The current situation around the coronavirus requires many changes and adjustments with creative ideas, support measures and research running at full speed. Of course, our partner universities are also involved in all kinds of activities related to Covid-19.
The University of Szeged initiated more than 30 projects related to health and life sciences during the last few months. These include, for example, preparations for the clinical testing of an antiviral treatment of Covid-19 as well as the development of mass testing methods. Additionally, a chatbot named Berci-bot supports the students by providing information on distance education, graduation and dormitory placement.
Mass testing was also carried out at the University of Munich in the form of drive-through test stations. Additionally, a study to investigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is currently being conducted at the Department of Infectious and Tropical Medicine. Since the beginning of April, the study team has been visiting around 3,000 representatively selected households in Munich examining the infection status of the study participants. The so called "Prospective COVID-19 Cohort Munich" (KoCo19 for short) uses antibodies to determine how many people have been infected with the virus without ever noticing symptoms. As the New York Times is reporting, the study can help political decision-making on further necessary measures to deal with the pandemic.
In addition, the EUGLOH partners are offering help in relation to social distancing. The University of Porto is a great example for this. A special website about the coronavirus helps to raise awareness among the students. A podcast with an interview to the Dean of the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences of U.Porto, internal hotlines for support, guidelines for meal planning in this special period of time and much more provide the students with suggestions, information and psychological help. Physical exercise is also essential to support mental health. For this, a free manifold programme of online sports classes called “UPFit at Home” is offered by the Sports Centre of the University of Porto. The programme is very successful with over 200.000 visits in less than two weeks.
In times of crisis, also the cooperation of different institutions and mutual support is essential. At the University of Paris-Saclay, more than 50% of the students of the Faculty of Medicine have joined forces on a voluntary basis to give their support to the medical facilities involved in assisting and caring for Covid-19 patients. The Faculty also serves as a platform for the redistribution of equipment (masks, etc.) provided by the Île-de-France Regional Health Agency. Also, the laboratories of the university are joining forces to support healthcare facilities by providing equipment and volunteers to support the teams of researchers.
Research is also in full swing at Lund University. Scientists there have launched a free app to help map the spread of infection in Sweden and increase knowledge of the coronavirus. The aim is to discover which parts of Sweden have a high risk of infection, which behavioural factors raise a person’s risk of adverse outcomes and how underlying health conditions affect risk and how quickly the virus is spreading.
Additionally, on April 24-26, the EUGLOH partners cooperated to form teams across universities to participate in the EUvsVirus Hackathon. The aim was to create innovative solutions to the current crisis by bringing together creative minds from different disciplines like IT, health, business, social and political sciences and education. EUGLOH committed as an official partner of the Hackathon and successfully participated with 33 followers and participants, seven teams and various experts.
Altogether, research in all areas is taking place. We are working intensively to find solutions to every challenge in order to help overcoming the pandemic as a unit.