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Covid-19 taskforce

A deconfinement strategy framed by health and research measures

As part of its exit strategy, the Luxembourg government can count on the support of Luxembourg research, namely the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force. In close cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Health, the COVID-19 Task Force has developed a “Large Scale Testing Strategy” based on a voluntary diagnostic test accessible to the population, including cross-border commuters of the Greater Region. This will ensure that Luxembourg can better and in an informed manner accompany the lifting of restrictions from the lockdown. The more people participate, the more protection this will mean for the entire population.

“Due to the size of Luxembourg and its limited number of residents, we have a great opportunity: we can test the entire population for the novel coronavirus within a short period of time. This makes us the first country in the world to have a complete overview of the number of infected citizens”

Minister of Higher Education and Research Claude Meisch.

By shortening the lockdown period, psychological, economic and social problems will be kept to a minimum.

The overall objective is to avoid a second wave of infected people in the context of exit measures and thus the introduction of a new lockdown.

8,500 tests for students and teachers this week, 20,000 tests per day in a later phase

The testing starts already this week: about 6,000 high school graduates and 2,500 teachers have the opportunity to get tested before they go back to school from May 4th, 2020. They will be informed by letter. The tests are voluntary: everyone can get tested, no one has to.

The testing strategy consists of expanding the capacity to 20,000 tests per day. The objective is to be able to test the entire population, progressively and in contingents, in some cases several times.  

Breaking the infection chain

“The high number of tests carried out will help to assess the extent of the spread of the virus and to detect for the first time asymptomatic cases, which are currently estimated to account for up to 80% of cases. This means that we can detect many more infected people than before, put them in isolation and track their contacts, thus breaking the infection chain”

“As the protection is greater the more people are tested, we want to encourage all residents of the country to participate in this unique public health measure”

Minister of Health Paulette Lenert

In the next few days and weeks, up to 17 test stations will be set up in the country, where the inhabitants of Luxembourg, but also cross-border commuters, can be tested.

“We are pleased that the government has confidence in Research Luxembourg to support it at this historic stage. The aim is to effectively accompany the spread of the virus and to keep it under control at all times”

Ulf Nehrbass, spokesman of the COVID-19 Task Force and CEO of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).
The core elements of the large-scale testing strategy

Testing and segmentation of the population into contingents

The Research Luxembourg large-scale testing strategy is based on large-scale virus testing, in which the population is not considered as a whole, but divided into different contingents. The tests per contingent are carried out in 3 stages:

  • Stage 1: a representative population of a contingent is tested. The results of these tests give an indication of when the contingent can be freed from restrictions and when it should be tested on a large scale
  • Stage 2: All persons in the contingent are invited to be tested on a voluntary basis.
  • Stage 3: A representative group is selected shortly after the exit measures in order to be tested a second time. This allows monitoring of whether and how the virus is spreading within the contingent.

For people tested negative, the restrictions of the lockdown are lifted. Positive tested people must enter isolation. Their contacts are traced, tested and quarantined to break the chain of infection.

Projections to better guide the deconfinement strategy

“The projections we make on the basis of the test results help policymakers to make decisions on the exit strategy and to adapt measures to the situation at any time. Important indicators include, for example, the ability to trace contacts and the capacity of the health system”

Prof. Rudi Balling, Director of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine at the University of Luxembourg.

The COVID-19 Task Force is well organised for this. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, researchers, statisticians and doctors work together on a daily basis to produce projections for Luxembourg that are as accurate as possible, based on which the decision-makers can then decide on the measures to be taken. This project, which primarily serves a public health objective, will also enable research to gain a better understanding of the virus in the medium term – which is important in order to learn how we can better live with the virus in the future. In addition, the experience gained now will in the long term also serve to be better prepared as a country in the event of another pandemic.

Ease the path towards normality

“What we do here in Luxembourg is unique. Luxembourg can test more extensively than any other country to date. This enables us to take the difficult path out of the COVID-19 crisis towards normality in the most controlled way possible. On the one hand, this minimises risks and on the other hand, provides a solid basis for the government to make decisions” 

– Ulf Nehrbass
The strategy at a glance

The large-scale testing strategy developed by the COVID-19 Task Force is based on the following 5 elements:

  • Consistent monitoring of key parameters – to monitor the evolution of the COVID 19 pandemic in Luxembourg at all times and to provide a basis for decisions on the scope of testing and the introduction of relaxation or restriction measures
  • Segmentation of the population into contingents
  • High testing capacity: test each contingent, with the aim of gradually and on a voluntary basis testing the largest possible part of the population and then exempting those who test negative from restrictive measures
  • Isolation of positive tested people
  • Efficient and fast tracing of positive tested people and subsequent quarantine-measures
What is the COVID-19 Task Force?

