The Coronavirus situation has a huge impact on our society. Christoph Schmidt, member of the acatech executive Board, published two related articles (translated in several languages)
The Coronavirus Crisis: Keeping the economy running, meeting basic necessities, maintaining innovation
Intervention – Stabilisation – Stimulation
This acatech Impulse presents the Academy’s initial reflections on the coronavirus crisis.
We will explore the issues in greater depth over the coming months.
The coronavirus crisis is putting our healthcare system under unprecedented pressure. Hospital capacity in particular will be pushed to its limits if the number of infections is allowed to grow unchecked. Our hospitals will not be able to cope with an explosion in the number of severely ill patients requiring intensive medical care. Moreover, we do not yet have a testing infrastructure that can reliably identify the majority of people infected with the virus from an early stage.
As a result, the government’s current strategy is primarily centred on social distancing in order to slow down the number of new infections and check the spread of the virus.
In order to protect the public, these measures must have the utmost priority. However, they also have economic implications. Economic activity has been brought to a standstill on an unprecedented scale. And this has happened simultaneously, not just in Germany, but in virtually every economy around the world. A global economic crisis is inevitable, although it is still too early to make meaningful predictions about its duration and scale. At the moment, however, precise economic forecasts are not a priority – what we need to do is recognise the overriding importance of preventing the economy from coming to an abrupt and long-lasting standstill. This is particularly essential so that the healthcare system can perform as effectively as possible – after all, it too is part of the economy and thus vulnerable to economic impacts. It is also necessary to ensure that people’s basic necessities are met in all the other areas of their lives.
The government has recognised this in principle and is supporting its strategy for containing the epidemic with a range of supplementary economic policy measures. These include regulations on short-time work, liquidity assistance and tax deferrals designed to compensate for loss of income in households and prevent companies with sound business models from going bankrupt purely due to liquidity issues. These support measures are absolutely critical and must be delivered rapidly and in a targeted manner. The Federal Government must also provide strong organisational support for the economy during the crisis and establish its own expert task force to monitor developments. This publication provides suggestions for how to address the challenge of implementing the necessary measures in practice.
It is divided into three parts:
CIIRC CTU Develops Own Prototype of CIIRC RP95 Respirator / Half Mask
Lets Beat the COVID-19 via Distributed Production
CIIRC CTU is entering the fight against COVID-19. At the RICAIP Centre of Excellence supported by EU resources, CIIRC CTU is developing a brand new prototype of safety half-mask under the name “CIIRC RP95”.
Our goal is to make a prototype that can be produced anywhere in the world on the principles of distributed production. Distributed production allows to compensate the local lack of production capacities or resources.
CIIRC CTU researchers developed and certified the prototype of the advanced respirator “CIIRC RP95-3D” in just one week.
Open source medical ventilator
As epidemic progresses potential need for emergency ventilators became obvious. After fielding and eventually dismissing “easy fix” ideas, such as the Ambu bag automation or multiple patients per ventilator, we fortunately got in contact with the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Czech Technical University, specifically with a group of people who have spent years working on various ventilator designs.
We quickly focused our efforts on creating a support network for their work – to allow the opportunity for their designs to materialize, all the while enlisting the help of leading engineering companies and component manufacturers to assist.
Worldwide community hacks to fight Covid-19 pandemics.
Help locally by contributing as others did around the world.
Innovation challenge to slow spread of Covid-19
The New York Academy of Science (NYAS) and The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) international science competition – Junior Academy – is now inviting social actors and teenagers in the age range 13–17 to join an open global challenge to fight the spread of Covid-19.
Junior Academy Competition based on the initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences to reduce anxiety in youth
Challenge: Combating COVID-19
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has sparked alarm worldwide. Many countries are grappling with the rise in confirmed cases. It is urgent and crucial for us to discover ways to use technology to contain the outbreak and manage future public health emergencies.
In the future, NTVA will host a webinar series on how technology and science help prevent the spread of infection, strengthen treatment and reduce the extent of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Coronavirus: Vienna life sciences institutes provide test capacity
Together with university and non-university research institutions, the life sciences institutes of the OeAW provide equipment, manpower and know-how for additional virus tests.
First SARS-CoV-2 genomes in Austria openly available
The Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) is actively engaged in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Our researchers perform advisory role for the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. They are involved in international endeavours aimed at inventing effective medical treatment. Our researchers perform a significant number of tests for the presence for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, thus helping the State Sanitary Inspectorate. Additionally, they have created a prototype of a test for the presence for SARS-CoV-2. Also, one of PAS institutes has invented a device that allows to ventilate two patients using a single respirator. Furthermore, a number of PAS laboratories deliver personal protection equipment to hospitals.
