of COVID-19 preprints.

Royal College of Surgeons of England COVID-19 Research Group

  • This site links to studies related to COVID-19 and surgery.

Public Health Ontario

  • Public Health Ontario provides scientific and technical advice to the Ministry of Health, local public health units and other health system partners to support COVID-19 response efforts. This site contains evidence briefs on a range of COVID-19 topics.

If you need assistance with developing and running searches, UKHSA staff can contact If you would like a specialist to undertake a search for you please log into our Knowledge and Library Service Enquiries Portal to submit a literature search request.

Non-eligible staff are advised to contact their local health librarian for support if necessary.

Database searching

This section provides details of COVID-19-related information sources, including guidance on how to search, databases, preprint servers, grey literature, search terms, and searching strategies for specific sources. In addition, you will also find links to live literature searches, and reference management software.

Guides on how to search

The World Health Organization has produced this reference book about methods to guide Health-Emergency and Disaster Risk Management, and chapter 6.2 is specifically about how to search for reports of existing research. Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management (Health-EDRM) has recently emerged as a critical field for research, policy, and practice as a result of the growing recognition of health as a core dimension in disaster risk management.

A roadmap for searching literature in PubMed is a LibGuide, produced by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which teaches you how to build and conduct a systematic search in PubMed. The following topics are covered: research question formulation, collecting MeSH and free-text terms, truncation and phrase searching, combining search terms, use of search filters, evaluation search strategies, and managing references.


Guide to Covid-19 Rapid Review CollectionsThis resource has been created by the UK Health Security Agency Knowledge and Library services team. It is a reference guide to organisations who produce rapid reviews or evidence summaries on COVID-19 topics. Its purpose is to enable the quick discovery of evidence to answer research questions. It is made available so that those who intend to undertake reviews can check the evidence base before doing so, thus avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. Please note that it is not an exhaustive list.
PROSPEROThis is an international prospective register of systematic reviews, rapid reviews, and umbrella reviews. They are fast-tracking registration of protocols related to COVID-19. Before starting a systematic review, check this resource, and if one is already being undertaken, please do not duplicate without good reason. Switch to another topic to avoid research waste and contribute more effectively to tackling the pandemic.
COVID-ENDThis is an inventory of ‘best evidence syntheses’ for all types of decisions being faced by those who are part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. The evidence is divided into four parts: public-health measures (e.g. masks and tests), clinical management of COVID-19 (e.g. prescription drugs) and pandemic-related conditions (e.g. mental health and addictions issues), health-system arrangements (e.g., scaling capacity up or down and virtual-care alternatives to in-person care), and economic and social responses (e.g., classroom and public-transit changes). Before starting a systematic review, check this resource, and if one is already being undertaken, please do not duplicate without good reason. Switch to another topic to avoid research waste and contribute more effectively to tackling the pandemic.
L·OVE platformThis is a Living OVerview of COVID-19-related Evidence. The word ‘living’ describes a system that is updated as soon as new evidence becomes available. It maps and organises all the best evidence on COVID-19. This resource is part of the Epistemonikos multilingual database of health evidence, the largest source of systematic reviews relevant for health-decision making, and a large source of other types of scientific evidence.
WHO Global Research Database on COVID-19This database represents a comprehensive multilingual source of current literature on the topic. It is updated daily from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searching, and the addition of other expert-referred scientific articles.
LitCovidProduced by the National Library of Medicine, this resource provides a central access to 72516 (and growing) relevant articles about COVID-19 in PubMed. The articles are updated daily and are organised under 8 headings (general, mechanism, transmission, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, case report, and forecasting). They are further categorised by different research topics and geographic locations for improved access.
Children and COVID-19 Research LibraryCurated by UNICEF, this is a curated collection of research about COVID-19 and children.
CoronaCentral This resource collates published papers and preprints for SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, and organises them by browsable themes (epidemiology, clinical, biology, treatment, psychology, and policy). You can also search by keyword.
COVID-19 Research Implementation and Knowledge Hub The aim of this hub is to ensure that research teams can find the support, tools, resources and guidance that they need to aid their studies during this rapidly evolving situation. Using shared and open protocols and tools can raise research standards and enable easier and better data sharing.