Efficient measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic require close cooperation between research, hospitals and the Government in Luxembourg. For this reason, Research Luxembourg (LIH, LISER, LIST, LNS, Luxinnovation, University of Luxembourg and FNR, under the coordination of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research) has set up the COVID-19 Task Force in order to better implement relevant initiatives. Based on a list of priorities elaborated by ministries and other partners, a number of work packages have been defined, which the COVID-19 Task Force will work on in the coming weeks and months. In cooperation with the government, the COVID-19 Task Force sees its role in providing scientific input to enable the government to work on a fact-based EXIT strategy. To this end, the COVID-19 Task Force is continuously working on updates on the development of the pandemic in Luxembourg and submits concepts and recommendations from a scientific perspective so that they can be incorporated into the political decision-making process.

Communicated by Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education and Research and Research Luxembourg

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Covid-19 taskforce

Predicting the severity of COVID-19 infection

The “Predi-COVID” study has been launched

The Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force announces the start of “Predi-COVID[1]”, a study that aims to identify important risk factors and biomarkers associated with COVID-19 severity and long-term health consequences of the disease in Luxembourg.
Predi-COVID will contribute to better understanding why some patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 develop severe symptoms while others present only mild forms, which will ultimately lead to more personalized care recommendations.
The study will also include household members of Covid-19 positive participants to study the transmission of the virus in this high-risk population. Overall, this unique project will provide important results and improve the understanding and management of the outbreak. 

COVID-19 infection manifests itself through a diverse array of symptoms, varying in type and intensity and consequently resulting in very different outcomes for affected patients. The risk of more severe forms of Covid-19 increases with age. However, little is currently known about other clinical and biological characteristics that lead to the observed disparities in disease severity and prognosis.      

In this context, the “Predi-COVID” project was launched with the goal of defining which patient profiles can be associated with a more severe prognosis. The study will identify the clinical, epidemiological and socio-demographic characteristics, as well as specific biomarkers from both the SARS CoV-2 virus and the patient, which can help predict the way the disease will evolve in a given individual according notably to his immune profile. Such predictors are important to personalize care by predicting as early as possible the risk of severe disease; they are also essential to support possible future strategies of de-isolation.

“In terms of biological markers, one of the factors that will be assessed in the study is whether the presence of other concurrent microbial infections – known as co-infections – could serve as an indicator of COVID-19 severity in the Luxembourg population”

Prof Paul Wilmes from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), one of the partners implicated in the project.        

“By improving our understanding of the heterogeneity observed in disease severity, our study will enable the accurate prognostic evaluation of people with Covid-19. This will in turn provide policymakers with an invaluable tool to effectively steer public health measures in response to the pandemic. This could include targeted isolation policies for the most vulnerable individuals”

Prof. Laetitia Huiart, Director of the Department of Population Health at LIH and Principal Investigator of the study. 

To this end, a cohort composed of people over the age of 18 positive for SARS CoV-2 is being established. All individuals newly tested positive and being followed through the national Covid-19 telemonitoring system (suivicovid.lu) can participate in this study if they agree to share their data for research purposes.

More detailed clinical data and associated biological samples will be gathered from a subset of volunteers from the original study cohort, in order to better characterise symptoms and clearly define the different disease outcomes. Upon inclusion in the study and after three weeks, several biological samples — including blood, nasal and oral swabs, saliva and stool will be collected from participants to identify human and viral predictive markers.  

The health evolution and symptoms of the enrolled patients will be followed daily through different remote digital tools, depending on whether patients are at home or at the hospital, for 14 days from the time of confirmation of diagnosis. Short additional evaluations will also be performed monthly for a period up to 12 months, to assess potential long-term consequences of Covid-19. Finally, innovative digital data will be collected. This comprises voice recordings, allowing researchers to identify “vocal biomarkers” of frequently observed symptoms in people with Covid-19. This can help identify signs of respiratory syndromes, fatigue, anxiety or negative emotions related to Covid-19, which could subsequently be used for the easy remote monitoring of Covid-19 patients at home.

“The strength of the project lies in its highly interdisciplinary consortium, which has mobilised a significant number of leading experts in virology, immunology, digital health, epidemiology, clinical practice, computer science, statistics and artificial intelligence. Pooling such a diverse expertise so rapidly has been made possible by the tight collaborative environment fostered by Research Luxembourg, which has resulted in an integrated and holistic study protocol”

Prof. Ulf Nehrbass, Chief Executive Officer at LIH and spokesperson of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force.  

