Socioeconomic data in the context of the BY-COVID project – An update after the project’s first year.

26 October 2022

A milestone has been reached in the first year of the BY-COVID project. Over 600 COVID-19-related studies from the social sciences and humanities (SSH), harvested from the CESSDA Data Catalogue (CDC) are added in the COVID-19 Data Portal. Also, BY-COVID had its first General Assembly this month, which highlighted the important role of socioeconomic data for infectious disease research, and for responding to public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social science data from CESSDA is now available on the COVID-19 Data Portal, as a result of a CESSDA collaboration led by DANS within the BY-COVID project. This data is harvested from the CESSDA Data Catalogue (CDC), meaning the portal will be continuously updated with the latest COVID-related CDC data. Further progress is coming up soon with the harvesting of the EUI’s COVID19 Social Science and Humanities Data Portal.

The COVID-19 Data Portal was launched in April 2020 with the goal of bringing together and sharing datasets from various disciplines in order to further coronavirus research. As of this month, the portal contains “over 15 million record host sequences, expression, protein and sample data, and biological images and scientific literature”, according to a October 19 BY-COVID news piece. 


BY-COVID aims to bring together and make available data on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases from various disciplines, and enhancing the COVID-19 Data Portal with additional data is one of the ways in which it accomplishes this. The CDC SSH data constitutes the first data source to be connected to the Portal by the project. 

This work was carried out by CESSDA affiliates FSD, EKKE and DANS in a task on socioeconomic data sources led by DANS, in collaboration with EMBL-EBI who maintain the portal. Together with its CESSDA partners, DANS works on the promotion of the socioeconomic side of the project (read more about DANS’ involvement in BY-COVID here.)

Important but often overlooked

The role of SSH was one of the topics featured in the BY-COVID project’s first General Assembly meeting in Brussels this month, following the completion of the first year of the project. SSH is an important but often overlooked aspect when it comes to research of infectious diseases. BY-COVID therefore aims to bridge this gap by combining SSH research with life science research, and demonstrating how connecting data from multiple disciplines can aid in the response to health crises such as COVID-19.

During the meeting, a presentation was given on behalf of CESSDA partners in BY-COVID, on its role in supporting SSH aspects of the project, as well as why SSH is important for infectious disease research. The presentation emphasised how SSH can help better understand the societal impacts of health crises such as COVID-19, as well as how the public’s reaction to these can also greatly affect the effectiveness of healthcare responses.   

Round table

The General Assembly ended with roundtable discussions where project members from different work packages and disciplines discussed cross-cutting issues. DANS, as the relevant task leader on socioeconomic data, hosted a table on the role of SSH in the BY-COVID project and beyond. The group had a fruitful discussion on how SSH aspects can be implemented and collaborated on across the project; how SSH data can be shared at the clinical as well as researcher levels; what specific SSH factors/variables are particularly relevant, and finally; how to facilitate training on these topics. It was also discussed how to continue the collaboration on SSH issues with internal as well as external partners, and contribute to a more holistic approach towards infectious disease research and a faster response to future crises.

More information
BY-COVID project
COVID-19 Data Portal
CESSDA Data Catalogue(CDC)
EUI COVID19 Social Science and Humanities Data Portal

BY-COVID is a project funded under the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement number 101046203.


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