Statement on our grant from the Department of Health and Social Care
Global Change Data Lab is the non-profit that publishes Our World in Data.
Much of Our World in Data’s work on the pandemic was made possible by a grant from the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – including our global datasets on COVID vaccinations and on COVID testing.
The first grant payment was transferred to us in August 2020. As with other sources of funding, this grant from the DHSC was publicly listed on Our World in Data’s funding page.
We issue this statement in response to articles in the press, reporting on private conversations, among government employees, in relation to our grant with the DHSC. We want to emphasise that we followed all our due diligence processes and support investigations into how public funds are used.
The starting point was this tweet from our Executive Director, Mr Max Roser, on 19th March 2020:
It’s great to work with the small team we are.— Max Roser (@MaxCRoser) March 19, 2020
But in weeks like these when the team is working around the clock – despite the impact that the pandemic & the shutdowns have on our own lives – I am angry about the grant proposals we got rejected last year.
We could do much more. https://t.co/Yz1Lhkb5Ad
Following this message, Mr Roser received an email from Mr William Warr, who introduced himself as an advisor to the UK government. He asked for details regarding GCDL’s financial situation and plans, which we sent on the following weekend.
The emails reported in the press suggest that the government wanted to make a grant payment within 24 hours. In fact we did not receive any grant payments for several months as it took several weeks to follow our due diligence process regarding the grant agreement and we only received the first grant payment five months after that process was completed.
Such a long timeline is necessary to ensure we follow all of our due diligence processes and policies. The grant was made with no undue haste and on a set timeframe with a contract outlining clear goals and deliverables. Neither Mr Roser, nor anyone else from GCDL involved in setting up this grant, had ever had any contact with any of the named individuals within the government before mid-March 2020 when they first approached us.
We are very proud of the work carried out by Our World in Data during the pandemic. We are a small team and everyone has been working extremely hard every day since the early days of this pandemic. Our work has been used by more than 135 million people around the world since the beginning of last year.
Beyond this we are producing the data that many others rely on – as always, all of the work that Our World in Data has produced over the last year have been open-access, free, and published as a public good. This work is the basis for scientific research and media reporting in countries around the world. All leading media outlets globally, the World Health Organization, and the scientific work of thousands of researchers relies on our daily work on the COVID pandemic.