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THL research professor Markus Perola emphasizes that the By-COVID-project is preparing for the next pandemic by analyzing COVID-19 data.

“We are now piloting how this kind of collaboration can be done when the next pandemic comes,” Perola says. According to Perola, there is a genuine need for data harmonization between European countries.

Perola uses CSC’s computing services and sensitive data storage and analysis services for almost all his research. THL’s raw data is available in CSC’s sensitive data services, but it does not leave Finland.

The By-COVID project is also collecting information about the virus itself, which is open research data. The project’s COVID-19 Data Portal provides researchers access to analyze over 8 million COVID-19 sequences.

COVID-19 data analyzed on LUMI supercomputer

The Research Council of Finland has funded a pilot, where COVID-19 portal data was tested and analyzed on LUMI supercomputer, located in CSC’s data center in Kajaani, Finland.

One of CSC tasks is to promote the use of supercomputers in data-intensive computing, and the pilot supported the By-COVID project.

Tommi Nyrönen, Director of ELIXIR Finland at CSC, reports that the project has overcome many technical challenges related to data management.

“With European supercomputing, we can now transfer hundreds of thousands of virus data points daily between computing centers with the help of European research networks,” Nyrönen says.

The capacity of a supercomputer will be needed in the future to analyse all the data, enabling a rapid response in the event of future pandemics.