Key topics

Module 1: Basic aspects of SARS-CoV-2 biology, pathogenicity and immunogenicity

It is eminently important to gain a better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the pathogenicity and immunogenicity of the virus. The need to understand the interaction between the virus and the individual’s immune response is particularly fundamental in this context.

Module 2: New approaches in COVID-19 epidemiology and disease prevention

Robust epidemiological data that help us to understand the epidemic are vital in protecting the population efficiently and preventing the spread of the disease. These data are also important in evaluating the effect of protective measures. We still have no clear understanding of the routes by which the virus is transmitted or the causes of the different levels of susceptibility in the population.

Module 3: Vaccine, drug and diagnostics development

There are still no safe and effective treatments for COVID-19. We also need sensitive and robust diagnostic tools to prevent transmission and permit early pharmacological interventions. High-throughput diagnostics for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are also needed to enable us to measure the level and strength of immunity in the population. Even though the first vaccines are now available, we urgently need to find other effective and safe vaccines to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Module 4: Clinical research and therapeutic interventions

The novelty and frequency of the disease is pushing the health system to its limits. Clinical practice needs to be optimised and harmonised. There is also a lack of scientific evidence for or against the use of certain drugs. Knowledge of this kind is necessary to ensure the best possible clinical treatment of COVID-19.

Implementation projects

One objective of NRP 78 is to disseminate the research results widely and make them quickly usable for practice. Some research projects have the potential for rapid implementation; for others, implementation will take longer. For the former, NRP 78 launched an implementation programme and supports seven implementation projects that aim to deepen the results from the research projects, put them directly into practice or prepare them for future market applications.

Implementation project SNSF Special Call on Coronaviruses

The aim is to develop communication strategies that facilitate the understanding of findings from our prospective multicenter cohort study of health care workers (HCW) and support the implementation of relevant findings.