OECD Survey on the STI policy responses to Covid-19

 

Q5. What novel approaches, if any, is your country using to address the coronavirus crisis (e.g. use of machine learning, open science initiatives boosting access and sharing of data and research results, development and use of prediction models, etc.)?


Updated on Response
Australia 2020-04-02 The Australian Government is investing more than $2.6 million in cutting-edge diagnostics research by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, this will be directed to four strategies, including:
• A 'one-step' nucleic acid detection, which combines the current extraction of the virus from the patient sample and detection step into one. By avoiding the separate extraction of genetic material, this test saves substantially on critical lab consumables and is also very rapid, with the potential to reduce test turnaround times.
• The development of new testing protocols to enable more individuals to be tested simultaneously, while minimising the number of consumables used and maintain the current turnaround times.
• Rapidly assessing, trialing, and where relevant, validating new diagnostic test kits to ensure they are of the highest quality.
• Assessing how and when to use serology testing. Serology testing could assist with identification of asymptomatic infection, retrospective diagnosis of individuals who have recovered from infection and determining the extent of infection in a population.
Austria 2020-04-03 In Austria, there are currently numerous initiatives, both from the public and private sector, aiming at providing rapid tests, medication and vaccination. Many of those are embedded in international and European partnerships. The initiatives range from academic spin-offs using AI technology to identify agents, big data analysis on the spread of COVID-19 nationally and internationally, university networks manufacturing sanitiser through novel methods, to the social sciences addressing and supporting the current societal challenges. Since the already significant number is constantly growing, providing a representative overview is impossible at the current time.

To name one of the above mentioned initiatives, the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) has offered new calculations with regard to possible scenarios for the spread of Covid-19. Their publication is offered with the suggestion to base all predictions regarding the duration of the measures issued by the Austrian government on patients in intensive care units and deaths, rather than on infection numbers.

Another initiative that offers advice on the duration of those measures is a research team from the Technical University in Vienna and one of its spin-off companies. They published a simulation calculation that asks to keep the measures issued in place, but that from a scientific point of view at the current time, more restrictions for the general public are unlikely to have an impact. Therefore, additional measures should put their focus on targeted risk groups.
Belgium 2020-05-13 There is an increased demand for open science initiatives and a positive response to that demand.

The Flemish Supercomputer Centre (VSC) provides computing time for research on Covid-19 both for academics and companies. More information can be found at www.vscentrum.be/covid19.

In Belgium, as in most countries, postdoc evaluations are normally face-to-face, but that cannot be done for the moment. As a consequence, some Belgian universities have already decided to replace face-to-face evaluations with an online expert panel meeting.

Some Belgian innovators have also seen an opportunity in the negative side effects of social distancing measures. Since queuing and grouping at authorized locations (food stores, pharmacies, hospitals, parks, etc.) may be problematic, the Belgian company Seaters – which normally helps to distribute sponsoring tickets for sports and cultural events – has transformed its product into a Virtual Queuing System. Via that system an appointment voucher for authorized locations can be requested. Each voucher mentions an hour of visit that takes into account the social distancing rules (max. 1 person per 10 m2) and the necessary time per person (max. 30 min. for groceries, for example). The demo version of the platform can be activated nationally in 24 hours.
Brazil 2020-04-03 Artificial Intelligence, Biocomputing and high performance computing are being applied to develop research and new products. Brazilian infrastructures like CNPEN laboratories and the Santos Dumont and Ogbon Super Computers are part of the Folding@Home project, which donates computing power to run simulations and research.

Using the Santos Dumont supercomputer Brazilian researchers have sequenced 19 genomes from the COVID-19 variations present in Brazil in just 48 hours. It was possible to identify from which countries and regions of the world came the different strains of COVID-19 that reached Brazil.

Also, the call for proposals being launched with the extraordinary credit, mentioned above (Q.3), includes support for projects for large scale sequencing of viruses, use of advanced technologies (eg. AI) for medicine selection and support of clinical trials, support for advanced vaccine development platforms (eg. VLP) & Data Science projects for modeling and planning.
Canada 2020-05-08 The Government of Canada (GoC), through the Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR) and partners, mobilized to launch a COVID-19 rapid response call for proposals intended to solicit investigator-led research focused on both medical and social/policy countermeasures. CIHR is organizing a series of knowledge mobilization events to maximize the impact of these investments, support coordination, and bring the best available evidence forward to support decision-making and action. This includes a small number of targeted virtual investigator meetings to foster meaningful engagement between federally-funded researchers and relevant federal departments and agencies actively engaged in the response to COVID-19.

Within the CIHR funded projects, AI is being used to scan through thousands of approved drugs for the identification of candidates to explore further their utility and safety for treating COVID-19. To improve the provision of public health care, a CIHR funded project is developing a tool to provide precision public health. Other funded projects will be developing AI-driven tools to conduct surveillance coupled with real-time human mobility data and use social media/news data to understand how misinformation and information is provided to Canadians.

The National Collaborating Centres for Public Health synthesize, translate and share knowledge, making it useful and accessible to policy-makers, program managers and practitioners. They identify knowledge gaps, stimulate research in priority areas, and link public health researchers with practitioners to build strong practice-based networks across Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/s.... The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools hosts a repository of COVID-19 Rapid Evidence Reviews: https://www.nccmt.ca/knowledge-repositor...

Within the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), AI methodologies are being used for the extraction of surveillance data from the web and posted in the Federal Dashboard. Social media is being analysed using machine learning to detect clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks; while the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) continues to use natural language processing to monitor news information to detect emerging risks. This methodology is also starting to be explored for conducting literature reviews, to assist with the tagging of pertinent articles
Chile 2020-04-22 Data Sub – Workgroup of the Covid-19 Social Workgroup.

The COVID-19 Social Workgroup brings together government authorities, mayors, academia, and health professionals, with its main goal being to dialogue, coordinate and collaborate in the Pandemic Action

The Data Sub-Workgroup is derived from the Social Workgroup. Its objective is to make available data for predictive, scientific and clinical pandemic analysis, to contribute with evidence-based decision making.

The phases of the work are as follows:
- Phase one: to make available public epidemiological information from the Ministry of Health in standard format, with commentary, quality control and international nomenclature. Currently available at http://www.minciencia.gob.cl/covid19
- Phase two: to make available public information on transport and mobility, along with the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications.

Colombia 2020-03-28 ● MinCienciatón

One of the main initiatives taken by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia (with the support of the Colombian Ministry of Health) is the opening of the call MinCienciatón, which is an initiative to confront COVID-19 through the use of the STI. Researchers, innovators, scientists and academics are invited to participate in this call that has a budget of 26 billion COP and seven days to submit proposals through the Ministry's virtual platform. See https://minciencias.gov.co/convocatorias....

Disruptive proposals are expected that will help, for example, the interpretation of data for decision making, and technology that will facilitate the protection of healthcare personnel and patient care in mitigating symptoms. These proposals will be monitored and evaluated by panels of experts who will determine the best ideas. It is important to note that each proposal will have a funding of between 500 million COP and 2 billion COP. With this initiative, it is expected to mobilize more than 500 research groups throughout the country.

