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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

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. Read more

Influence of DNA on behaviour and well-being during corona crisis increasing

DNA

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

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.
Read more

Face masks reduce emotion-recognition accuracy and perceived closeness

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?.
Read more

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)

Citizens Eems-Dollard region discuss impact of COVID-19 crisis

Together with German partners from the Jade Hochschule and Universität Vechta, the University of Groningen is launching a project on the impact of the coronapandemic on the daily lives of citizens in the German-Dutch border region. Virtual meetings will take place in which citizens will exchange their opinions.
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.
Read more

UMCG to study potential coronavirus vaccine: volunteers sought

Akstonbio

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.
Read more

Lifelines: one year on

16 March - Exactly one year ago, on 16 March 2020, the large, northern Lifelines Corona study was launched. Two weeks later, the first Corona questionnaire was sent out, and many more followed. Thanks to the thousands of participants, we now have a wealth of research data.

Read more (article in Dutch)

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.
Read more

More and more nursing home staff suffer from burnout symptoms

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.
Read more

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.
Read more

Mental health at lowest ebb since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Lude Franke (Lifelines)
Lude Franke (Lifelines)

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

Handover

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.
Read more

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.
Read more

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

Lifelines Corona Research overview of 2020

In March 2020 the large Northern Lifelines Corona research came into being. Our research now runs for nine months and the first results are known. Read more

Cisca Wijmenga on Lifelines

Dutch people think very differently about corona measures and vaccination

Coronabarometer.nl from Lifelines provides insight into the viewpoints of different population groups.

8 December - The Dutch think very differently about what sensible corona measures are and deal with them very differently. This is apparent from the large-scale Lifelines Corona Research. Since March, 40,000 participants have already completed 15 extensive questionnaires. The results can be seen on the renewed CoronaBarometer.nl.

It is shown that the connection with others is declining sharply, especially among highly educated people. In addition, men are much more willing to be vaccinated than women.
Read more

One in five nursing home employees suffers from burn-out symptoms

Eén op de vijf medewerkers in een verpleeghuis suffers from despression (19%) and burn-out (22%). Especially the employees who had to care for residents with Covid-19 often experience depressive symptoms.
Read more

Why SARS-CoV-2 spreads much faster than SARS-CoV and why different populations respond differently to the virus

Dr. Muhamed Amin (UCG)
Dr. Muhamed Amin (UCG)

Dr. Muhamed Amin (University College Groningen) and collaborators from British University in Egypt have used computer simulation to explain the strong spread of SARS-CoV-2 compared to SARS-CoV, which appeared in 2003. The simulations show that the electrostatic attraction between the cell and the virus is stronger for SARS-CoV-2 due to few mutations in the protein responsible for binding the cell. This study has been published in the Journal of physical chemistry letters of the American Chemical Society.
Read more (publication)

Furthermore, computer simulations also showed that different populations respond differently to the virus due to the mutations in the cell receptors. For example, the simulations show that the virus binds tighter to the cell in European than African population. This study has been published in Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports.
Read more (publication)

RNA structures of coronavirus reveal potential drug targets

Part of schematics RNA research
Part of schematics RNA research

10 November - The SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome structure was studied in detail by researchers from the University of Groningen, the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, and Leiden University. The RNA structures are potential targets for the development of drugs against the virus.

The study, coordinated by UG Dr Danny Incarnato, involved RNA structure probing to obtain single-base resolution secondary structure maps of the full SARS-CoV-2 genome both in vitro and in living infected cells. Importantly, this is the first time that the structure of the entire coronavirus RNA (one of the longest viral RNAs with approximately 30,000 nucleotides) was determined.

The results were published on 10 November as ‘Breakthrough paper’ in the journal Nucleic Acid Research.
Read more

Corona booklet AJSPH - time capsule of the first wave

Booklet AJSPH

20 October - For the AJSPH, the corona period is a special time. As a School of Public Health, we have therefore chosen to focus our energy on supporting the public debate, underpinning and designing policy and initiating new research through the knowledge and expertise of the University of Groningen, UMCG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Coordinators and fellows of the AJSPH have been continuously visible in the public debate. The reflections of these researchers are bundled into a booklet, a a time capsule of the first wave.
Read more
More Corona Blogs

First responses to the coronavirus pandemic are lessons for the second wave and the climate crisis

13 October - The sometimes powerful responses of citizens and governments at the start of the coronavirus pandemic could be a good starting point when it comes to battling global crises such as the environmental and climate crisis, and possibly the second wave of the coronavirus.
Thijs Bouman and Stevin Prize winner Linda Steg (both UG) and Thomas Dietz (Michigan State University) argued in their publication in Nature Sustainability that personal standards play an important role in displaying prosocial behaviour.
Read more

Not enough savings ro ride out the pandemic

Dirk Bezemer

5 October 2020 - A lot of families and companies do not have enough savings to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. Economist Dirk Bezemer is a worried man. ‘Dramatic situations will develop when the government support packages are discontinued. If we don’t change our economy and financial system now, the multinationals will be protected while families on social assistance won’t.’
Read more

Earlier news articles
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:11 June 2021 1.01 p.m.
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