Engineering response to COVID-19: can you help?
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented global challenge, impacting profoundly on health and wellbeing, daily life and the economy around the world.
In order to kick start engagement across the Academies, the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) plans to host several video conferences over the next few weeks open to Euro-CASE and CAETS academies to share knowledge about challenges and initiatives, build networks of interested parties, and explore what more the international engineering community and Euro-CASE/CAETS could be doing to address the impact of the virus. The knowledge gathered and networks created also will help inform a small grants call for international engineering collaboration on pandemics that RAEng will launch in the coming weeks.
The Royal Academy of Engineering is keen to help identify potential solutions and facilitate useful contacts across its national and international engineering networks that could help our governments solve problems and assist the public health response.
There is an immediate need for ventilator manufacture, but we want to encourage innovation and ideas across all areas, including healthcare systems, critical infrastructure, business management and supply chain.
If you don’t feel able to respond to the specific requests below, there are still ways that you as an engineering professional can help with the effort to address the coronavirus:
Le monde entier affronte la pandémie de COVID-19. Dans cette crise, les technologies jouent un rôle déterminant pour faire face aux conséquences du virus, en Suisse comme à l’étranger. Le télétravail et le commerce en ligne explosent, accélérant la digitalisation de nombreux secteurs. Les écoles expérimentent à large échelle l’enseignement à distance. La recherche recourt au big data et à l’intelligence artificielle dans la course aux traitements et le rythme des publications s’accélère. Du sommet de l’Etat jusqu’aux citoyens, tout le monde se mobilise et les initiatives se multiplient. La SATW s’implique directement et plusieurs de ses membres sont au coeur de la lutte contre le virus.
48 hours. You and potentially 8 million others. The Covid-19 crisis in Switzerland. In Europe. Worldwide. We stick together. We find solutions!
Join us with your skills to take on the challenge now – no matter what your background is. Together we are strong!
How you can help science fight coronavirus
Europe’s academies are playing a vital role in global efforts to understand and tackle the challenge posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Academies are home to world-leading expertise on infectious diseases — including not only the medical and epidemiological facts, but also on social and economic effects, and how people and populations respond.
Our partners and colleagues are seeking help from researchers and members of the public:
Statement by the Board of FEAM: Protecting medical personnel from COVID-19
In a statement published today, the Board of the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) joins its voice to call for the protection of the physical and mental health of medical workers in the frontline.
“If protection materials are available, good practice would be that hospitalized patients are treated as being potential COVID-19 infected on the ward and during investigations”, says FEAM President Professor George Griffin. The problem is that tests currently used to identify COVID-19 patients (RT-qPRC) search for the virus’ RNA genome. Because of this, the results of this test depend on whether the virus can be traced. A patient with COVID-19 can still get a negative result, for instance when the quantity of the virus is too low (which happens in some cases), or when the sample is not well-collected from the patient’ nose or throat.
“Medical personnel not well protected and feeling safe because of an initial negative (RT-qPCR) test in a patient can be at risk of contamination”. The same will happen with “other patients in the ward”, said Professor Stefan Constantinescu, who is also Vice-President of FEAM. This type of test is only useful at the time it is done and often needs to be repeated.
Also, because the test traces the virus, it cannot say if a person has had COVID-19 before. This is why antibody tests –which are based on the patients’ immune response—would be crucial to identify health care workers that are immune to COVID-19. However, such tests are still ongoing validation and approval.
The FEAM Board also emphasized the need to protect health workers’ mental health; many of them are working under extreme conditions and some are being forced to prioritize care for patients with the highest probability to survive. Potential harm to the mental health of medical workers will also have important repercussions for already strained healthcare systems in the near future.
Research projects and initiatives to tackle the spread of coronavirus and preparedness for other outbreaks.
Good morning and welcome to the first of what will be a monthly update from me on my portfolio as European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
During this very challenging time dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission is working hard on all fronts to help tackle the emergency and protect people’s health. Science, research and innovation are at the heart of these efforts. Last month we mobilised considerable funding as part of our coordinated response against the spread of COVID-19, including up to €80 million in financial support to vaccine developer CureVac.
We launched a new website that will be updated regularly with the latest information on coronavirus research and funding opportunities.
I gave my support to a call this week for all coronavirus publications and the data supporting them to be made immediately publicly-accessible, so that researchers can have access to the data and information they need. I also took part in a UNESCO-organised dialogue with Ministers on the topic of open science. Open access is already a tangible reality in the EU and we can lead by example thanks to our scientific expertise, technological development and innovation capacity, while cooperating closely with international partners.
