The Nordic countries are joining forces to support research co-operation on COVID-19 in order to prepare for future pandemics. As a result, five new research projects are being launched that will investigate COVID-19 in relation to everything from pregnancy to smoking and psychological vulnerability. The projects will use existing health data to generate new knowledge that will help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers from across the Nordic Region and Estonia are participating in a large-scale collaborative initiative, which has been granted around NOK 53 million in funding.
“We’re incredibly pleased that the Nordic and Baltic countries have been able to mobilise funds in such a short space of time for this joint research into COVID-19 under the leadership of NordForsk. The research will be based on our unique data resources in the form of health data and health registers. This will contribute to the creation of new knowledge on how COVID-19 affects our overall health and how we can learn from the current pandemic in the future,” says Maria Nilsson, special advisor at NordForsk.
Research on pregnancy and COVID-19
One of the projects will study the course of pregnancy, due to the limited documentation currently available on pregnancy and COVID-19. Many countries have placed women in the at-risk group on a precautionary basis, recommending that they do not expose themselves to the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, especially towards the end of their pregnancy.
Researchers will study whether pregnant women are more likely to be affected by COVID-19 or become seriously ill and need hospitalisation than non-pregnant women of childbearing age. In addition, they will look at whether having COVID-19 during pregnancy increases the risk of complications, including miscarriage, and whether the mother’s illness can affect the foetus.
Director of NordForsk Arne Flåøyen stressed that the Nordic countries are in a unique position in this research into COVID-19.
“A great deal of research on COVID-19 is already underway, much of it directed at the virus, vaccine development, and the development of treatment. This is research that can be done anywhere in the world. NordForsk’s niche is research that generates Nordic synergies. With this in mind, we want to support research that can only be conducted in the Nordic Region but that will benefit the world as a whole,” says Flåøyen.
Funding behind the research
NordForsk, which reports to the Nordic Council of Ministers, is funding the research projects on COVID-19 together with a number of national research funders from across the Nordic Region and Estonia: The Swedish Research Council, the Academy of Finland, Innovation Fund Denmark, the Research Council of Norway, the Icelandic Centre for Research, and the Estonian Research Council.