Google and Google Scholar are two popular information sources, but there are also some bibliographic databases, such as PubMed, Medline, Embase, Global Health, and Global Index Medicus, which support more advanced searching and provide access to relevant biomedical journals. More information about accessing databases is available here.

Preprint sources

The COVID-19 Portfolio has been created by the National Institutes of Health. It is a comprehensive, expert-curated source for publications and preprints related to either COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It includes articles from PubMed and preprints from arXiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, medRxiv, Research Square, and SSRN, and is updated daily.  

Grey literature searching

The MedNar database is a US resource which searches journal articles, medical societies, and other government resources.

Search terms

To search these resources, it is important to use the right terminology. This is not an exhaustive list of COVID-19 search terms, as the terminology is changing regularly, but it is a starting point, and a combination of these terms can be used to search the information sources described above:

  • coronavirus*
  • coronovirus*
  • "Coronavirus"
  • "Coronavirus Infections"
  • "Wuhan coronavirus"
  • Wuhan
  • "2019-nCoV"
  • COVID-19
  • CORVID-19
  • CONVID-19
  • WN-CoV
  • HCoV-19
  • "novel coronavirus"
  • "new coronavirus"
  • CoV
  • 2019 novel
  • new coronavirus
  • ncov
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • SARSCov19
  • ncov*wuhan
  • (outbreak* OR "respiratory illness" OR "respiratory disease" OR respiratory symptom* OR seafood market OR food market OR wildlife) and (Wuhan OR China OR Chinese)

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

The U.S. National Library of Medicine produces the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus, a controlled and hierarchically-organized vocabulary, used for indexing, cataloguing, and searching of biomedical and health-related information. Here are some multi-language versions of MeSH:

Search strategies

A number of organisations have developed search strategies to make it easier for people to find the evidence on freely-available information sources:

United Kingdom Health Security Agency

  • UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services Team has developed (and updated on 08/03/2021) a search strategy specifically for PubMed, an openly accessible database of biomedical literature, produced by the U.S. National Library or Medicine:

(coronavirus*[Title] OR coronovirus*[Title] OR coronoravirus*[Title] OR coronaravirus*[Title] OR corono-virus*[Title] OR corona-virus*[Title] OR "Coronavirus"[Mesh] OR "Coronavirus Infections"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19"[Mesh] OR "SARS-CoV-2"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19 Serological Testing"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19 Testing"[Mesh] OR "COVID-19 Vaccines"[Mesh] OR "Wuhan coronavirus" [Supplementary Concept] OR COVID-19[Title] OR CORVID-19[Title] OR "2019nCoV"[Title] OR "2019-nCoV"[Title] OR WN-CoV[Title] OR nCoV[Title] OR "SARS-CoV-2"[Title] OR HCoV-19[Title] OR "novel coronavirus"[Title])

If you are searching for evidence from the start of the outbreak then you should combine the above search (using OR) with the following terms:

OR ((wuhan[Title/Abstract]) AND (pneumonia[Title/Abstract] OR outbreak*[Title/Abstract] OR "respiratory illness"[Title/Abstract]))) OR "Wuhan novel coronavirus"[Title/Abstract]) OR "Wuhan coronavirus"[Title/Abstract]) 

If you want to compare the current outbreak with previous similar breaks, you should add search terms for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS, MERSCoV, MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS, SARS-CoV-1, SARSCoV-1, SARSCoV1, SARS-CoV1, SARSCoV, SARS-CoV, SARS1, SARS-1, SARScoronavirus1, SARS-coronavirus-1, SARScoronavirus 1, SARS coronavirus1, SARScoronovirus1, SARS-coronovirus-1, SARScoronovirus 1, SARS coronovirus1).

  • For quicker results, a less systematic search is available here.
  • Filtered search results on the treatment of COVID-19, are available here.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

TRACIE Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway

  • TRACIE is produced by the US Department of Health & Human Services.

    It was created to meet the information and technical assistance needs of

    people working in disaster medicine, healthcare system preparedness, and

    public health emergency preparedness.

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)

CADTH has developed a set of literature searching tools for COVID-19, which include search strings, and links to grey literature resources.

