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Novo Nordisk Fonden supports 11 new, important projects in connection with the coronavirus epidemic

Following the recent publication of its decision to support six important projects, the Novo Nordisk Foundation announces another 11 grants in connection with the coronavirus epidemic in Denmark. The 11 new projects amount to a total of DKK 23 million.

The new projects will, among other things, focus on:

  • Establishing a national infrastructure for collecting biological samples.
  • Examining how the coronavirus epidemic affects women during pregnancy and labour as well as newborns.
  • Development, testing and fast-track implementation of a national chatbot for questions related to COVID-19.
  • Using wireless glucose meters to provide hospital staff with real-time monitoring of blood glucose levels among COVID-19 infected patients.
  • Mapping the extent of mental illness related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foundation will provide regular updates on the grants that have been given under this emergency programme. The applicants must be based at public institutions or authorities or private non-profit organizations in Denmark that are involved in combating the coronavirus epidemic. The next round of grants will be announced in a few days.

The Foundation’s support for projects relating to the coronavirus epidemic now comes to a total of DKK 42.3 million.

See earlier grants awarded for coronavirus-related projects here.

Read more about the 11 most recent projects below.

Clinical testing of low dosage cortisone treatment (applicable beyond COVID-19), Rigshospitalet: DKK 5,000,000
The project will enable Danish hospitals to examine if the use of cortisone for treating inflammations can help patients with COVID-19. The support for this project has been awarded outside of the emergency support programme. Read more about the project here.

Acute national research infrastructure for collecting blood samples for COVID-19, Statens Serum Institut: DKK 3,608,000
The project will establish an immediate, broad and national COVID-19 collaboration over the next six months, in order to collect diagnostic blood samples from hospitals across all of Denmark. The purpose is to build a unique research infrastructure with 500,000 biological samples from all types of patients, including patients with very early stages of COVID-19 infection, patients with acute and life-threatening infections and patients who have recovered from the infection. All biological samples will be made available, free of charge, for COVID-19-related research projects within the next two years.

The effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition and angiotensin II receptor blockade on the course of acute respiratory distress syndrome in COVID-19 patients, Gentofte Hospital: DKK 3,335,000
Many of the most severely affected COVID-19 patients suffer from hypertension and/or diabetes. A majority of them take antihypertensive drugs that inhibit the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Through a randomized clinical trial and using Danish registers and databases as well as patient records, this project will determine whether it will be beneficial to continue or stop treating COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization with RAS inhibitors.

GLYCOVID-19, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, Herlev & Gentofte Hospital and Hvidovre Hospital: DKK 2,992,500
The project will investigate how COVID-19 affects the heart’s pumping function and the blood’s coagulation ability at various blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that one third of the patients who die from COVID-19 also suffer from diabetes. Changing the monitoring of glucose levels during intensive care can potentially have a negative effect on the heart’s function, especially in patients with high glucose levels prior to their admission. The project will examine diabetes patients as well as COVID-19 positive patients, both with and without diabetes, during the first 24 hours of their admission to intensive care. In addition, as many participants as possible will be examined four weeks after the emergency care has ended.

NOVO COVID-19 women in labour and newborns, Aarhus University Hospital: DKK 1,950,000
The purpose of the project is to examine a population of pregnant women and newborns while the COVID-19 epidemic is at its peak. During the current international health crisis, there is a great need to know more about COVID-19 (the disease) and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing the disease) among women who are pregnant and in labour as well as newborns. Even though pregnant women are not necessarily more susceptible to viral infections, it is well-known that the changes to their immune system and physical condition may be linked to a more severe course of illness than in non-pregnant women. The project is a follow-up study, where all pregnant women giving birth at Aarhus University Hospital and Kolding Hospital (Lillebælt Hospital) over a period of a couple of months will be included.

Fast-track implementation of an advanced web-based self-triage and assessment chatbot for COVID-19, Capital Region of Denmark’s Emergency Medical Services: DKK 1,531,827
The purpose is to develop, test and fast-track a national implementation of a chatbot for COVID-19 related questions. The primary purpose is to provide updated evidence-based online information for the citizens on how to handle COVID-19 suspect symptoms and provide relevant information on when and where to call for further medical advice or assistance. The secondary purpose is to reduce the call volume and workload on medical helplines like 1-1-2, the medical helpline 1813, out-of-hours services and the general practitioners. Finally, the chatbot will be able to deliver scientific data identifying the dissemination of COVID-19 in the general population.

Biomarkers for risk assessment of patients with COVID-19 – Interregional Biobank project, Herlev & Gentofte Hospital: DKK 1,372,200
The purpose of the project is to create a large, unselected biobank for patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19. The biobank will be used for 1) identifying and comparing established as well as experimental biomarkers for serious illness and death; and 2) building a risk model that includes one or more markers as well as clinical data. The risk model can be used to assess which patients are at risk of serious illness and which patients will require less intensive monitoring, possibly from their homes. The project is a prospective cohort study.

Remote glucose monitoring of patients isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic, Department of Endocrinology & Nephrology, Nordsjællands Hospital:  DKK 1,105,755
The purpose of the project is to provide hospital staff with real-time insights into the development of blood glucose levels in COVID-19 patients and isolated diabetes patients through wireless glucose meters transmitting continual readings. Normally, hospitalized patients have their glucose level measured five times a day using traditional point-of-care equipment. Remote glucose monitoring of patients will reduce the need for protective equipment and save staff resources, and it enables fast intervention if the glucose level is either too high or too low.

Mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aarhus University Psychiatric Hospital: DKK 1,050,000
The project will map the extent of mental illness related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that the pandemic will have a negative effect on persons who live with or are at risk of developing mental illness. The first results will be available after approximately two weeks, and the project will therefore provide valuable information that can be used to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

Establishment of temporary emergency shelter and soup kitchen for socially marginalized citizens in the city of Aarhus, the Danish Red Cross: DKK 730,000
The purpose of the project is to provide emergency accommodation and meals for the most vulnerable citizens in Aarhus. The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on social gatherings have had a dramatic effect on the living conditions for Aarhus’ socially marginalized citizens. Existing shelters have had to reduce their capacity, while some drop-in centres have closed altogether. Due to the risk of infection and the implemented restrictions on social gatherings, there is shortage of emergency accommodation and provision of meals under the current circumstances. To address this situation, the project will establish a temporary emergency shelter and a soup kitchen in Aarhus. The project is run by a consortium consisting of Danish Red Cross, DanChurchSocial, Blue Cross Denmark and The Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark (Folkekirken).

Psychological consequences of COVID-19 among patients and their next of kin in Denmark, Rigshospitalet and the University of Copenhagen: DKK 378,000
The purpose of the project is to uncover the psychological consequences of COVID-19. It is commonly known that during epidemics, there may be a rise in the occurrence of negative psychological reactions, observable among half of the exposed population. Through an interview survey, the project will examine people’s experience of being at risk of COVID-19, of being infected with the disease, as well as how it feels to have a next of kin who is seriously ill or who dies as a result of COVID-19. The project will describe the psychological reactions among patients and their next of kin and propose measures for mitigating the psychological consequences.

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, [email protected], +45 3067 4805