The following three modalities are contemplated for the financing of the projects:
i) Public health initiatives related to epidemiological intelligence that will make it possible to plan and act effectively in the event of epidemiological contingencies.
ii) Pre-commercial validation: evaluation of technology prototypes in relevant environments. Projects focused on the pre-commercial validation of new technologies.
iii) Commercial validation: scaling up of technologies for their validation in real operating conditions. Projects focused on the commercial validation of new technologies.

Additionally, the following lines have been established:
i) Public health related to intervention against epidemiological risks associated with COVID-19.
ii) Rapid diagnostic systems for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
iii) Strategies for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and treating COVID-19.
iv) Medical equipment and devices for the management of patients with COVID-19 and other acute respiratory infections, ensuring the safety of health professionals.
v) Systems for monitoring real-time data on illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 and other agents that cause acute respiratory infections, to facilitate decision-making

Lastly, one of the main characteristics of this call is that it is an ad hoc initiative, with rapid processes for the reception and selection of proposals (around 14 days are projected between the time the call is opened and the announcement of the results), which is a novelty for the traditional processes of the calls.
Costa Rica 2020-05-05 The country is using open science initiatives, boosting access and sharing of data and research results.

- The collaborative platform “colabcr”, an open community of people from all over the country (from the public, private sectors, academia, and civil society), shares information, design, and science initiatives with the rest of the community as open science initiatives. https://covid19.presidencia.go.cr/mes-de...

- The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) have a health Geographical Observatory that constantly shows the evolution of COVID-19 cases in Costa Rica.

- The University of Costa Rica has created an interactive digital platform to view official update data from the Ministry of Health on COVID-19 at the national and cantonal levels. http://geovision.uned.ac.cr/oges/index.h...

- A web application makes available to the public a history of confirmed and discarded cases since the start of the pandemic, which allows identifying the evolution of the virus over time. There is also a section where it is possible to visualize comparisons in the number of cases per canton. https://oddapp2.shinyapps.io/Coronavirus...
Estonia 2020-03-30 The Government of Estonia decided to close all educational institutions, except kindergartens, and has applied only digital learning solutions since 16 March. Further information can be found here (incl. FAQ): https://www.hm.ee/en/spread-covid-19-rec.... Moreover, Estonian education technology companies have offered their solutions free of charge for the international community to tackle the crisis (see: https://www.hm.ee/en/news/estonia-offers...).

Estonia put together an online hackathon HackTheCrisis (by Acclererate Estonia) to offer solutions on how to use technology for the crisis response and to deal with the post-crisis era. The action was supported by the Ministry of Economics and Communication. Now HackTheCrisis events run by local communities all over the world are popping up to help solve issues for their communities.

Other initiatives include:
• Salto Growth Camp EMERGE initiative for start-ups;
• Share Force One platform for bringing together jobs and jobless in the situation of rapid entrepreneurial changes;
• Estonian Statistics Board in cooperation with Positium, a private company preparing mobile positioning solutions, are working out a visual showing information about people’s mobility during the epidemic. The solution is designed to show both everyday short range mobility, to visualize for instance the mobility of quarantined persons, and long range mobility, to visualize, for instance, where participants have moved from an event where it is known that infected people have been.
• Non-personalized information about the infected by counties, age and sex is being provided on the Estonian Open Data Platform.

European Union 2020-06-12 Research Infrastructures
• Horizon 2020 grants access to essential Research Infrastructure (RI) services are repurposing their calls and considering stepped-up efforts to focus on COVID-19. Beyond the European Virus Archive and TRANSVAC for vaccine research, this includes other EU supported pan-European RIs: SoBigData-Plus (big data analytics); ERINHA (high-risk pathogen safety labs); ELIXIR (coordinating the storage of and access to biological data); ECRIN (clinical trials). CALIPSO-PLUS and CERIC-ERIC have set up a dedicated Fast Track Access to a selected number of analytical facilities for research related to the COVID-19.
Research data sharing
• DG R&I in close collaboration with DG SANTE, DG CONNECT and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), together with EU Member States and research partners such as ELIXIR, has launched (20 April) the European COVID-19 research data platform. This joint effort is a priority pilot to realise the goals of European Open Science Cloud and is part of the ERAvsCorona Action Plan. This will allow the scientific community to share, analyse, and process data rapidly, openly and effectively across the Member States and the globe.

• To complement the platform deployment, the EC is urging all H2020 projects working on COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 to provide immediate open access to their related publications, data and any other output. To support them, a guidance document has been developed that includes specific guidelinees regarding FAIR principles, Open Access to publications and data, etc.

• The Research Data Alliance Working Group on COVID-19 has gathered more than 300 domain and data experts from all over the world to produce a set of guidelines and recommendations for data sharing in public health emergencies to support scientific research and policy making. It covers data from 5 sub-groups focusing on essential thematic areas: Clinical, Community Participation, Epidemiology, Omics, and Social Sciences. The 5th (pre final) release of the COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines was published on 28 May and it is open for comments until 8 June. Then, after revision and endorsement by the RDA governance bodies, the final version will be published on 30 June.

• OpenAIRE, in collaboration with the EC, will provide services to help in the sharing, discovery, navigation and collaboration of the global research community. In particular, a beta version of the service (operational) has now been released to serve as a single entry point for research results (publications, data, and software) for COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2. This service is linked to the other data sharing initiatives

• The European Open Science Cloud Secretariat has introduced a fast-track procedure to apply for funding, specifically dedicated to activities related to COVID-19 in the area of Open Science and research data sharing. The deadline for applications is on 12 June.

Platform to share Information
• DG SANTE’s Health Policy Platform - In order to facilitate easy communication between researchers on initial and unconfirmed observations, a moderated space called “researchers chat” (with restricted access) was set up on DG SANTE’s Health Policy Platform. This allows low-threshold exchange between researchers from different projects, promoting also interdisciplinary connections.

• The European Commission launched (14 May) the new European Research Area (ERA) corona platform. The ERA corona platform is a one-stop shop for information for current and prospective beneficiaries of the R&I Programmes The platform provides useful information, dedicated support and real-time updates on funding opportunities for coronavirus related research and innovation. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the scientific community is facing unprecedented challenges in the search for solutions against coronavirus. Good coordination and quick mobilisation of funds are essential to help our researchers and innovators meet those challenges.

Pan-EU Hackathon
• The European Commission under the patronage of Cssr Mariya Gabriel, in close collaboration with EU member states, host an online Pan-EU Hackathon April 24 -26 (#EUvsVirus) to connect civil society, innovators, partners and buyers across Europe to develop innovative solutions to overcome coronavirus-related challenges. The ‘Winning’ solutions in each challenge area were announced (April 30) here. Winners were invited to a Matchathon that took place 22 - 25 May on the new EIC COVID Platform was created to facilitate connections with end users, such as hospitals, and provide access to investors, foundations and other funding opportunities from across the EU.

