Researchers of Comenius University will join the effort to study COVID-19

Bratislava, 25 September 2020: Scientists of Comenius University will obtain funding for COVID-19 research. The Slovak Research and Development Agency (SRDA) received 25 project applications and approved financing for 5 projects of scientists from Comenius University. The university will also participate as a co-investigator in 5 additional basic research projects and 4 applied research projects. Scientific institutions will receive and share a total of €8.2 million.

25. 09. 2020 11.38 hod.
By: CU External Relations Office

The projects from Comenius University which received support include three originating at the Faculty of Medicine and two from the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences.

"As the pandemic rolls on and there is a risk that the vaccine will not be accepted by a large part of the society it is necessary to investigate the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and look for possible therapeutic interventions," said Peter Celec of the Faculty of Medicine who submitted one of the projects approved for financing. He will research neutrophils and the mechanisms that lead to the formation of extracellular traps. He will also analyse why old age is a risk factor in the disease but pharmacological suppression of the immune system or pregnancy are not.

Martin Kanovský from the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, will investigate the Slovaks' confidence in COVID-19-related measures and the citizens' perception of the coronavirus threat. He will propose practical steps to increase public confidence in security measures. He will also compare his data in an international context.

Pavel Bábal's team from the Faculty of Medicine will analyse the causes of death of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Slovakia. He will identify risk groups in the population based on a genetic analysis of first wave patients. The goal is to develop a test for the presence of the virus which is more sensitive than the currently used RT PCR and which can also be used in laboratories with limited equipment. The research team will work on refining the morphological diagnosis of COVID-19, including a histochemical confirmation of the viral infection.

Alexandra Bražinová from the Faculty of Medicine will study shared households and other possible closed infection hot-spots. "The population that does not mix with the wider community offers a strategic opportunity for studying the patterns of virus spreading," explains Alexandra Bražinová. The project will determine important epidemiological parameters of the spread of the disease unique to the Slovak population. The results of the study will be used to develop effective measures in the future.

The social, economic and legal perspectives of the pandemic will be studied by the team of Marián Vávra from the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences.

"In addition to projects which were granted financial support we proposed one applied research project and one basic research project in which Comenius University is the principal investigator," adds Jozef Masarik, Vice-Rector of Comenius University for Science, Doctoral Studies and Project Activities, who is also the Chairman of the SRDA Presidium. The projects were selected on the basis of their quality and the viability of their goals.

"This year we are witnessing cuts in European funding for science. I am therefore very pleased that the Slovak government decided to allocate financing to scientific projects which meet the COVID-19 pandemic head on," said Marek Števček, the Rector of Comenius University.