The “Predi-COVID” study is led by a consortium of Luxembourgish research institutions, including LIH, Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), the Laboratoire National de Santé (LNS), the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) and Hôpitaux Robert Schuman (HRS). The study is co-financed by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) with an amount of EUR 1.85 million and by the André Losch Foundation.

Press contacts:

Research Luxembourg Taskforce: Didier Goossens, didier.goossens@fnr.lu

Luxembourg Institute of Health: Arnaud d’Agostini, arnaud.dagostini@lih.lu


[1] «Luxembourg cohort of positive patients for COVID-19: a stratification study to predict severe prognosis»

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Covid-19 taskforce

André Losch Foundation supports research on COVID-19 with generous donation

André Losch Fondation announced its participation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting Research Luxembourg with one of its most significant donations yet. The foundation’s commitment of 1,4 million euros will help financing three COVID-19 studies currently underway in Luxembourg: the CON-VINCE study, aiming to evaluate the dynamics of the spread of the disease within Luxembourg; the Predi-COVID study, dedicated to finding predictive markers for disease severity; and a study that develops statistical projections and modelling of the epidemic.
On top of this André Losch Fondation will also provide financing for four vans that will allow nurses to collect tissue samples of study participants, thereby sparing them a trip to the hospital.  

The largest part of this donation will go towards the Grand-Duchy’s main two COVID-19 research studies both launched under the umbrella of Research Luxembourg, a joint initiative of the main players in the public research sector. The CON-VINCE study was launched on 9 April to generate accurate data on the prevalence and transmission of the disease in Luxembourg. The Predi-COVID project is a stratification study focusing on risk factors that play a role in disease progression. Its main objective is to identify clinical, epidemiological and molecular characteristics associated with the severity of the symptoms. A third project supported by the donation will allow  a research group to work on statistical simulations of the evolution, impact and spread of the pandemic to facilitate decision-making.

The research community in the country is fully invested in the fight against the epidemic, and this generous donation will help us tremendously to accomplish what we set out to do

Prof. Ulf Nehrbass, head of the Research Luxembourg task force.
André Losch Foundation: A long-standing relationship with research

André Losch created the foundation in 2009 with a general mission to support philanthropic projects in Luxembourg, with a particular focus on the fields of education, social cohesion, scientific research and health.

Since then, the foundation has continuously supported biomedical research projects in the Grand-Duchy, most of them studying childhood diseases.

In 2014 it supported a project of a young PhD student at the Luxembourg University who investigated the role of gut microbes on the health and development of newborn babies. As the base-support of the project didn’t suffice to carry out the project at a large enough scale, André Losch Fondation stepped in, recognising the importance of this research topic. Thanks to the foundation’s substantial donation, the study was carried out successfully and resulted in a Nature Communications publication providing global visibility of this project’s research outcomes.

In 2015, shortly before his death, Mr Losch wanted to get more involved in the national effort to support Parkinson’s disease patients. Through his foundation, he donated a customized laboratory on wheels, allowing nurses to do home visits to Parkinson’s patients who participate in the national cohort study. More recently André Losch Fondation supported research on rare childhood diseases in the laboratory of Dr Carole Linster at the University’s LCSB. Building on this trusted and long-standing relationship with the academic community, André Losch Fondation has now joined the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The object of our foundation is to support philanthropic projects within the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg.

“Our board felt strongly about the importance to make a significant contribution to the national research effort during this crises. This perfectly fits our mission to contribute to social cohesion in Luxembourg, while at the same time supporting young local researchers in their important COVID-19 research.

Pit Reckinger, chairman of the foundation’s board.
About the Losch Foundation

André Losch Foundation is a Luxembourg foundation reconnue d’utilité publique created in 2009 and supporting philanthropic projects in the fields of education, scientific research, health and social cohesion. It was founded by André Losch, a Luxembourg entrepreneur, and according to his will, it is active exclusively within the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. For more information www.loschfoundation.lu

Press contact

Didier Goossens, didier.goossens@fnr.lu

Categories
Covid-19 taskforce

Economic effects of Covid-19 in Luxembourg

First RECOVid working note with preliminary estimates

A note produced jointly by researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER), the University of Luxembourg and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (STATEC) within the framework of the Task Force set up by Research Luxembourg


The socioeconomic aspects of this crisis are crucial for society. Epidemiologists and virologists have recommended home-quarantine measures and general lockdowns to slow down the spread of the virus and flatten the infection curve. These social-distancing measures have been perceived as necessary to avoid overloading hospital capacity and its tragic/ethical consequences. By preventing workers from working and consumers from consuming, lockdown measures are likely to lead to a severe recession. This being said, a vast majority of economists – who are sometimes criticized for developing dehumanized models – have unanimously supported these measures, placing human factors above all and defining the containment of the pandemic as the utmost priority.