Seal of Excellence
• On 8 May, the European Commission granted the first batch of the EIC COVID-19 Response Seal of Excellence to 82 excellent proposals addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. On 4 June, after the final selection, the second batch of COVID-19 related seals was granted to 57 COVID related Seal proposals making a total of 139 COVID-19 seals with a total amount of support of EUR 384 million. The proposals were submitted under European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot (March 20 cut-off). The Seal certificate, co-signed now by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, and by Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, is addressed to excellent proposals from the EIC Accelerator call which have been evaluated worth of funding but for which Horizon Europe does not have enough resources in the call.

Ethics
• One of the main obstacles to the speedy launch of clinical trials being the slow and complex approval by the appropriate committees, the Commission is asking projects to raise any issues they may encounter in this respect and encouraging Member States to look into these issues by priority. European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) Statement on European solidarity and the protection of fundamental rights in the COVID-19 pandemic (2 April).The EGE calls for a rallying of solidarity at the European and global level and underlines the core ethical considerations that must shape the pathway out of the pandemic.
Finland 2020-05-21 OECD Secretariat additions (30 March 2020):
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has produced, in cooperation with Esri Finland Oy, an open map application (http://www.thl.fi/koronakartta ; https://experience.arcgis.com/experience... ) based on the data from the National Infectious Diseases Register to present the confirmed cases in Finland as well as their prevalence (number of cases per 100,000 residents in the hospital district).
France 2020-05-25 The Research Analysis and Expertise Committee (CARE) (see Q1.) Is setting up an idea box, in digital format, to be deployed very quickly across the entire research community (to date, March 26).
Germany 2020-04-06 Given the highly dynamic situation we are currently not aware of specific novel technical approaches.

OECD Secretariat additions (30 March 2020):
The Federal Government co-sponsored a 48-hour virtual Covid-19 hackathon on 20-22 March 2020 (WirVsVirus, https://wirvsvirushackathon.org/) aimed at developing solutions to problems related to the Covid-19 crisis (e.g. How to organise neighbourhood assistance through helper platforms? How to track corona-infected, tested and recovered persons?). It had over 40,000 participants that worked on 810 projects organized around 49 themes.
Greece 2020-05-07 A detailed analysis of the most important R&D activities related to COVID 19 in the Greek research centers and Universities is given below:

HELLENIC PASTEUR INSTITUTE
The Hellenic Pasteur Institute (HPI) - recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), a member of the European Reference Laboratory Network for Human Influenza (ECDCERLI-Net) and a member of the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS-WHO) - has been designated as National Reference Center for SARS-CoV-2 detection.
In the context of its mission to promote scientific knowledge and innovation, HPI has launched research studies seeking to understand the mode of action, pathogenetic mechanisms and epidemiology of this novel coronavirus, and develop new diagnostic tools and treatment methods.
Building on the well-established know-how and experience on infectious diseases of its internationally renowned research departments of Microbiology, Immunology and Neurobiology, and Reference Laboratories for infectious diseases, the HPI has planned the following actions:
1. Banking of clinical samples from patients infected with SARS- CoV-2 (use and further development of existing bank).
2. Development, modelling and certification of antibody detection tests for SARS-CoV-2 to monitor buildup of immunity in the population and the factors having an influence on it; isolation and identification of neutralizing antibodies from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 and development of diagnostic methodologies, e.g. seroneutralisation, to detect specific immunity. For this Action, the HPI will collaborate closely with the Pasteur Institute in Paris, a globally recognized leader in infectious diseases research.
3. Study of the virological profile, and investigation for presence of defective SARS-CoV-2 forms in serum samples or smears from recovered or deceased patients. This action is expected to contribute to the laboratory assessment of disease outcome in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients.
4. Study of SARS-CoV-2 patients’ immune response using traditional immunological methods as well as next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology. There are already experimental data that SARS-CoV-2 triggers a specific immune response, which differs from that of other related viruses. Viral infection has dramatic effects on the gene expression profile, primarily of immune-system cells. This HPI projects aims at developing specialized treatments for patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
5. Sequencing of the virus genome based on patient samples with a view to studying the molecular evolution of the virus in the Greek population and correlating mutations/polymorphisms with severity of the disease in order to identify highly pathogenic strains. Our goal is to analyze a large number of samples from SARS-CoV-2 patients in Greece in order to achieve full characterization of viral genomes, their host heterogeneity and create a map of the virus spread using phylogeographical analysis.
6. Study of SARS-CoV-2 interaction with human nerve cells and its effects on the brain. It has been found that a percentage of severely affected patients experience neurological problems. Most recent data show that SARS-CoV-2 may invade the central nervous system in multiple ways.

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH CENTRE (BSRC) “ALEXANDER FLEMING”
With public health as one of its top priorities, BSRC Fleming supports the National Health System and the community by engaging in three specific actions to support diagnostic and research approaches against COVID-19:
• Participating in efforts to detect the virus in biological samples using the Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) facilities available at the Center: BSRC Fleming possesses the necessary technological infrastructure to support diagnostic tests and to participate in the improvement of existing, or the development of new, tests that will address immunity against SARS-CoV-2.
• Supporting research aimed at understanding viral pathology, by providing experimental animal models that are relevant to SARS-CoV-2 infection, inflammation and the neurotropism of the virus. Specifically, Fleming can provide pre-existing animal models or, based on emerging needs from current clinical studies of the virus, generate novel animal models through its specialized units. Additionally, utilizing platforms for the identification of clinical, cellular and molecular markers it can undertake the characterization of underlying clinical, genetic and epigenetic factors that are associated with susceptibility or resistance to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
• Providing technical expertise and the necessary bioinformatics tools required to analyse viral genetic material in the Greek population towards identification of potential variants associated with increased transmission or virulence. In addition, the Center can apply combinatorial bioinformatic methods on data from patient sample analyses to discover biological markers of the disease, as well as aid in drug repurposing. BSRC Fleming’s researchers are already collaborating with international teams in basic research projects to discover therapeutic targets by modelling and analysing viral – host protein interaction networks. All data from these actions will be freely available to the scientific community in order to accelerate research against COVID-19.
• At the European level, Fleming participates in efforts to tackle the pandemic as coordinator of two National Research Infrastructures, InfrafrontierGR and ELIXIR-GR, and as a core partner of their respective European networks INFRAFRONTIER and ELIXIR, that are already engaged in actions against COVID-19. Additional information is provided at the following links:
https://www.infrafrontier.eu/knowledgeba... ,
https://elixir-europe.org/news/covid-19-....

BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION OF THE ACADEMY OF ATHENS (BRFAA)
The Academy of Athens emphasizes that successfully addressing the pandemic and implementing a crisis exit strategy necessitates intensive research efforts to understand the biology and epidemiology of the virus, and to develop treatments and vaccines. The Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA), acknowledging the critical character of the situation, contributes to this effort with its specialized scientific staff and state-of-the-art research facilities. More specifically, BRFAA:
a) has launched a molecular diagnostic testing initiative for detection of the virus in the population;
b) is monitoring biomarkers of inflammation and immune response in order to select the appropriate treatment for patients in intensive-care units;
c) has planned surveys on immunity buildup in the population through detection of neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2;
d) is currently modelling biological material collections from COVID-19 patients, in order to conduct studies aimed at understanding the molecular evolution of the virus in the Greek population and the interaction of the virus with human cells to identify new drug targets; and
e) explores the connection between the global effects of the coronavirus crisis and the prevailing climate-environmental conditions, in collaboration with the Research Centre for Atmospheric Physics and Climatology (RCAPC) of the Academy of Athens.
Moreover, the Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics (RCPAM) of the Academy of Athens, a BRFAA partner, has developed reliable predictive models of virus spread, which will be useful for planning long-term pandemic management. Collaborating BRFAA develops animal models to study infection and inflammation in order to understand the pathogenic mechanism of viral infection.
Regarding treatment of COVID-19 patients, the competent members of the Academy of Athens, particularly intensive-care specialists, offer valuable medical guidance to the medical and nursing staff to address the pandemic.

NATIONAL CENTRE FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH (NCSR) “DEMOKRITOS”
Virus Detection
• The NCSR “Demokritos” provides infrastructure and develops appropriate methodologies for conducting virus detection tests in biological fluids, to help control the virus spread.
Antibody Detection – Qualitative Assessment of Immunity
• Development of biosensors for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in blood samples in collaboration with ThetaMetrisis (a NCSR “Demokritos” spin-off). Having already developed and patented optical-sensor technological platforms for critical inflammation markers directly related to COVID-19 disease, the NCSR “Demokritos” is currently evaluating these sensors with a view to achieving rapid, accurate and simultaneous identification of IgG/IgM antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in patient serum. Following completion of their preclinical and clinical evaluation, it will soon be possible to standardize the sensors in order to be able to cover the country’s needs.
• Development and production of innovative diagnostic kits for qualitative assessment of population immunity by a “Lefkippos” Attica Technology Park company in collaboration with “Demokritos” research laboratories. The main competitive advantage of this kit, which is currently in the final stages of production, is the simultaneous measurement of many immunity parameters, resulting to less false-positive results. Next steps are the final qualitative assessment of the kit to be conducted after the imminent reception of patient samples, and the file submission to the Greek National Organisation of Medicines (EOF). Following completion of clinical results, the diagnostic kits could become available to accredited centres in Greece which will be able to measure population immunity at a low-cost. At the same time, discussions are under way for potentially making the kit available internationally.
New Experimental Treatments
• Participation in multidisciplinary team of researchers, immunologists and clinical experts from the USA, Italy and Germany responsible for designing a clinical trial to evaluate a new experimental treatment for COVID-19 patients. The study will be coordinated by Greek pharmaceutical start-up Amyndas Pharmaceuticals and will assess whether the targeted inhibition of the complement system, a key component of innate immunity, can limit uncontrollable inflammation resulting in acute respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients.
Research Actions
• Research action to study the way antigenic peptides are generated from SARS-CoV-2 proteins, based on prior knowledge of the mechanisms used by the immune system to recognize infected cells. This action seeks to reveal important aspects of the human body defense mechanism against SARS-CoV-2 and find new ways to boost it.
• Design and development of SARS-CoV-2 protein inhibitors to prevent virus replication.
• Participation in the epidemiological study, coordinated by the GSRT, involving SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing and genetic analysis of patients. This study, to be conducted by a partnership of research laboratories, will produce important databases which, combined with similar international initiatives, will be a springboard to innovative computational studies using Artificial Intelligence. The NCSR ”Demokritos” will be responsible for development of the data management and analytics system.
Digital Applications
• Implementation of the BioASQ project, coordinated by NCSR “Demokritos”, which organises international competitions (challenges) for systems of biomedical information retrieval and automatic answering of relevant scientific questions from databases. In this context and with a view to promoting scientific research on COVID-19 disease, “Demokritos” launches a challenge which will use the AI software tools of the BioASQ project to answer scientific questions on the coronavirus. Through this process, our goal is to facilitate understanding of COVID-19 and contribute to finding new solutions.
• Utilization of the NCSR “Demokritos” Social Web Observatory for social science to study and analyze dissemination of COVID-19 information in the community (social media and news broadcasts). The analysis results will be made public to allow a real-time assessment of the confinement measures impact and to support policy planning.
Materials for protective equipment
• Providing fully available high-granularity infrastructure for measurement and recording of aerosol particles containing the virus, by size and concentration. This unit has been tested and can provide results for characterization of semi-permeable materials (e.g. masks) with sufficient respirability for human use in terms of their filtration capacity of micro- and nano-particles potentially carrying the virus. Performance of common materials has already been evaluated in comparison to standard-specification masks (Ν95, FFP1, 2, 3).
Air Quality
• Data from research stations monitoring atmospheric parameters are also examined and analyzed to assess changes in air quality as a result of the escalating restrictions on movement and decrease of related economic activities.

FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY-HELLAS (FORTH)

FORTH / INSTITUTE OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY (IMBB):
• The Heraklion-based IMBB provides appropriate equipment and infrastructures for SARS-CoV-2 detection, applying reliable molecular virus identification methods (RT-PCR) with a potential for wide diagnostic use.
• MINOTECH, the IMBB in-house production facility, is already producing molecular biology consumables (Taq polymerase, Reverse Transcriptase) used for RT/RQPCR, available throughout Greece and abroad (a MINOTECH and FORTH spin-off Enzyquest collaboration).
• Researchers at IMBB have been developing, modelling and using an innovative methodology for molecular identification of the virus based on biosensors, which could be used in near-patient points of care (e.g. mobile medical units, airports, ports, private medical practices, etc.). It is an adaptable and efficient method, unique on a global scale, which will be exploited by the newly established FORTH spin-off BIOPIX. Evaluation of its accuracy and reliability is under way in collaboration with COVID-19 reference centres.
• Using its state-of-the-art genomic analysis infrastructures (FORTH is a hub of the Hellenic Networks of Precision/Personalized Medicine and operates the only laboratory for ancient DNA analysis in Greece), IMBB is able to fully analyze the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, in order to map and trace the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in Greece. Obtaining this information will be extremely helpful also for characterization of the different virus types present on the Greek territory, as well as determination of their geographical origin.
In a recent study (Population genomics insights into the recent evolution of SARS-CoV-2), researchers from IMBB and ICS/FORTH used population genetics analysis to infer the mutation rate and plausible recombination events that may have contributed to the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Their results suggest that the pangolin coronavirus genome may have contributed to the SARS-CoV-2 genome by recombination with the bat coronavirus genome. However, they find evidence for additional recombination events that involve coronavirus genomes from other hosts, i.e., Hedgehog and Sparrow. Even though recombination events within human hosts cannot be directly assessed, due to the high similarity of SARS-CoV-2 genomes, they infer that recombinations may have recently occurred within human hosts. In addition, they estimated the parameters of a demographic scenario involving an exponential growth of the size of the SARS-CoV-2 populations that have infected European, Asian and Northern American cohorts, and they demonstrated that a rapid exponential growth in population size can support the observed polymorphism patterns in SARS-CoV-2 genomes. (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/...)

