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Research Corona science news

Our scientists and the corona crisis

Researchers from the UG are sharing their knowledge and doing extensive research into COVID-19 and the corona crisis from many different angles. Here is a selection of articles about recent research.
Visit Aletta Jacobs School of public health for their COVID-19 blogs

UMCG and UG take part in European project on accelerating vaccine development

logo European Vaccine Initiative

1 September - A multidisciplinary team of researchers from 11 different countries are starting a project on speeding up the development of vaccines. Researchers from the University of Groningen (UG) and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) will study whether miniature lungs (‘mini-lungs’) can be deployed in a propagator to predict which vaccines work well against respiratory infections such as the flu.
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Psycorona: what have we learned so far?

2 Augustus - In Spring 2020, the PsyCorona project was launched as part of a global community-driven effort to study psychological responses to COVID-19. The project involved an international collaboration of psychological scientists and members of the community, as we all experienced the pandemic and sought to understand our collective reactions to it. Volunteers completed the surveys, researchers analyzed the data, wrote reports, and submitted those reports for peer-review at scientific journals.

Although the work is ongoing, the researchers have already gained insights and published some results. You can read the details on the Results section of the PsyCorona website.
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Rethinking Remdesivir for COVID-19: A Bayesian Reanalysis of Trial Findings

The use of remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19 has been authorized for use in parts of the world, including the Netherlands and Europe. Early authorizations were largely based on results from two clinical trials; a third study was deemed inconclusive. We conducted a reanalysis of all available evidence using Bayesian statistics, allowing interpretation of the seemingly inconclusive results.

Overall, we conclude evidence for the efficacy of remdesivir against symptoms of COVID-19 is ambiguous at best: in different contexts such evidence would not be enough to judge efficacy.

Read the publication in PLOS ONE - Hoek, J. M., Field, S. M., de Vries, Y. A., Linde, M., Pittelkow, M., Muradchanian, J., & van Ravenzwaaij, D. (2020, July 30). Rethinking Remdesivir for COVID-19: A Bayesian Reanalysis of Trial Findings

Lifelines Corona study: little enthusiasm for holidays abroad

holiday beach

1 July - We are still cautious when it comes to planning holidays this summer. This was shown by the Lifelines Corona survey of almost 30,000 participants who were asked about their holiday plans at the end of May. Just over half (56%) said they would go on holiday this summer, but only 18% planned to go abroad.

France remains the most popular holiday destination among the Dutch (23%). Germany follows with 16%, Italy and Spain close the top three with both 11%. The choice of countries is somewhat remarkable as France and Spain were still code orange at the time of the survey and therefore had a negative travel advice and a quarantine obligation upon return home.
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Corona crisis has lasting effects on news consumption

News consumption

09 June - News and journalism offer something to hold on to in uncertain times. Initially, television news, newspapers and news sites broke record after record after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the early 2020s. But are such new news habits permanent?
Although for most people the peak in news consumption was temporary, there are groups for whom journalism has become part of their system.
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Influence of DNA on behaviour and well-being during corona crisis increasing


08 June - As the Dutch became more self-reliant during the corona crisis, the extent to which DNA influences our behaviour and well-being has increased. People who have different genetic predispositions cope with the corona crisis differently.
For example, people with an increased genetic predisposition to neuroticism more often experience fear of vaccinations, and genetic predisposition to depression has an effect on reported fatigue over the past year. Read more

New study shows: one in five people believe fake news about COVID-19

Fake news

01 June - Does eating garlic protect you from the coronavirus? Can houseflies infect you with it? Does COVID-19 only affect the elderly?