In this note, RECOV id- a group of economists based in Luxembourg who join forces to assist the Task Force for the Coordination of the Public Research Sector in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Work Package 7 led by Aline Muller, CEO of the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)) – aims to rough out the subject and provide knowledge on the economic issues related to the Covid-19 crisis and to suggest plans of actions to mitigate economic damages from Covid-19. Yet, lack of hindsight and information available for research at present makes any forecasting exercise difficult.


This document provides a summary of ongoing research, proceed to back-of-the-envelope estimations of the “direct” economic impact of the health crisis and resulting policy measures, anticipate forces that may drive to a breakdown of the global economic system, discuss the policy options that are available to decision makers to mitigate the short-run costs and the risk of a systemic collapse, and provide suggestions for future research.

Download the press release (en/fr)

The full version of this press release is also available on LISER website (www.liser.lu).

Economic effects of Covid-19 in Luxembourg (First RECOVid working note with preliminary estimates)

Economic effects of Covid-19 in Luxembourg (Synthesis of the RECOVid working note)

Press contact: Didier Goossens, didier.goossens@fnr.lu Carole Wiscour-Conter, carole.wiscour-conter@liser.lu

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Covid-19 taskforce

Testing asymptomatic individuals to assess COVID-19 spread in Luxembourg

The Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force announces the launch of “CON-VINCE ”, a study that aims to evaluate the dynamics of the spread of the COVID-19 disease within the Luxembourgish population.
The project is one of the several initiatives put in place under the aegis of the task force to help contain the current pandemic. It will test about 1,500 people for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and follow-up only the asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic individuals. This will generate accurate data on the transmission of the disease, ultimately assisting policy-makers in taking evidence-based decisions over the course of the coming weeks.

Asymptomatic individuals – often referred to as “silent carriers” – and mildly symptomatic carriers play a significant role in the spread of the virus. However, they currently remain largely unassessed, since diagnostic testing is performed predominantly on people with clear COVID-19 symptoms. In order to put in place effective measures to stave off the COVID-19 infection, it is crucial to systematically test a representative sample of the population in order to identify all individuals carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, regardless of their symptoms.

In this context, “CON-VINCE” has been launched today with the aim of testing a panel of approximately 1,500 participants over the age of 18 and detecting the three main groups of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic people. Specifically, these include:
  • individuals who are “virus-free” and therefore asymptomatic;
  • people who are currently infected but present mild or no symptoms;
  • and those who were infected but are at present free of the virus.

Panel participants will be recruited by TNS Ilres and tested for SARS-CoV-2 through a specific molecular biology technique[1]. The analyses will initially be carried out on collected nasal and pharyngeal swabs, and subsequently extended to blood and other sample types. Participants testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 but displaying mild or no symptoms will be followed up over one year, together with virus-free individuals. Conversely, symptomatic patients will be excluded from the study and undergo regular treatment instead.

“To the best of our knowledge, asymptomatic carriers are not systematically monitored in any of the countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, at present, no comprehensive data on the epidemiology and dynamics of the disease exist. CON-VINCE aims to fill this gap by providing reliable information on the nature, prevalence and transmission modality of COVID-19 in the Grand Duchy, therefore guiding national and international decision-makers in mounting an effective public health, political and economic response to the pandemic”, explains Prof Rejko Krüger, Director of Transversal Translational Medicine at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)[2] and coordinator of the “CON-VINCE” study.  

“In parallel, the project will also allow us to track the psychological and socio-economic impact of long-term containment measures on the general population and help us define clearer timeframes for lifting the current stringent confinement strategies”, concludes Prof Ulf Nehrbass, Chief Executive Officer at LIH and spokesperson of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force.

“The CON-VINCE study represents the logical next step of the extensive testing of our population to better prevent the spread of the virus. We continue to put huge efforts to gather the best information in order to get ahead of the virus”, adds Minister of Health Paulette Lenert.

The “CON-VINCE” study is led by a consortium of Luxembourgish research institutions, including LIH and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg. The Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) is co-funding the study with an amount of 1.4 million Euro. The market research company TNS-ILRES, Ketterthill, Laboratoires Réunis and BioneXt Lab are associated partners in this study.

“Thanks to the task force that was launched two weeks ago, the public research institutions in Luxembourg have joined forces in the fight against COVID-19 and can provide valuable support and knowledge to help us make data-based decisions. The CON-VINCE study will be one of the key elements for an empirical basis in the handling of the current crisis.”

Claude Meisch, Minister of Higher Education and Research.

Communicated by Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Research Luxembourg

Press contact: Didier Goossens, didier.goossens@fnr.lu


[1] To be noted that the diagnostic approach of the study is for research purposes only, and does not replace nor take resources from  regular care-based diagnostics. Participants testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 will undergo a confirmatory regular care-based diagnostic test in accredited laboratories. 