FORTH / IMBB BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH DIVISION (IMBB-BR)
• The Ioannina-based IMBB Biomedical Research Division can provide equipment and infrastructure for molecular identification (RT-PCR) of SARS-CoV-2, as well as expertise and advice on diagnostic testing in dedicated spaces (hospitals, etc.) with certified diagnostic tests.

FORTH / INSTITUTE OF COMPUTER SCIENCE (ICS)
• The Heraklion-based FORTH Institute of Computer Science (ICS), together with IMBB, offer bioinformatics-based analysis of COVID-19 patient and SARS-CoV-2 virus genome in order to correlate virus mutations and specific polymorphisms in the human genome with disease symptoms and outcome. The ICS has already developed such methods.
• The ICS has developed @HOME, a specific application for monitoring the health status of COVID-19 patients while they remain at home. The @HOME system comprises a very simple app for smart phones offered to patients and a desktop application destined for the medical monitoring team. Via the smart-phone app, the patient receives reminders and communicates with the medical team, while having access to valid information on COVID-19. The medical team receives continuous feedback on the health status of all registered patients and is thus able to intervene in time, where required. The system was developed under the ICS Ambient Intelligence activities.
• The ICS Information Systems Laboratory has offered use of the CAPrice platform (https://www.capricecommunity.net/), a crowdsourcing solution for monitoring privacy protection, to the international initiative Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), in the context of software application use for tracing contacts of COVID-19 confirmed cases.
• The ICS-FORTH Center for eHealth Applications and Services (CeHA) provides technical support to reference hospitals (Thriasio General Hospital of Eleusina, Pammakaristos General Hospital, University Regional General Hospital of Patras, etc.).
• The ICS-FORTH Center for eHealth Applications and Services (CeHA) offers its software application suite “Integrated Care Solutions (ICS)”, which has been supporting numerous health units in their day-to-day operations attending to the needs of thousands of citizens since 2000. Specific applications are now available in international markets. In hospitals, the ICS suite is used by administrative personnel as well as medical and nursing staff in clinics and medical offices for management of patients and their medical records. It is interconnected with third-party systems (National organization for health care services - EOPYY, e-Government Center for Social Security Services – IDIKA, Ministry of Health, etc.) supporting automation of administrative and medical operations (ordering of laboratory tests and receiving their results, data sending, provision of EOPYY services, interconnection with IDIKA ATLAS system, e-Prescribing, etc.) and transferring technology and knowledge in points of care.

FORTH / INSTITUTE OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING STUDIES (ICE-HT)
• The FORTH ICE-HT in Patras (Composite and Nanomaterial Laboratory), in collaboration with the Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Laboratory (Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras) and ADRINE startup company (Patras Science Park), develops and manufactures, using 3D-printing, personal protective equipment (face shields) for the medical and nursing staff. Furthermore, it conducts laboratory testing of materials intended for medical-grade masks, supported by its technical services and in cooperation with physicians at the University Regional General Hospital of Patras.

FORTH / INSTITUTE OF ELECTRONIC STRUCTURE AND LASER (IESL)
• The Heraklion-based FORTH Institute of Electronic Structure & Laser (IESL) has already been working with 3D-printing techniques to manufacture face shields which will be delivered to the Sanitary District of Crete for use by local hospitals.

CENTRE FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY-HELLAS (CERTH)
1. Advanced molecular diagnostics, genomic analysis and immunogenetics.
2. Direct support of the medical and nursing staff through initiatives such as producing protective face shields. The first 200 face shields have already been delivered on 08/04/2020 to AHEPA General University Hospital of Thessaloniki and George Papanikolaou General Hospital of Thessaloniki, in collaboration with the international Hellenic University (Department of Industrial Engineering & Management and Department of Science and Technology) and with 3D-printing companies (ANiMA-The 3DPrinterExperts, Thes3D, Quick3Dparts and Retouch-HealthSolutions). Design, development and evaluation of reusable, high-filtration capacity respirators and alternative protective masks are also under way.
3. Providing e-Health Applications which are already in operation and can be adapted to the specific needs of users, in order to
• trace confirmed cases and alert persons which have been exposed;
• support patients, nurses, carers, relatives;
• optimize hospital logistics and mobile laboratory sampling procedure.
4. Providing applications in support of all sectors of economic activity, in order to:
• create computer models of epidemic spread and multi-scale simulations;
• assess the impact to agricultural and industrial production and to value chains; optimize cultures, activities and workforce availability.
5. Providing applications to support day-to-day activities of citizens and enterprises in order to:
• minimize contacts in workplaces and public spaces (automated monitoring of total number of persons present and safety distance monitoring in conformity with personal data protection requirements);
• optimize routing of express and e-commerce consignments and provide solutions for automated disinfection in production sites.
6. Development of information material and innovative educational projects using Augmented Reality technology, destined for workers in various posts and for volunteers to be involved in providing COVID-19-related services.