Google Scholar

  • Dr Wichor Bramer from Erasmus MC the Netherlands has created this search strategy, which can be cut and pasted into Google Scholar:

2019nCoV|"2019 nCoV|CoV|coronavirus"|"2019 novel|new coronavirus|cov"|"wuhan coronavirus|cov|ncov|outbreak" |"wuhan*coronavirus|cov|ncov|outbreak" |"wuhan**coronavirus|cov|ncov|outbreak"|"coronavirus|cov|ncov*wuhan"

Ovid Expert Searches

  • OVID provides access to databases such as Medline and Embase. This page provides hints, advice and suggestions about how search strategies might be built.

GIDEON (Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Online Network)

    • Using the Ovid medical research platform, Wolters Kluwer developed two Expert Searches focused on Wuhan coronavirus. The Gideon Database has been enabled for all NHS Athens accounts nationally until the end of April. (Please note that the link to GIDEON is in the menu bar at the top, not in the list of Ovid products). A tutorial is available here.

Live literature searches

To reduce duplication of effort and maintain consistency in searching, librarians are sharing their search strategies, so that they can be re-used and adapted by other searchers:

Reference management software

Rayyan is a free web application to help systematic review authors create systematic reviews and collaborate on them. They have created a public Rayyan review, made up of the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, published by the Allen Institute for AI. The dataset contains over 45,000 scholarly articles, including over 33,000 with full text, about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses. Once logged in, the review is in the "Other Reviews" tab (called "Review containing the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset"). The references can be viewed and exported in order to create systematic reviews.

Clinical Trials

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Innovation Observatory

  • Daily updates are provided in their dashboard of clinical trials in the pipeline for potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) treatments. They are collecting information on SARS-CoV-2 tests currently in development or commercially available for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

EU Clinical Trials Register

  • The European Union Clinical Trials Register allows you to search for protocol and results information on:

    • Interventional clinical trials that are conducted in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA);
    • Clinical trials conducted outside the EU / EEA that are linked to European paediatric-medicine development.

Cochrane COVID-19 Trials Register

Cytel COVID-19 Clinical Trial Tracker

  • The dashboard uses data from WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, the European Clinical Trials Registry,, the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, the German Clinical Trials registry, the Japan Primary Registries Network, the Iranian Clinical Trial Registry, and the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

Research Projects

The UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) and GLoPID-R

  • A live database tracking newly-funded research projects, across the world, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital Science – Dimensions

  • Updated once every 24 hours, so the latest research can be viewed alongside existing information. Research outputs include datasets and clinical trials. The aim is to allow access to the latest research information as quickly as possible.

Trusted sources from Health Education England

  • The NHS Library and Knowledge Services team at Health Education England has collated information and resources on Covid-19 from trusted sources which librarians, health and care staff, teachers, voluntary organisations can be confident to share with patients, clients and families. It includes information tailored for children and young people, older people, people who prefer information in British Sign Language (BSL) or Makaton and other accessible formats.

Information in other languages

  • Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet called COVID-19 vaccine - information for adults. It is available in different languages here.
  • NHS England has a range of COVID-19-related leaflets in other languages. You can access them here (scroll down the left-hand navigation bar to see the options).
  • Public Health England has translated the COVID-19 "Stay alert to stay safe" campaign posters into Bengali, Indian-Punjabi, Pakistani-Punjabi, Polish, Slovak, Somali, and Urdu. Topics include hand washing, limiting contact, keeping a safe distance, self isolation, and working from home.
  • The US National Library of Medicine has health information available in multiple languages, organised by health topic or language.
  • Yorkshire and Humber region specific Covid-19 information for migrants is available here. The site includes information in different languages and information about services in the region.
  • Doctors of the World - in partnership with with the Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice, this organisation has published information for patients in 48 languages.
  • Respond Crisis Translation has translated a 1-pager, into many different languages, about preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • New South Wales Government in Australia produces a range of translated consumer health information on COVID-19.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, have made answers to common questions about coronavirus available in Spanish. Topics include how long does coronavirus last on different surfaces, what types of disinfectant are most effective, etc.

Evaluating online information

Not all information is good information, especially in an online environment. The Internet is full of facts and opinions, often shared more widely via social media. Most of the information is balanced and informative but some can be misleading or even harmful to share and/or use in the decisions we make about our health. 

SHARE checklist

The SHARE checklist can help you spot false and/or misleading information.


CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. The CRAAP Test provides a list of questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not a source is reliable and sufficiently credible to use when making decisions. 