[2] Prof Krüger’s additional affiliations are as follows: FNR PEARL Chair and Head; Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg; Coordinator National Center for Excellence in Research – Parkinson’s disease (NCER-PD), Parkinson Research Clinic, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg.


Tests de dépistage sur des personnes asymptomatiques afin d’évaluer la propagation du COVID-19 au Luxembourg

Lancement de l’étude CON-VINCE

La task force COVID-19 de l’initiative Research Luxembourg annonce le lancement de CON-VINCE,  une étude scientifique visant à évaluer les dynamiques de la propagation du COVID-19 dans la population luxembourgeoise. Ce projet s’inscrit dans le cadre de plusieurs initiatives lancées sous l’égide de la task force afin de contribuer à endiguer la pandémie. Il vise à effectuer des tests de dépistage du virus SARS-CoV-2 sur environ 1.500 personnes et de faire un suivi des personnes ne présentant pas ou peu de symptômes. Il permettra de générer des données précises sur la transmission de la maladie et aidera ainsi le gouvernement à prendre des décisions basées sur des données scientifiques dans le courant des semaines à venir.  

Les personnes asymptomatiques – également appelées “porteurs sains” – et les porteurs présentant de faibles symptômes jouent un rôle important dans la propagation du virus. Cependant, la plupart de ces cas ne sont actuellement pas diagnostiqués, étant donné que les tests de dépistage sont surtout effectués sur des personnes présentant des symptômes clairs de la maladie. Afin de mettre en place des mesures efficaces pour endiguer la propagation du COVID-19, il est essentiel d’effectuer des tests systématiques sur un échantillon représentatif de la population afin d’identifier tous les porteurs du virus SARS-CoV-2, indépendamment de leurs symptômes.

Dans ce contexte, l’étude CON-VINCE a été lancée aujourd’hui dans le but d’effectuer des tests de dépistage sur un groupe d’environ 1.500 participants âgés de plus de 18 ans et d’identifier les trois principaux groupes de personnes présentant des symptômes faibles ou nuls. Spécifiquement, il s’agit des groupes suivants:

  • les individus non infectés et ne présentant par conséquent pas de symptômes ;
  • les personnes actuellement infectées, mais ne présentant pas ou peu de symptômes ;
  • ceux qui étaient infectés mais sont désormais guéris du virus.

Les participants seront recrutés par TNS Ilres et soumis à un test de dépistage du virus SARS-CoV-2 ayant recours à une technique spécifique de biologie moléculaire[1]. Les analyses seront initialement réalisées sur des prélèvements naso-pharyngés et ultérieurement étendues à des échantillons de sang ou autres types d’échantillons. Les participants dont le test est positif, mais qui présentent des symptômes faibles ou nuls seront suivis sur une période d’un an, de même que les personnes non-infectées. Les patients symptomatiques seront par contre exclus de l’étude et recevront le traitement habituel.

Prof. Rejko Krüger (Director of Transversal Translational Medicine au Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) et coordinateur de l’étude CON-VINCE : « A notre connaissance, les porteurs asymptomatiques ne sont pas systématiquement suivis dans aucun des pays affectés par la pandémie du COVID-19. Pour cette raison, il n’y a pas actuellement de données exhaustives sur l’épidémiologie et les dynamiques de la maladie. L’étude CON-VINCE vise à combler cette lacune en fournissant des informations fiables sur la nature, la prévalence et les modalités de transmission du COVID-19 au Grand-Duché, aidant ainsi les décideurs nationaux et internationaux à adopter une réponse efficace d’un point de vue politique, économique et de santé publique ».

Prof. Ulf Nehrbass (directeur général du LIH et porte-parole de la task force COVID-19 de Research Luxembourg) : « En parallèle, le projet nous permettra d’évaluer l’impact psychologique et socio-économique de mesures de confinement à long terme sur la population générale and nous aidera à définir un cadre temporel plus clair pour lever les actuelles stratégies de confinement strictes ».

Paulette Lenert, ministre de la Santé: « L’étude CON-VINCE représente la prochaine étape logique pour atteindre un vaste dépistage de la population, afin d’éviter la propagation du virus. Nous continuons à faire de grands efforts pour recueillir les informations les plus pertinentes pour pouvoir devancer le virus ».

L’étude CON-VINCE est menée par un consortium d’institutions de recherche luxembourgeoises, incluant le LIH et le Luxembourg Centre of Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) de l’Université du Luxembourg. L’institut d’étude de marché TNS-Ilres ainsi que les laboratoires Ketterthill, Laboratoires Réunis et BioneXt Lab sont des partenaires associés de l’étude.