NATIONAL OBSERVATORY OF ATHENS (NOA)
The National Observatory of Athens, in an effort to support State authorities in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, has been developing and providing services ensuring continuous monitoring of the spatial distribution of confirmed cases and deaths, both in Greece and on a global level. Furthermore, it has been designing a number of experiments and surveys on the related atmospheric and weather conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of confinement measures on research areas of NOA competence, that is air pollution, air permeability, measurement of actual seismic background noise (without contribution from human activities), etc. Below we present the services introduced and the experiments and surveys under way, some of which have already yielded results, announced below (to be followed by specific Press releases with detailed results), while others are still underway and have yet to yield results.
A. Services:
• Information platform for continuous monitoring of worldwide COVID-19 status, with spatial granularity. A system of timely information and assessment with regard to virus spread was developed by the Operational Unit of Earth Observation and Satellite Remote Sensing Sciences under the BEYOND project, hosted at the NOA Institute of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing (IAASARS) and is freely available online. Specifically for Greece, it supports collection of data from municipalities and registry offices, and presents additional data collected by BEYOND/Hellenic National Sentinel Data Mirror Site, including socioeconomic, environmental and atmospheric parameters.
• Β. Experiments which are underway and have already yielded initial results:
• Study on the “profile” of pollution sources during confinement to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The ΝΟΑ team studying air pollution in urban areas has been surveying the common pollutant and greenhouse gas emission data and has found that a 30-50% car-use reduction by the majority of the population due to confinement measures has resulted in significant decreases of CO, NOx, PM and CO2 emissions by up to 40%. Also, due to stay-at-home orders (#menoumespiti), domestic heating is now used for longer hours with the heating profile of weekdays now resembling that of weekends. It was found that oil remains the predominant heating option in all regions of Greece, but differences between regions were observed as regards the second most used option. In Attica, use of air-conditioners is very common but in all other regions their use is roughly the same as biomass combustion.
• Monitoring of atmospheric permeability and visibility due to reduction of anthropogenic pollutants. The Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD) monitors on a continuous basis data directly related to particulate matter (aerosol) concentrations in the atmosphere from both anthropogenic (pollution) or natural (pollen, dust transfers) sources, as well as humidity levels. Initial results regarding visibility levels for the period 1/3/2020-10/4/2020 and their comparison with average values in multi-year visibility time series (for the same time of year and after subtracting rainy days) reveal a significant increase in atmospheric clarity and transparency. To cite just one example, visibility over 10 km has been observed 3.5 times more often than the expected average at this time of year.
• Study of the imprint of movement restriction measures on seismic background noise. The NOA Institute of Geodynamics (IG), in collaboration with the University of Patras, has launched a wide survey on seismic background noise, examining frequency data in the range of 5-25Hz from the 24-hour seismic activity recordings by the Hellenic Unified Seismological Network (HUSN) stations. Significantly, to this day observations reveal a noticeable gradual reduction in seismic background noise, which began immediately after the first announcement of confinement measures on March 13th, 2020 (shutdown of eating and drinking establishments, entertainment and recreational areas, malls, etc.), following closure of all schools and universities in the country on March 11th. Levels of seismic noise continued to decrease after the first announcement of measures, to ultimately record even lower values immediately after the second announcement imposing a general nation-wide lockdown as of March 23rd.
C. Experiments which are underway but have yet to yield results:
• Study of the possible influence of weather conditions on the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The IERSD METEO Operational Unit has launched a large survey using machine-learning techniques to reveal and quantify possible correlations between epidemiological variables (number of confirmed cases and deaths) and meteorological parameters (temperature, humidity, sunshine duration, etc.), taking also into account the impact of social distancing measures. The results will be used to measure the relative impact for each one of the examined meteorological variables on spread of COVID-19 disease.
• Monitoring of air pollution variation in the Attica Basin. In the context of monitoring the evolution of COVID-19 pandemic, the IERSD Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Group (http://apcg.meteo.noa.gr/) monitors variation of air pollution in the Attica Basin, by conducting specialized measurements, at the NOA monitoring station in Thission, of common and specific pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (ΝΟ, ΝΟ2, ΝΟx), black carbon (BC), carbon monoxide (CO), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), as well as of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in urban settings – a first for Greece. Furthermore, fluctuations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in major Greek cities are also monitored using data from the European Space Agency (ESA) new-generation Sentinel-5P satellite.
• Monitoring of atmospheric parameters by the NOA PANhellenic Geophysical observatory of Antikythera (PANGEA) to assess impact of COVID-19. The IERSD ground-based remote sensing team, in collaboration with European Research Infrastructure ACTRIS (Aerosol Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure), is participating in a pan-European project designed to collect atmospheric composition measurements, particularly regarding the vertical distribution of atmospheric parameters (aerosols, clouds, humidity), scheduled to take place from April 20 to the end of May 2020. The project aims at studying the influence of decreased anthropogenic activity (e.g. vehicle use, industrial activities, air flights). Measurements are collected at the novel NOA research infrastructure, the PANhellenic Geophysical observatory of Antikythera (PANGEA).

ATHENA RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CENTER IN INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION AND KNOWLEDGE TECHNOLOGIES
• Special version of BIP! Finder for COVID-19: BIP! Finder, available at (https://bip.imsi.athenarc.gr) is a tool that assists researchers in exploring available scientific literature. Its basic feature is that it supports ranking and comparing of scientific articles based on different impact scores. This enables researchers to prioritize searches based on their research interests, a particularly useful feature in an era characterized by extremely large numbers of publications available. The impact scores used are calculated through analysis of metadata for publications and their citation network. In the context of a wide awareness-raising effort to achieve a better understanding of issues related to COVID-19 and the coronavirus causing the disease, ATHENA RC developed a special version of the tool.
• Organization of an online event on COVID-19: actions, tools, good practices and contact points in Greece.
• Organization of an online conference by Research and Innovation Center “Athena” in the context of #APPOLONIS infrastructure under the title “Digital Humanities in the times of virus: a Twitter conference!”.

PATRAS SCIENCE PARK (PSP)
The PSP contribution consists in supporting the business sector by designing appropriate actions:
• BIOPIX DNA TECHNOLOGY P.C.: A FORTH-spin-off company, BIOPIX manufactures innovative units for virus detection. The company was fully funded under the “Proof of Concept” program which is implemented by PSP exclusively from private donors.
• Application-driven Research& Innovative Engineering (ADRINE): PSP-hosted ADRINE start-up, launched by FORTH researchers Dr. P. Papas and Dr. G. Anagnostopoulos, specializes in rapid prototyping using 3D-printing.
• Aidplex: Aidplex start-up company fabricates new-generation splints which are waterproof, skin-friendly, recyclable and lightweight; recently, intensive collaboration with Project Veltio and “Covid-19 Response Greece” volunteering action has resulted in the creation of two different types of face shields, ready to be mass-produced, if required.

The HERACLES research group on the Exposome and Human Health of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation, in collaboration with the University School of Advanced Studies IUSS in Pavia have developed a computational tool for the evaluation of the public health risk from the COVID-19 epidemic in Greece and Italy and evaluated the effectiveness of different non-pharmacological intervention scenarios for public health risk management. The computational tool for public health risk management from COVID-19 is called CORE: COVID Risk Evaluation model. It includes an advanced model of the spread of the epidemic and the final health risk assessment of the affected population. For more details see https://stiplab.github.io/Covid19/files/...

Several research teams in Greek Universities (University of Thessaly, University of Thessaloniki) produce 3-D printing ventilators and/or protection material for COVID – 19, offered to local hospitals.

Ireland 2020-03-30 Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) expects some of these novel approaches to be deployed as a result of the two funding calls mentioned in question 3.

SFI is a signatory to https://wellcome.ac.uk/press-release/sha....

OECD Secretariat additions (30 March 2020):
CeADAR, Ireland’s National Centre for Applied Data Analytics and Machine Intelligence, is offering its AI expertise to help companies, government agencies, medical centres and research charities develop AI tools to help track the virus and monitor compliance of the general public. The centre can help organisations with large data sets to apply machine learning techniques.

Israel 2020-03-30 Using Geo data synchronising with other health data with the aim to reach new analytic insights.

