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Estonia is contributing €8.1 million to COVID-19-related research and development

Studying the prevalence of the coronavirus in Estonia will give the politicians and decision-makers evidence-based data to form the strategy for the gradual exit from the emergency situation.
Studying the prevalence of the coronavirus in Estonia will give the politicians and decision-makers evidence-based data to form the strategy for the gradual exit from the emergency situation. Photo credit: Renee Altrov.
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Estonia is contributing approximately €8.1 million euros to fund COVID-19-related R&D activities.

The Estonian Research Council launched a call for ideas targeting COVID-19 related topics, relevant to the country at the beginning of April. As a result, Estonian researchers submitted 152 research ideas, and ministries and agencies submitted 37 descriptions of research needs. In cooperation with research and state agencies, the call revealed priority topics, and €4 million will be directed towards carrying out these studies. Currently, the following topics have been approved at national level:

  • ensuring supplies and the functioning of the state in a crisis situation,
  • a mental health study,
  • SARS-CoV-2 virological, immunological and epidemiological studies,
  • assessing, modelling and predicting the spread and socioeconomic impact of the virus.

The rest of the research topics to be funded from the €4 million will be decided soon.

€1.8 million is allocated to a survey conducted by University of Tartu researchers monitoring the prevalence of the coronavirus. In the cross-sectional study consisting of at least eight survey waves, the researchers will ascertain the actual prevalence of the coronavirus and the status of the epidemic in Estonia. Based on a random sample, 16,000 to 20,000 individuals will be interviewed and tested to give the politicians and decision-makers evidence-based data to form the strategy for the gradual exit from the emergency situation.

€300,000 will also be directed towards a study conducted by University of Tartu researchers to determine what proportion of people living on the island of Saaremaa and in the Õismäe district in Tallinn have been exposed to coronavirus.

Saaremaa was chosen for the study since there the COVID-19 infection rate is the highest in Estonia.
Saaremaa was chosen for the study since there the COVID-19 infection rate is the highest in Estonia. Photo credit: Rainer Süvirand

Approximately €1.5 million will be invested into procuring equipment for a BSL3 (biosafety level 3) laboratory. The lab is part of the National Centre of Translational and Clinical Research and will be managed by the University of Tartu. BSL3 laboratory will provide Estonia with the opportunity to conduct research on live samples of the virus, which in turn enables to get more information faster, as well as to perform medical tests.

€400,000 will be directed towards the participation of Estonian researchers in the collaborative research projects selected from the call “Nordic Health Data Research Projects on Covid-19” organised by NordForsk, which coordinates Nordic and Baltic collaborative research projects.

The translation of this article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

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