Claude Meisch, ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche : « Grâce à la task force lancée il y a deux semaines, les institutions de recherche publiques au Luxembourg ont rassemblé leurs forces dans la lutte contre le COVID-19 et peuvent nous fournir un soutien et des connaissances essentielles afin que nous puissions prendre des décisions basées sur des données scientifiques. L’étude CON-VINCE sera un des éléments-clé d’une base empirique pour la gestion de cette crise ».  

Communiqué par le Ministère de la Santé, le Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche et Research Luxembourg

Contact presse: Didier Goossens, didier.goossens@fnr.lu

Info pour les journalistes

A propos de l’échantillon statistiquement représentatif

Le choix des participants de cet échantillon doit refléter exactement la composition de la population luxembourgeoise en termes d’âge, de sexe et de géographie afin d’éviter des résultats biaisés et statistiquement inexacts. Pour cette raison, le LIH contactera directement les candidats éligibles pour participer à l’étude. A ce stade, la participation de volontaires de la population générale n’est malheureusement pas (encore) possible.

A propos de Research Luxembourg

Research Luxembourg est une initiative commune des principaux acteurs de la recherche publique luxembourgeoise [Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH); Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER); Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST); Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) ; Université du Luxembourg; Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR)], sous la coordination du ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, dont le but principal est de promouvoir la coopération scientifique au Luxembourg et de communiquer les activités du secteur dans son ensemble.


[1] Il est à noter que l’approche diagnostique de l’étude sert à des fins de recherche uniquement et ne remplace pas et n’utilise pas de ressources du dépistage habituel à des fins de soins. Les participants testés positifs au virus SARS-CoV-2 seront soumis au test de dépistage habituel dans un laboratoire accrédité afin de confirmer le diagnostic.  


Abschätzung der Verbreitung von Covid-19 durch Testen asymptomatischer Personen

Die “CON-VINCE”-Studie beginnt

Die Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Arbeitsgruppe teilt mit, dass die „CON-VINCE[1]”-Studie beginnt, bei der die Dynamik der Verbreitung der Covid-19 Krankheit in der luxemburgischen Bevölkerung untersucht wird. Dieses Projekt ist eine von zahlreichen Initiativen unter der Schirmherrschaft der Arbeitsgruppe um dabei zu helfen die aktuelle Pandemie einzudämmen. Im Zuge der Studie werden etwa 1.500 Personen auf Vorhandensein des SARS-CoV-2 Virus getestet wobei lediglich die asymptomatischen und mild verlaufenden Fälle weiter verfolgt werden. Dies wird die Erhebung von Daten über den genauen Verbreitungsverlauf der Krankheit ermöglichen, was Entscheidungsträgern dabei helfen kann faktenbasierte Entscheidungen im Verlauf der nächsten Wochen zu treffen.

Asymptomatische Personen – oft auch als „stille Überträger“ bezeichnet – sowie Patienten mit nur milden Symptomen spielen eine entscheidende Rolle bei der Verbreitung des Virus. Bislang sind diese Gruppen jedoch nur wenig untersucht worden, da sich die diagnostischen Tests hauptsächlich auf Menschen mit klaren Covid-19 Symptomen konzentrieren. Um effektive Maßnahmen zur Abwehr der Covid-19 Infektion ergreifen zu können, ist es jedoch entscheidend systematisch eine repräsentative Stichprobe aus der Bevölkerung zu testen, um Träger des SARS-CoV-2 Virus unabhängig von ihren Symptomen zu identifizieren.

In diesem Kontext wurde heute die „CON-VINCE” ins Leben gerufen, die zum Ziel hat eine Gruppe[2]  aus etwa 1.500 volljährigen Teilnehmern zu testen und die drei Hauptgruppen der asymptomatischen oder mild symptomatischen Patienten zu identifizieren. Im Einzelnen beinhalten diese Gruppen:

  • Personen die frei von Virus und daher asymptomatisch sind
  • Menschen, die zwar mit dem Virus infiziert sind, jedoch nur milde oder keine Symptome zeigen
  • Patienten, die infiziert wurden, jetzt jedoch frei von dem Virus sind

Teilnehmer an der Studie werden durch das TNS Ilres rekrutiert und mithilfe einer speziellen molekularbiologischen Technik auf das SARS-CoV-2 Virus getestet[3].. Für die Analysen werden zunächst Abstriche aus Nase- und Rachenraum verwendet, später werden auch andere Tests durchgeführt wie beispielsweise Blutuntersuchungen. Teilnehmer, die positiv auf SARS-CoV-2 getestet wurden, jedoch nur milde oder keine Symptome aufweisen sowie auch Virus-freie Personen werden ein Jahr lang weiter beobachtet. Im Gegenzug dazu werden Patienten mit deutlichen Symptomen der Krankheit von dieser Studie ausgeschlossen und erhalten eine reguläre Behandlung.