OECD Secretariat additions (30 March 2020):
The Israeli Ministry of Health launched a mobile app, called Hamagen to help to prevent the spread of coronavirus by enabling users to know if they have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus in the 14 days prior to the patient's diagnosis of the disease. The app uses location data from mobile devices and cross-references this information with the Ministry of Health’s updated epidemiological data. If the app identifies a match, the smartphone owner is directed to a link of the Ministry of Health containing all the information about next steps to take.
(https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/2...)
Italy 2020-03-29 A new project, lead by Italian industries, universities and research infrastructures, has been promoted and funded by the European Commission. The EXSCALATE4CoV (E4CoV) project aims to exploit the most powerful computing resources currently based in Europe to empower smart in-silico drug design, while increasing the accuracy and predictability of Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD). Advanced CADD, in combination with high-throughput biochemical and phenotypic screening, will allow the rapid evaluation of the results and reduce time for discovery of new drugs. E4CoV will select, through virtual screening protocols, the most promising drugs against SARS-Cov-2 from a pool of off-label drugs (> 10,000 drugs). At the same time, the Dompè Tangible Chemical Database (TCDb), comprising >500 billion molecules, will be screened to identify new potential drugs to be tested against Covid-19, thus enhancing the success rate of the virtual screening step. Other European participating institutions will contribute in the domains of bioinformatics (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, SIB), biochemical assays (Fraunhofer IME), phenotypic screenings (KU LEUVEN). Along with homology models, the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IIMCB) and Trieste Synchrotron will determine the crystal structure of the coronavirus functional proteins to further enhance the quality of the in-silico models and to evaluate the structural similarities with other viral proteins. The entire process will allow the rapid identification of active and safe molecules to be further tested in animal models and in clinical trials. The coupling of virtual screening with multiple high throughput biochemical and phenotypic screenings will allow the rapid identification of ‘safe in man’ off-label drugs for immediate treatment of the already infected population. Such massive virtual screening activities need a huge computational resource, therefore the activities will be supported and empowered by three of the most powerful computer centres in Europe, namely CINECA, BSC and JÜLICH. The supercomputing facilities have been extended to the other tier-0 systems in Europe, including the ENI Corporate HPC facility, and will be able to guarantee jointly the best combination of hardware architectures, the required knowledge, and the highest speed-up for the simulations. In addition, INFN (CERN Tier-1 centre) will make available their data sharing and high throughput infrastructure to facilitate products exploitation. The Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases is the eligible centre to test for the proof-of-concept in patients, and many others hospital and polyclinics in Italy and Europe confirmed their commitment to participate to this experimentation and project.
Japan 2020-03-29 See answers provided to Q3.
Korea 2020-03-28 -To contain COVID-19 outbreaks, the Korean government has established a support system for quarantine and epidemiological study using big data and ICT. As this system uses smart city technologies, which collect and process large-scale city data, the government can quickly identify and track the locations of confirmed and suspect cases to curb the spread of the virus.
- When MERS-CoV spread in Korea in 2015, Korea amended its Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act to allow using data exceptionally to control and prevent the spread of infectious disease while protecting privacy. In response to COVID-19, using cloud platforms to collect and analyse data, Korea has efficiently shared information with the KCDC, local governments, telecommunications companies and credit card companies to establish a faster epidemiological investigation system.
- To contain the spread of the virus, Korea supported the development of applications that allow citizens to self-diagnose and civil servants to monitor the health status and locations of citizens who are under self-quarantine.
- Korea has effectively released a limited amount of public masks to prevent the spread of infection among citizens, and shared public information about the public masks in cooperation with private companies to solve purchase inconveniences and concerns. As a result of cooperation with private companies, the relevant application and web service were developed quickly.
- To support small and medium-sized enterprises in teleworking, Korea provides SMEs with subsidies for cloud service fees (2.5 billion KRW) and a smart work pilot project (300 million KRW), while providing free or discounted teleworking-related services by partnering with major Korean software companies.
- In response to the increasing necessity for distance learning following the spread of COVID-19, Korea provided free, zero-rating-based online education to low and middle income students in cooperation with three major telecommunications companies.
- Besides, various AI and data companies in Korea are actively participating to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. Representatively, companies provide GIS-based comprehensive situation map services to provide information on the spread of infection and response information. In addition, by providing AI voice-bot service, it is possible to check the health status of people showing symptoms or those who have contacted infected persons. Also, the companies provide trend information through media traffic data analysis. In addition, cloud companies are carrying out various supports to help small and medium-sized enterprises overcome the COVID-19 crisis, including support for developing COVID-19 related applications, web services, and telecommuting solutions. Healthcare companies such as Seegene, Vuno and JLK Inspection utilize AI technologies to drastically reduce the time for developing diagnostics kits and reading X-ray images. Other companies including Deargen and Arontier use AI technologies in screening for drug repositioning and identifying candidate materials for new drug, which would dramatically reduce the time for developing therapeutics.
Latvia 2020-03-30 The Ministry of Economics (responsible for innovation policy) and the Latvian Investment Development Agency has contributed EUR 25 000 to the prize pool of a Covid-19 hackathon.

https://labsoflatvia.com/en/news/hackath...

Lithuania 2020-03-30 The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport with the Association of Lithuanian Serials are investigating the situation to identify measures needed to ensure open access with text and data mining possibilities to publications on medical science.
Mexico 2020-03-29 There are efforts being made using cutting edge technology to e.g. create equipment at low cost using 3D printing and other company is providing services to analize samples at low cost and much less time to speed the process using DNA-based diagnoses.
Netherlands 2020-04-01 As far as today, there are no new initiatives . However, TNO, which is a multidiscliplinary applied research institute, has already started doing extra research, focussed on crisis management tools and medical instruments.
Poland 2020-05-15 1) The Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in which operates the Supercomputing and Networking Center located in Poznan starts cooperation with the European Institute of Bioinformatics (EMBL-EBI) as a national node in the field of data on SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The EMB launches IT platform which will collect data on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus sequence. This initiative is coordinated by the EMBL branch in Hinxton (the United Kingdom) - the European Institute of Bioinformatics (EMBL-EBI).

The national nodes established in the EMBL Member States will cooperate with the main portal 'Covid-19 Portal'. This initiative also envisages cooperation with existing networks and databases, including the database led by the World Health Organization (WHO).