Our own scientists at the Joint Research Centre have designed a control material that labs can use to check that their tests accurately detect the virus. This will help to ensure that testing carried out in labs across Europe do not return incorrect results.
JRC experts developed the Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources platform together with the World Health Organization, and have been tracking the outbreak since it first emerged in China. They are also at the forefront of research that’s helping us better understand the spread of the virus, the effectiveness of control measures and the impact on our economies.
As control measures are implemented across the EU, I stand ready to help Member States ensure the continuity of education and training and support their cultural and creative sectors. We will be as flexible as possible when it comes to the implementation of the flagship programmes like Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps and Creative Europe to minimise the impact of the Coronavirus crisis on the beneficiaries of those programmes. This is the main message we passed on to Erasmus+ National Agencies during a recent webinar: we are here to support them in their daily work for a smooth running of the programmes, and to provide clarifications and practical advice to participants in light of the COVID-19 outbreak (see latest factsheet).
I’ve also been taking part in video conferences with EU Education Ministers to work together on a coherent EU-wide response to the situation. We have had positive discussions on making sure our children don’t miss out on their education, by sharing knowledge on virtual classrooms and online learning. I am working hard with the Croatian Presidency to set up similar meetings with Culture and Sport Ministers. In the meantime, to help ensure continuity in education and training activities, we have launched a webpage gathering the wide range of online learning resources available online. I hope you will find it useful!
Finally, I want this monthly update to be a useful reference for readers during the current emergency and in the future. The newsletter is a team effort from colleagues working across departments to bring you the latest information. We would welcome your feedback on the aspects of my portfolio that you would like to see more of in this medium, so if you have suggestions please get in touch with my office.
With best wishes for the coming weeks,
New support for coronavirus research
Ongoing actions to tackle the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus
Preparedness and response to outbreaks
Research infrastructures and resources
Innovative Medicines Initiative projects
European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership
Citizen science responses to the coronavirus
The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19. We are taking resolute action to reinforce our public health sectors and mitigate the socio-economic impact in the European Union. We are mobilising all means at our disposal to help our Member States coordinate their national responses and are providing objective information about the spread of the virus and effective efforts to contain it.
President von der Leyen has established a Coronavirus response team at political level to coordinate our response to the pandemic
During these times of crisis, across the European Union, countries, regions and cities are stretching out a helping hand to neighbours and assistance is given to those most in need: donations of protective equipment such as masks, cross-border treatments of ill patients and bringing stranded citizens home. This is European solidarity at its best.
Areas of the Commission’s response
Tweets from the European Commission
Les Académies nationales de Médecine et de Pharmacie constatent, au vu des données actuelles de la science, que la démonstration de l’efficacité clinique de l’hydroxychloroquine n’est pas faite à ce jour. Des présomptions existent cependant, en particulier la négativation de la charge virale d’un certain nombre de patients, qui justifient sa prise en considération par la mise en œuvre urgente d’essais cliniques afin de tester ce produit sur des critères cliniques.
L’Académie nationale de Médecine considère que la libération par les pouvoirs publics de l’hydroxychloroquine pour les malades hospitalisés en détresse respiratoire ne saurait être une réponse adaptée pour des patients dont la charge virale est, à ce stade, le plus souvent inexistante et dont la maladie n’est plus une virose stricto sensu mais une défaillance pulmonaire (syndrome de détresse respiratoire aigu) liée à l’inflammation induite par le Sars-CoV-2.
Les Académies nationales de médecine et de pharmacie considèrent que l’essai européen Discovery dont la méthodologie répond aux critères internationaux de bonne pratique des essais cliniques, permettra de déterminer si l’hydroxychloroquine ou d’autres molécules antivirales ont une efficacité chez les patients Covid-19.
Mais, au-delà des débats en faveur ou en défaveur de l’hydroxychloroquine à utiliser dans tel ou tel stade de la maladie, les Académies nationales de médecine et de pharmacie s’inquiètent :
It is likely that every country on the planet will be required to deal with the acute risk of the COVID-19 virus. The decisions governments make will directly impact the wellbeing and the future of almost everyone alive today. The actions that take place at the interface between science and policy will be critical in the immediate response and also the long lead time of recovery.
That is why INGSA is calling on its members to contribute to a knowledge base from which we can draw the lessons that have to come from this situation. There will be a range of ways that you can contribute and we are also interested in hearing your proposals for other ways this information can be collected, sythesised and analysed.