Based on newly published research from Boudewijn de Bruin (RUG), Mark Alfano (Macquarie University (Sydney)) and Marco Meyer (University Harmburg), one in five adults accepts these and other medical myths linked to the pandemic. Read more

UMCG participates in a worldwide study into the consequences of the pandemic for pregnancy care

19 May - The UMCG is participating in a large global study to investigate how the care for and the experience of pregnancy was during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnant or recently delivered women and their partners.
Read more (Dutch)

New website for lonely people

'loneliness across cultures' logo
'loneliness across cultures' logo

17 May - The website 'Loneliness across cultures' was launched this month. It has around 40 video clips in which 42 people from India, Egypt, Israel, Bulgaria and Austria share their personal knowledge about loneliness - about its definition, reasons, and remedies. This website can help you understand your own or others’ loneliness better, make you realize that occasionally feeling lonely is as normal as occasionally feeling sad, and show you that you are never alone with your loneliness.
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Face masks reduce emotion-recognition accuracy and perceived closeness

Child with mask

26 April - Protective face masks have become omnipresent in public life. People wear them when grocery shopping, when sitting on the bus, and when interacting with others at their work. While the medical benefits of face masks are clear, whether and how face masks influence the dynamics of our interactions with others is only poorly understood. Many people feel that face masks make it harder to know what others are feeling, or whether others can be trusted. But is this actually true?.
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One in ten young children did not play with friends during elementary school closure


April 15 - During the closure of elementary schools, 11% of these young children did not play with children outside their own families. In addition, 1 in 3 parents often did not understand the lessons of groep 8. This was shown in the Lifelines Corona study by the University of Groningen and the UMCG. It provides insight into how more than 2,000 families with children of elementary school age experienced the period of homeschooling.
Read more (Dutch)

Study with Lifelines data into the transmission of the coronavirus within households

25 March - How is it possible in many cases that when someone contracts the coronavirus, their family members do not become infected? The RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) will use data from the Lifelines coronavirus study to research how the transmission of the coronavirus within families works. To this end, the antibodies in the blood of 500 families in the Northern Netherlands will be studied.
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UMCG to study potential coronavirus vaccine: volunteers sought


18 March - The UMCG is going to study a potential COVID-19 vaccine: the AKS-452 vaccine produced by Akston Biosciences in the United States. The goal of the study is to research the safety and tolerability of and the reaction of the immune system to the vaccine. For the study, the UMCG is looking for 176 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 65 who are willing to be vaccinated with the potential vaccine.
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Will the Vaccination Passport be the way out of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Vaccination passport

12 March - Israel is one of the first countries worldwide to implement a COVID-19 vaccination passport - the ‘Green Pass’ – which allows its possessors to enjoy a relatively normal life with visits to restaurants, bars, and cinemas. Countries such as Denmark and Germany are working on their digital versions of a vaccination passport. However, there is a global discussion going on about the implementation of such vaccination passports. In their article, Dr Oskar Josef Gstrein, Prof. Dimitry Vladimirovich Kochenov and Prof. Andrej Zwitter research the opportunities and drawbacks of the ‘passportization’ approach to governing the current health emergency.
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More and more nursing home staff suffer from burnout symptoms

Medical personel

12 March - One in three nursing home employees who care for residents with Covid-19 suffers from burnout symptoms. This number has increased significantly during the corona pandemic.
Read more (article in Dutch)

Patients who test positive for COVID-19 should postpone operations to reduce the risk of mortality

11 March - A very significant number of international studies indicate that if possible, operations planned for patients who test positive for COVID-19 should be postponed for seven weeks. These patients appear to be two-and-a-half times more likely to die after an operation if the procedure takes place within the first six weeks of having tested positive. Over 140,000 patients in almost 1,700 hospitals worldwide took part in this study, including seventeen hospitals in the Netherlands.
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The new SARS-CoV-2 strain shows a stronger binding affinity to ACE2 due to N501Y mutant

2 March - Using computer simulation UG-researcher Muhamed Amin and his colleagues show that the new strain of COVID19 has tighter binding to the cell receptors due to a mutation in the binding site of the virus S-protein. This could explain the ability of the new stain to spread much faster than the wild type.
Read the article on sciencedirect

Danny Incarnato (Photo: D. Incarnato)
Danny Incarnato (Photo: D. Incarnato)

New technique reveals switches in RNA

Structural switches could be targets to fight coronavirus

22 February - Scientists at the UG, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Torino (Italy), have developed a method to visualize and quantify alternative structures of RNA molecules. These alternative RNA ‘shapes’ can have important functional relevance in viruses and bacteria. The researchers used an algorithm to rapidly analyse large quantities of chemically modified RNA molecules and calculate how many differently folded conformations were present. This technique was used to identify a conserved structural switch in the RNA of SARS-CoV-2.
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Mental health at lowest ebb since the start of the coronavirus pandemic