2) See point 4 in Q3 in the scope of creating IT tools to gather theraupetical and epidemiological data.
Portugal 2020-06-05 - A research call has been launched, on March 27, in the context of the National Initiative for Digital Competences (INCoDe.2030) – AI 4 COVID-19 – Data Science and Artificial Intelligence in Public Administration to strengthen the fight to COVID-19 and future pandemias. These projects require the partnership of research institutes with public administration entities, and must be in line with the National Plan for the Preparation and Response to the Disease by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS). The projects are expected to focus on big data, analytic techniques and models, computational resources and products and results implementing novel research approaches in the context of public administration entities.
- Portugal has joined other countries in claiming open access to publications and data on the COVID-19. A broad set of high level officials responsible for science and technology policies at the global level, including the Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology and Higher Education, issued a Declaration pledging for the main scientific societies to make available, promptly and voluntarily, all publications and data as regards the new corona virus, which triggered the COVID-19 pandemics, either in public repositories and in digital format.
- A tentative task for COVID-19 information systems for population, with open data policy integrated with data analysis to provide orientations towards advising population at large for prevention measures, as well as to prevent false alarms is being set up by the Portuguese Science Foundation, FCT, in cooperation with health authorities and under the overall coordination of the Public Health Scholl of the University of Porto, under the National Digital Skills Initiative, INCoDe.2030.
Russian Federation 2020-04-01 Russian companies residents of the Skolkovo Technopark are developing new technologies and solutions against the new coronavirus infection:
- DRD company is working on a rapid coronavirus detection test. To speed up the process, the Foundation asks the government to provide access to biomaterials;
- National BioService is ready to provide its own biobank for drug developers. Its library on other diseases may also be useful for cross-reactivity tests with other diseases;
- Tion has prepared a solution for effective indoor air disinfection that can already be implemented;
- Skolkovo has also developed antiviral drugs that can be effective against coronavirus;
- the Botki.AI medical decision support system, based on artificial intelligence, can accelerate X-ray analysis of patients with suspected pneumonia caused by coronavirus;
- Data Matrix provides a free platform for companies that develop coronavirus drugs;
- companies at Skolkovo are also working on the new solutions for distance learning and remote work, including monitoring the actions of employees when they move to a remote location; and a robotic advisor who can replace staff when communicating with people in public places.

The research of Russian scientists has been recently published regarding "Artificial intelligence for the repurposing of approved or investigational drugs against COVID-19" https://www.researchgate.net/publication...

Compex ICT systems are being implemented to track locations of COVID-19 cases to control the spreading of the disease.

Some universities and commercial teaching centres are opening their online courses for wider audience free of charge.


South Africa 2020-03-29 Data science is at the heart of the South African response to Covid-19 drawing on capacities across the science system, e.g. from the astronomy and theoretical physics communities. The Department of Science and Innovation through the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has successfully commissioned and finalized the physical set-up of a core situational awareness platform. Currently, the core of the platform is health data but over time, we intend to integrated the system with other types of data to provide a more robust platform that can provide holistic decision support to the National Command Centre. A joint CSIR and Department of Health team are hard at work in creating a range of data warehouses including the current geographic spread of the disease, current cases, health vulnerabilities, and location of health and other facilities, amongst others. Initial visualisations have been completed and these will be continuously enhanced and improved. We thank the team which worked on this system for the efforts and commitments. Protocols and arrangements are also being facilitated by the DSI to enable the situational awareness platform to draw in information from other sources. This includes the results of the modelling efforts of various modelling teams on a regular basis. Initial work, led by a team at the University of Pretoria, have also started mobilizing continent-wide networks to build databases on covid-19 cases. Of particular strategic importance for the South African response effort is the situation in our neighbouring countries. Protocols and improved management arrangements for the facility will be finalized to protect the health and wellness of the core team. The team has also identified opportunities for accessing key data sets held by the private sector for the explicit purpose of strengthening our situational capacity capabilities. The support of our private sector partners in this regard is crucial. The situational awareness platform is flexible and dynamic and will be improved and customized based on the prevailing decision support requirements of the National Command Centre.
Spain 2020-04-01 Different measures have been put in place, in particular in the EOSC framework EOSC Synergy H2020 project that is coordinated by Spain a new COVID19 Galaxy service has been implemented.
https://www.eosc-synergy.eu/covid19-gala...

The service supports researchers who wish to run computational models for modelling and analysing the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. The computation is steered via the Galaxy Portal. The platform offers a series of datasets collections, although every user can download its own data:
• All Coronavirus sequences from the China National Centre for Bioinformatics (CNCB) – nearly 40K sequences.
• The collection of 961 2019-NCOV samples from China National Centre for Bioinformatics (CNCB)
• A reference genome of the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan-Hu-1, accession number NC_045512.2.
• The collection of 170 SARS-CoV-2 samples from Genebank
• Reference genome indexes for bwa, gatk and bowtie2 for the NC_045512.2 SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan-Hu-1, can be built.
Sweden 2020-03-28 Resources at medical universities are made available for the health care sector
Switzerland 2020-05-20 The Federal Council has set up a Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force, which provided science advice to the governmental and cantonal actors in charge of the crisis management. The Science Task Force consists of a group of around 70 high profile scientists working on ten topics. Based on the available scientific evidence, the Task Force provides recommendations in Policy Briefs, which are publicly available at www.ncsf-tf.ch. Mathematical Modelling is one of the Expert Groups providing actively advice to the Federal Government. Prediction models to describe the epidemic are publicly available on the Task Force website. They are regularly updated. Furthermore, the Digital Epidemiology Expert Group substantially contributes to shaping the testing-tracing-isolating-quarantining strategy. Experts from the EPFL participating in this group developed a proximity app, which should support digital tracing and keep the number of new cases low.

Research data under the SNSF Special Call and the NRP 78 "Covid-19" must be made available for researchers and authorities worldwide and without delay at the latest at the end of the project.

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has set up special registry for Covid-19 research including projects of the SNSF, Innosuisse and EU-projects with Swiss participation (http://www.snf.ch/de/fokusForschung/news...).

On March 24th 2020, Swiss Universities, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries appealed to all publishing houses to remove paywalls on scientific publications supporting by this way the appeal of the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). In the current exceptional circumstances, scientific results need to be shared immediately and transparently to bolster the fight against the new virus.


Thailand 2020-03-31 There are rapid deployment of new technologies to be used in COVID-19 situation. Ministry of Public Health uses an application called “COVID Tracker” to report a number of COVID-19 patients. In addition, Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation also develop a tracking system called “DDC-care Platform” that can follow up and evaluate health of passengers from risk country who stay in Thailand.
Turkey 2020-04-10 TUBITAK’s (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) ULAKBİM (National Academic Network and Information Center) currently provides a "National Academic Network" service with a capacity of 140 Gbps as the global Internet connection and European Academic Network (GEANT) connection service to Turkish researchers. In the period of combating COVID-19, researchers' access to information from virtual media has become a key issue. Moreover, with the measures taken for COVID-19, our universities will continue their spring term education as distance/open/digital education, which has resulted in the need to increase internet capacities and bandwidth demands. In order to meet these needs, ULAKNET has been working with the Turkish major telecom company, Türk Telekom, to open new ports on the main backbone circuits, consisting of Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul. In this context, the capacity of approximately 100 ULAKNET circuits has been increased by an average of 60%. Approximately 160,000 researchers and over 7 million university students; 210 different institutions and sub-units including all public universities, some private universities, National Library, Council for Higher Education benefit from this service. Until now, all the requests from universities in terms of internet capacity increase have been met.
Considering the distance education services provided through cloud services, a significant number of universities currently offer distance education via ULAKBulut. In this sense, a video conferencing system has been established to meet the needs of universities. Additional backbone networks such as the one in İzmir, are planned to be opened soon.
United Kingdom 2020-03-31 [See survey responses to questions 2, 3, 6B, and 7]