World Health Organization COVID-19 Mythbusters

The World Health Organization has created a page which debunks COVID-related myths, by providing facts. Topics include masks, sanitisers, use of supplements, hand dryers, etc.

Other sources of consumer health information

  • Coronavirus: the science explained - this site lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control. This website will be regularly updated with the latest scientific information behind the coronavirus outbreak.
  • EPI-WIN - WHO Information Network for Epidemic - provided by the World Health Organization, EPI-WIN seeks to give people access to timely accurate information from trusted sources, during a public health event, including COVID-19. This information will be tailored to different audiences and will answer pertinent questions as the event unfolds. It contains myth busters, advice, FAQs, and useful infographics.

Patient experience

Information about specific conditions



Hand hygiene

  • The NHS has an information page on how to wash your hands.
  • The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has produced some handwashing posters in different languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Portugese, Urdu.

The following organisations provide epidemiological information:

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy maps and visuals

  • This resource contains epidemiology information alongside news and other information.

China Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Webpage tracking the epidemic in China.


  • Delivers real-time intelligence on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases. The system monitors, organizes, integrates, filters, visualizes and disseminates online information about emerging diseases in nine languages

Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering

  • An Interactive worldwide map of the COVID-19 epidemic, showing global numbers of cases and deaths.

ProMED International Society for Infectious Diseases

  • Publicly-available system conducting global reporting of infectious diseases outbreaks.

The New Humanitarian

  • Website tracking the COVID-19 epidemic spread.

Some online courses are freely available to improve knowledge about COVID-19:

Coronavirus: Learning for the health and care workforce (via e-Learning for Healthcare)

  • The programme has been created by Health Education England and includes key materials to help the health and care workforce respond to Coronavirus.Courses in the Coronavirus programme currently include:

    1. Essential Guidance from the NHS and Government
    2. Infection Prevention and Control
    3. Public Health England – Personal Protective Equipment
    4. Critical Care Resources

COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus

  • The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is offering a course called COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus. The course explains what is currently known about the disease outbreak, what the virus it is, how it is thought to spread, how to respond to it, and implications for the future. The course is free, lasts 3 weeks, and requires 4 hours of study per week.

COVID-19 Micro learning

  • The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has produced a series of micro-learning online sessions:

    1. What are non-pharmaceutical countermeasures in COVID-19 context?
    2. Which are the non-pharmaceutical countermeasures linked to Personal Protection?
    3. Which are the environmental non-pharmaceutical countermeasures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
    4. Which social distancing non-pharmaceutical countermeasures mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
    5. Which are the travel related countermeasures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?

Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control

  • This World Health Organization course provides a general introduction to COVID-19 and emerging respiratory viruses and is intended for public health professionals, incident managers and personnel working for the United Nations, international organizations and NGOs.

FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness training materials

  • Dr. Richard Schwartz, MD, FACEP, gives a brief overview of the precautions and infection control considerations for Coronaviruses to include Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID-19). This brief, three-part series provides an overview of coronaviruses, barrier precautions and controls for the viruses, and transportation and movement of patients who have or are suspected of having the virus.

Irish Global Health Network

  • Resources for health professionals and global health workers, this page brings together relevant published data from a global health perspective on the coronavirus outbreak.

Science Matters: Let’s talk about COVID19

  • Imperial College London has launched a free online course explaining the science behind the response to the novel coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak. It is free to participate and takes approximately 19 hours to complete.

Finding the Evidence Training

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

UKHSA Knowledge and Library Services

  • Knowledge and Library Services (KLS) provide a range of information skills training, which can be delivered in a group or one-to-one setting, face-to-face or via MS Teams. For further information please see here.

The following organisations provide fact checking on a variety of topics, including COVID-19:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters

  • WHO COVID-19 fact checking website that covers a wide variety of related topics.

Don’t feed the beast campaign

  • Information and guidance on misinformation from HM Government.

Cutting through the Covid-19 confusion

  • A set of resources from Ofcom to help provide people with the tools to navigate news and information about Covid-19.

Full Fact

  • A UK independent fact checking charity.


  • Northern Irish, independent non-profit fact checking organisation.

  • A US-based fact checking project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Reality Check

  • Fact checking by the BBC.


  • Fact checking by the Channel 4 News service.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email