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Research Luxembourg scientists contribute to international Covid-19 work

unCoVer network and Miriam Herderman O’Brien Prize.

The unCoVer (Unravelling data for rapid evidence based response to COVID-19) network aims to provide a research platform for the expert use of data obtained from the real world. 

The Miriam Hederman O’Brien prize is awarded by the Foundation for Fiscal Studies in association with The Irish Times to recognise outstanding work in the area of Irish fiscal policy. The aim of the prize is to promote the study and discussion of matters relating to fiscal, economic and social policy, particularly among new contributors to these fields, and to reward those who demonstrate exceptional research promise.

As a testimony to the excellence and openness to the world of Luxembourg research, two projects conducted by researchers in the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) have recently contributed to international Covid-19 research.

Predi-COVID study included in worldwide unCoVer network

Launched two years ago, the Predi-COVID study aimed to identify important risk factors and biomarkers associated with the severity of COVID-19 and the long-term health consequences of the disease in Luxembourg.

The study helped to shed light on why some patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop severe symptoms while others have only mild forms, which will eventually lead to more personalised care recommendations. The study also included household members of Covid-19 positive participants to investigate transmission of the virus in this high-risk population.

With the Predi-COVID study, LIH has joined the unCoVer network, contributing to creating an international, harmonised real-world data bank.

By bringing together complementary data and medical and scientific expertise to address the still urgent questions regarding the determinants of the COVID-19 progression, the project hopes to inform more effective medical and public health strategies.

The Horizon 2020-funded network includes 29 partners from 18 countries, who have been collecting COVID-19 patient information during the pandemic, including LIH researchers from the Department of Precision Health and the Translational Medicine Operations Hub.

The network will build ‘big data’ analysis tools, allowing clinicians, data scientists and epidemiologists, to collaboratively address questions including who is susceptible to serious disease. Whereas clinical trials often exclude the most vulnerable groups, unCoVer real-world data specifically includes these groups, therefore complementing and contrasting other studies.

“The unCoVer approach will address urgent questions related to COVID-19 health care provision and develop a secure cross-national database of anonymised hospital data. As the pandemic develops and with the emergence of new viral variants, this will improve patient care and provide the basis for public health initiatives.”

Michel Vaillant, Head of Competence Center for Methodology and Statistics of the LIH Translational Medicine Operations Hub, and contributor to the unCoVer project on behalf of the LIH

Denisa M. Sologon and Iryna Kyzyma recognised for their work on modelling the distributional impact of the COVID-19 crisis

Researchers Denisa M. Sologon and Iryna Kyzyma both from LISER have been awarded the Miriam Herderman O’Brien 2020 Prize.

Together with co-authors Cathal O’Donoghue (NUI Galway) and John McHale (NUI Galway), they were recognised for their outstanding contribution to understanding the distributional implications of the COVID-19 crisis and policy responses in Ireland.

The paper “Modelling the Distributional Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis”, published in Fiscal Studies, was innovative in developing a microsimulation-nowcasting approach using publicly available data to help understand and predict the distributional implications of the COVID-19 emergency in “near-real time”.

Denisa and Iryna also led this work in Luxembourg, published in the Journal of Economic Inequality.

“The timely analysis of the likely effects across the income distribution at the early stages in the Covid-19 emergency demonstrates the value of the Microsimulation-Nowcasting framework in modelling the impact of the emergency in “near-real” time.”

 Denisa M. Solognon, Senior Research Economist at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)

Read more about how LIH contributes to international COVID-19 research and about LISER researchers who won the 2020 Miriam Hederman O’Brien prize.

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