3 February - Our quality of life is now the worst it has been since the start of the coronavirus pandemic: people in the Northern Netherlands currently give their life a score of 6.9. Last summer, this was 7.7 and at the start of the pandemic, it was 7.4.
In addition, feelings of solidarity have slumped in the Netherlands: less than half of the population feel as if they are in this together, compared with 70% in March 2020.
Read more about this Lifelines study

University Museum receives first Groningen vaccine ampoule and syringe


03 February - On 6 January, UMCG nurse Harm Wedman was the first person in Groningen to be administered the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus. This was a historic moment. Today, the University Museum will take custody of the ampoule, the syringe and several other objects that were used for the first Groningen vaccination.
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Study into the effect of COVID-19 vaccines in vulnerable groups

26 January - Transplant patients, patients with immune disorders and cancer patients are among the vulnerable groups for whom COVID-19 can be especially dangerous. An efficacious and safe vaccine is therefore extremely important for these vulnerable people. UMCG researchers study the effect of COVID-19 vaccines on kidney, lung transplant and cancer patients. For this, they will be granted approx. 7.2 million Euro from ZonMw.
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UG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences start pilot rapid testing centre with help from Noorderpoort students

Aletta Jacobs hal

13 January -As from Monday 18 January, the University of Groningen (UG), Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanze UAS) and Noorderpoort will pilot a rapid testing centre at Zernike Campus with the aim of investigating how more in-person teaching activities could be possible in the short term during the coronavirus pandemic. Groningen is the first city in the Netherlands to run such a pilot project. Students of the UG and Hanze UAS who are enrolled for an on-site examination will be invited to take a rapid test before their exam.
Read more

Earlier news articles
December 2020 Lifelines Corona Research overview of 2020
8 December Dutch people think very differently about corona measures and vaccination
30 November One in five nursing home employees suffers from burn-out symptoms
November 2020 Why SARS-CoV-2 spreads much faster than SARS-CoV and why different populations respond differently to the virus (publication)
10 November NA structures of coronavirus reveal potential drug targets
20 October Corona booklet AJSPH - time capsule of the first wave
19 October COVID-19 once again proves the importance of ICU cafés
13 October First responses to the coronavirus pandemic are lessons for the second wave and the climate crisis
5 October Not enough savings ro ride out the pandemic
4 September Ethical framework for equitable global COVID-19 vaccine distribution
1 September UG researchers will look at Covid-19 impact on hospital staff’s well-being
27 August Substantial € 450,000 subsidy for UMCG research into role of overweight in COVID-19 cases
24 August UG researchers help improve coordination around ICU bed utilization
11 August More often complications in kidney patients with corona
August Virus assembly has been filmed
20 July Northern Netherlands carefully anticipating second wave
10 July New Open Access review on Sars-CoV-2 in Chem
29 June National research into the effects of corona in nursing homes
22 June Scientists identify potential drug target in the new coronavirus
19 June Ernst ziektebeloop COVID-19 deels erfelijk bepaald (dutch blog)
Mid June Preclinical tests on novel Covid-19 vaccines Program
08 June Leadership during the crisis: masculine or feminine leader?
02 June Apps to trace COVID-19? Let’s get it right with lessons from humanitarian work
02 June Two months and 1 million more answers: the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Northerners
20 May Martini Hospital and the UG are working together on innovative application for planning ‘1.5-metre care’ for outpatients
14 May Mortality from the corona pandemic
29 April Large study on happiness among Dutch children and young people
23 April Key nose cells identified as likely COVID-19 virus entry points
20 April Plea for a future-proof health system
16 April Using Location Data to control the Coronavirus Pandemic
15 April Connecting experts from around the world online
07 April The psychological impact of the coronavirus crisis
30 March Major research in the Northern Netherlands into risk factors for coronavirus
20 March UG and UMCG researchers investigate corona inhaler
16 March Coronavirus breaking the law?

Last modified:28 September 2021 11.18 a.m.
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