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The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards six grants in the last round of its emergency coronavirus programme

The Novo Nordisk Foundation announces six new grants for coronavirus-related projects across the Danish Realm. The total funding for the new projects amounts to DKK 7.8 million.

With the latest grants, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a total of DKK 74.9 million for 43 projects which in the short term may help to mitigate the health-related consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic across the Danish Realm.

The emergency programme is now closed for applications, and the last grants have been awarded.

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

  • developing, optimizing and scaling a clinical system for ensuring speedy and efficient referral and treatment of Danish COVID-19 patients;
  • establishing an emergency national research infrastructure for the collection of blood and tissue samples and data in the Faroe Islands; and
  • ensuring the procurement of equipment and supplementary training of staff to enable the health sector across Greenland to handle epidemic patients.

An overview of the Foundation’s coronavirus-related projects is available here.

Read more about the six most recent projects below.

CATCH (Corona Application Tool for Collaborating Hospitals) – a patient database for gaining an overview of and treating coronavirus patients, Rigshospitalet: DKK 4,940,985
The purpose of the project is to develop, optimize and scale the clinical application CATCH, which addresses an acute clinical and administrative need for effective referral, testing and treatment of citizens suspected of having contracted COVID-19 all across Denmark. The system will ensure a speedy, efficient referral of Danish COVID-19 patients, avoiding bottlenecks in the healthcare system and overload situations in individual hospitals. This is achieved by continually collecting local data concerning the spread of the virus and comparing it with data on the capacity of local hospitals. Also, real-time data from electronic patient records will be obtained for COVID-19 patients who are admitted to hospital, which will help to identify the severely ill and the less seriously ill patients and provide suggestions for treatment based on clinical recommendations. Through Artificial Intelligence, the data will be used to pinpoint the most important factors contributing to severe illness. Based on this, it will be possible to generate updated risk assessments for the individual patients, from their admission and onwards.

Evaluating the prevalence and burden of rectal SARS-CoV-2 shedding in the Danish population, North Denmark Regional Hospital: DKK 950,000
The purpose of the project is to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 patients in Denmark who shed SARS-CoV-2 rectally. Based on earlier studies from China, it is expected that SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in stool samples or rectal swabs in more than 50% of Danish COVID-19 patients. All patients who are referred to North Denmark Regional Hospital and the Children’s Ward at Aalborg University Hospital will – in addition to receiving a throat swab – be screened for virus through a rectal swab. Furthermore, the project will monitor all admitted patients to find out for how long coronavirus is secreted through the respiratory passages as well as rectally. The project will also examine if rectal swabs can be used to reduce the number of false-negative test results and thereby minimize the risk of placing COVID-19 patients in open wards rather than isolating them.

Procurement of equipment for monitoring COVID-19 patients at regional hospitals and in villages, and upgrading of health personnel, Agency for Health and Prevention, Greenland: DKK 743,280
With its vast distances and lacking infrastructure, the geography of Greenland makes it a challenge to relocate resources within the healthcare system swiftly and according to need. Therefore, the five regional hospitals and 11 healthcare centres in Greenland must be have the necessary equipment ready in the event of local outbreaks of COVID-19. The purpose of this project is partly to ensure the procurement of extra equipment, so that the healthcare system can manage outbreaks across the entire country, and partly to ensure the necessary supplementary training of health staff so they can handle epidemic patients. Training material will be prepared in Danish as well as Greenlandic, and the healthcare services will provide the training via remote learning, so as to be able to swiftly address the challenges facing the healthcare system in the current situation.

Emergency national research infrastructure for COVID-19 at Ilegusavnið – The Faroe Islands’ National Human Genetics Resource Centre: DKK 612,305
The purpose of the project is to establish a national, broad emergency COVID-19 collaboration over the next six months, with a view to collecting diagnostic blood and tissue samples as well as data relating to COVID-19 in the Faroe Islands. The aim is to build a unique research infrastructure with biological samples and data from all types of patients, including patients with very early stages of COVID-19 infection, patients with mild symptoms, patients with acute, life-threatening infections and patients who have recovered. All the biological samples will be made available free of charge to COVID-19-related research projects for the next two years, provided that the projects have obtained the necessary permits from the Research Ethics Committee and the Faroese Data Protection Agency.

Safety of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin treatment in COVID-19 patients – a probe-COVID-trial substudy, Hvidovre Hospital: DKK 430,000
The project is a supplementary project to the research project “Proactive protection of inpatients with COVID-19 lung disease – Pro-Lung-COVID trial”, for which the University of Copenhagen and Capital Region of Denmark received a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation last month. This project will focus on examining the safety of a combined treatment using the medications hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. The purpose of this project is to safeguard the clinical applicability of this combined treatment.

Physical exercise for patients with Parkinson’s disease during the coronavirus epidemic, Parkinsonforeningen: DKK 100,000
Many people suffering from Parkinson’s disease experience that their condition improves considerably with regular – and preferably daily – physical exercise. It is important that individuals with Parkinson’s carry out exercises that alleviate their specific symptoms, and therefore they will not be able to follow general online training programmes. Parkinsonforeningen will produce a number of training videos containing exercises targeting people with Parkinson’s, and which can be performed at home. The videos will be structured according to the users’ stage of illness, so that there are exercises for people who have only had the disease for a few years as well as for long-time sufferers. The videos will be made available on YouTube, where they will remain accessible, also after the coronavirus lockdown.

Further information
Sabina Askholm Larsen, Communications Partner, tel.: +45 2367 3226, [email protected]