„Nach unserem derzeitigen Wissensstand werden asymptomatische Überträger in keinem der der Covid-19 betroffenen Länder systematisch verfolgt. Daher stehen zu Zeit auch noch keine umfassenden Daten zur Epidemiologie und der Dynamik des Krankheitsverlaufes zur Verfügung. CON-VINCE zielt darauf ab, diese Lücke durch Bereitstellung verlässlicher Informationen über die Natur, Verbreitung und Art des Virus im Großherzogtum zu schließen, um hierdurch nationale und internationale Entscheidungsträger dabei zu unterstützen, ein effektives Gesundheitssystem sowie ökonomische und politische Maßnahmen zu implementieren“, erklärt Prof. Rejko Krüger, Direktor der Transversalen Transnationalen Medizin am Luxembourg Institute of Health LIH)[4] und Koordinator der „CON-VINCE“-Studie.

„Parallel hierzu wird dieses Projekt es uns auch ermöglichen, psychologische und sozialökonomische Folgen der Langzeit-Eindämmungsmaßnahmen auf die allgemeine Bevölkerung zu analysieren und dabei helfen klare Zeitrahmen zur Lockerung der aktuellen stringenten Isolationsmaßnahmen zu definieren“, ergänzt Prof. Ulf Nehrbass, Geschäftsführer des LIH und Sprecher der Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Arbeitsgruppe.

“Die CON-VINCE-Studie stellt den nächsten logischen Schritt der umfangreichen Tests an unserer Bevölkerung dar, um die Ausbreitung des Virus besser zu verhindern. Wir unternehmen weiterhin große Anstrengungen, um die besten Informationen zu sammeln, damit wir das Virus besser bekämpfen können”, fügt Gesundheitsministerin Paulette Lenert hinzu.

Die “CON-VINCE”-Studie wird von einem Konsortium luxemburgischer Forschungseinrichtungen geleitet, darunter das LIH und das Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) der Universität Luxemburg. Der Nationale Forschungsfonds Luxemburgs (FNR) kofinanziert die Studie mit einem Betrag von 1,4 Millionen Euro. Das Marktforschungsunternehmen TNS-ILRES, Ketterthill, Laboratoires Réunis und BioneXt Lab sind assoziierte Partner dieser Studie.

Pressekontakt: Didier Goossens, didier.goossens@fnr.lu

__________________________________

Information für Journalisten

Die Auswahl der Studienteilnehmer muss dabei die Gesellschaftsstruktur der luxemburgischen Bevölkerung im Hinblick auf Alter, Geschlecht und Geographie abbilden, um eine Verzerrung der Ergebnisse und statistische Ungenauigkeiten zu vermeiden. Daher wird das LIH die in Frage kommenden Personen direkt kontaktieren, um an der Studie teilzunehmen. Zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt ist die Teilnahme von Freiwilligen aus der Allgemeinbevölkerung leider (noch) nicht möglich.

Über Research Luxembourg

Research Luxembourg ist eine gemeinschaftliche Initiative der Hauptakteure der öffentlichen Forschung in Luxemburg: Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH); Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER); Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST); Laboratoire national de santé (LNS); University of Luxembourg; Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), koordiniert durch das Ministerium für Hochschulwesen und Forschung. Das Hauptanliegen dieser Initiative ist es, die wissenschaftliche Kooperation in Luxemburg zu unterstützen und die Arbeit des gesamten Sektors nach außen zu kommunizieren.


[1] COvid-19 National survey for assessing VIral spread by Non-affected CarriErs

[2] Die Auswahl der Studienteilnehmer muss dabei die Gesellschaftsstruktur der luxemburgischen Bevölkerung im Hinblick auf Alter, Geschlecht und Geographie abbilden, um eine Verzerrung der Ergebnisse und statistische Ungenauigkeiten zu vermeiden.

[3] Es sei darauf hingewiesen, dass der diagnostische Aspekt dieser Studie lediglich für Forschungszwecke dient und keine reguläre medizinische Untersuchung ersetzt. Teilnehmer, die positive auf das SARS-CoV-2 Virus getestet wurden, werden einer zusätzlichen medizinischen Untersuchung in akkreditierten Laboren unterzogen. 

[4] Die weitern Affiliationen von Prof. Krüger sind: FNR PEARL Leitung und Vorsitz; Klinische und experimentelle Neurowissenschaften, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), Universität Luxemburg; Koordinator am National Center for Excellence in Research – Parkinson’s disease (NCER-PD), Parkinson-Forschungsklinik, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg.

Categories
Covid-19 taskforce

COVID-19: Launch of FNR fast-track Call

In the framework of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force activities, the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) has launched a special fast-track Call to provide initial funding for research projects on COVID-19, with a first deadline of Tuesday, 14 April 2020. The aim is to (co-)support short-term projects, or the starting phase of long-term projects. In order to be eligible for the FNR Call, short descriptions of project ideas must first be published on the lux-covid-19.lu platform by 8 April.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our society, and has impacted humanity on individual, economic, and social levels. The Luxembourg research community has quickly sprung to action in light of the pandemic: Luxembourgish scientists have the experience and ability to contribute to the world-wide efforts to fight this virus.

The FNR wishes to support researchers so that they can make an impact, both in Luxembourg and on a global scale. To this end, we have launched this fast fast-track call to support both short-term projects and starting phases of long-term projects that will address the current and future challenges of COVID-19.”

 – Marc Schiltz, FNR Secretary General

Through this Call, the FNR will provide funding of up to 50,000 EUR for a maximum period of 6 months. The first COVID-19 call submission deadline will be on 14 April 2020, 18:00 CET. For proposals that require a longer preparation time, e.g. to merge similar project ideas or to coordinate multidisciplinary teams, a second submission deadline will be on 11 May 2020, 18:00 CET.

Visit the FNR COVID-19 programme page and download the guidelines

Categories
Covid-19 taskforce

COVID-19: Launch of national platform, FNR Call in the making

As researchers work on numerous new projects to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, Research Luxembourg has launched a national COVID-19 platform to coordinate research projects and collaborations. The FNR will soon open a special fast-track Call for proposals to support research efforts.

The Luxembourg research community has reacted rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating also a need for coordination and collaboration. Research Luxembourg (University, LIH, LISER, LIST, FNR, Ministry of Higher Education and Research) has therefore launched a national COVID-19 platform. This website will support the research community, facilitate exchange and the identification of synergies.

On top of giving a good overview of COVID-19 research in Luxembourg, this centralised platform aims at fostering collaboration and communication.

The different parts of the platform allow researchers to:

  • Submit project ideas
  • Browse ongoing projects
  • Browse submitted open ideas
  • Share and discuss new ideas (under construction)

FNR funding

The Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) will shortly announce a special fast-track Call to provide initial funding for research projects on COVID-19, with a deadline of 9 April. The aim is to (co-)support short-term projects, or the starting phase of long-term projects. In order to be eligible for the FNR Call, short descriptions of project ideas must first be published on the COVID-19 platform.

Categories
Covid-19 taskforce

COVID-19: Research Luxembourg is mobilising

Research Luxembourg, a joint initiative of the main players in Luxembourg’s public research sector, is mobilising its knowledge and its human and material resources to help address the challenge of COVID-19. A task force has been set up in order to offer the health system the combined expertise available within the Luxembourg public research sector (LIH, LISER, LIST, LNS, University, FNR, under the coordination of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research).
The missions of this working group are:
  • Coordinate the provision of support from the national research community to healthcare providers and the government in order to contain the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Help identify and centralise a variety of priority activities, leveraging on the cross-sectoral expertise in molecular biology, epidemiology, clinical trials and fundamental research
  • Be the point of contact between the national research ecosystem, the clinical community and the authorities
The task force will focus on three pillars:

– a prevalence study to assess the extent of the spread of the virus and the number of asymptomatic individuals;

– a stratification study in which researchers attempt to identify risk factors that contribute negatively to disease progression;

– statistical simulations on the evolution, impact and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide short- and medium-term projections and thus facilitate decision-making on when restrictions could be lifted.

Concrete actions have already been put in place. Research institutions have provided the health sector with equipment and specialised personnel. In this context, it is worthwhile mentioning the important mobilisation of doctors in training in the framework of the “formation spécifique en médecine générale”. Indeed, many of these future general practitioners have volunteered to support hospital staff in the four hospital establishments in Luxembourg.

To enable this initiative, the government, with the support of the University of Luxembourg and the doctors involved in this training, has adjusted the relevant regulatory framework and adopted the necessary measures to enable the deployment of these volunteers in the coming days. Likewise, nurses working in research as well as students in medicine are also being trained to support hospital staff.

Due to the international pressure exerted by governments and research funding agencies, almost all scientific data and publications on COVID-19 are freely accessible in digital form (machine readable). This data is a very valuable resource, easily amenable to text and data mining using artificial intelligence techniques. This is an area in which Luxembourg has strong expertise.

To accelerate these efforts and to stimulate new ideas and new collaborations between researchers, additional funding will be provided by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). Given the urgency of the situation, quick funding decisions will be ensured.