Research on COVID-19


Events, activities and publications by members of Academia Europaea and Young Academy of Europe#

The Board of Academia Europaea calls on its members for information about events, activities and published papers relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. A summary of papers received to date is listed below.

Request for further contributions#

We welcome further contributions from MAEs. Please email

Latest: #

Jean-Pierre Changeux MAE (in collaboration with Zahir Amoura, Felix A. Rey and Makoto Miyara) published a paper titled ‘A nicotinic hypothesis for Covid-19 with preventive and therapeutic implications’. The paper hypothesizes that the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) plays a key role in the pathophysiology of Covid-19 infection and might represent a target for the prevention and control of Covid-19 infection. Read more.

Paul Morgan MAE, in collaboration with others, has published the following papers:

Biomedical Research#

Vincenzo Greco MAE published a paper titled ‘Transmission of airborne virus through sneezed and coughed droplets’ (in collaboration with Santosh K. Das, Jan-e Alam and Salvatore Plumari). The paper discusses the evolution of droplets in space and time under varying external conditions of temperature, humidity, and wind flow. This paper offers useful information for preventing the spread of other types of droplets containing microorganisms. Read more.

Peter Hegyi MAE (in collaboration with Czumbel, Kiss, Farkas, Mandel, A. Hegyi, Nagy, Lohinai, Szakács, Steward and Varga) published the paper titled ‘Saliva as a Candidate for COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing: A Meta-Analysis’. This study offers evidence for saliva tests as a promising alternative to nasopharyngeal swab tests for COVID-19 diagnosis. Read more.

Peter Hegyi MAE (in collaboration with Földi, Farkas, Kiss, Zádori, Váncsa, Szakó, Dembrovszky, Solymár, Bartalis, Szakács, Hartmann, Pár, Erõss, Molnár, Szentesi) published the paper titled ‘Obesity is a risk factor for developing critical condition in COVID-19 patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis’. The authors examined obesity as a risk factor for critical COVID-19 patients. This is the first meta-analysis about this topic. Read more.

José López-Barneo MAE, in collaboration with others published a paper titled ‘Is carotid body infection responsible for silent hypoxemia in COVID-19 patients?’. The authors propose a mechanism that may explain the low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream of patients with severe COVID-19. Read more.

Sylviane Muller MAE and others published a paper titled ‘Autophagy as an emerging target for COVID-19: lessons from an old friend, chloroquine’. Autophagy is the body’s mechanism to degrade and recycle old cellular components (organelles, proteins and cell membranes). The authors discuss how chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) inhibit autophagy and could have potential therapeutic value in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Read more.

Sylviane Muller MAE in collaboration with others published a paper titled ‘Neutrophilia and NETopathy as key pathologic drivers of progressive lung impairment in patients with COVID-19’. Severely ill patients experience acute respiratory distress with high levels of neutrophils and multiple cytokines causing an exaggerated inflammatory response. In this review, the authors discuss the need to develop therapies that inhibit neutrophil recruitment, activation, degranulation, and neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) release. Read more.

The COVID Human Genetic Effort is an international consortium of scientists around the world aiming to discover genetic differences between young patients with no underlying medical conditions that develop severe COVID-19 and patients that remain resistant even after repeated exposure to SARS-CoV2. Guiseppe Novelli MAE is part of the consortium and co-author of the paper ‘Inborn errors of type I IFN immunity in patients with life-threatening COVID-19’. The paper was published in the journal Science.

Guiseppe Novelli MAE in collaboration with Emilio Di Maria, Andrea Latini and Paola Borgiani carried out a systematic review titled ‘Genetic variants of the human host influencing the coronavirus-associated phenotypes (SARS, MERS and COVID-19): rapid systematic review and field synopsis’. This is the first comprehensive review exploring the current knowledge of the wide spectrum of phenotypes associated SARS-CoV2 infection going from absence of symptoms to severe systemic complications. Read more.

Guiseppe Novelli MAE led a pilot study in a cohort of 131 Italian patients with the aim to determine if genetic variations on the AC2 receptor, the cellular receptor that binds SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein, could explain differences in the susceptibility and severity of infection in COVID-19 clinical cases. The results of this study were published in the paper titled ‘Analysis of ACE2 genetic variants in 131 Italian SARS-CoV-2-positive patients’. Read more.

Guiseppe Novelli MAE in collaboration with others published a paper titled ‘COVID-19 and genetic variants of proteins involved in the SARS-CoV-2 entry into the host cells’. In this study the authors analysed a cohort of 131 Italian patients looking for variations in the genes coding for other proteins involved in the SARS-CoV-2 infecting human cells. Read more.

Guiseppe Novelli MAE and others published a paper titled ‘COVID-19 update: the first 6 months of the pandemic’. This review offers a useful summary of strategies for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in democratic countries. It includes information on the virus, how it affects humans, the routes of transmission and therapies for the disease. This pandemic playbook is a useful resource in the current pandemic and will be useful in the future when another pandemic might arise. Read more.

Guiseppe Novelli MAE is part of the COVID Human Genetic Effort and co-author of the paper ‘Life-threatening COVID-19: defective interferonsunleash excessive inflammation’. This paper discusses how severe COVID-19 pneumonia increases sharply after 65 years of age and how genetic defects as well as autoantibodies against type I interferons contribute to disease severity in at least 10% of critical cases. Read more.

Valerie O’Donnell MAE, in collaboration with others, published an evidence review titled ‘Potential role of oral rinses targeting the viral lipid envelope in SARS-CoV-2 infection’. This review examines published research on enveloped viruses including coronaviruses, showing that chemicals found in mouthwashes can damage the lipid membrane of enveloped viruses. The authors assessed existing mouthwash formulations for their potential ability to damage the SARS-CoV-2 lipid envelope in vitro. The evidence suggests the use of mouthwash could be an effective defence against COVID-19 and further research in this area is needed. This review was the first paper published by the journal FUNCTION. Read more

Ole Petersen MAE describes, in a peer-reviewed article published in FUNCTION, an entirely unexpected link between SARS-COV-2 infection and physiological calcium signalling, thereby providing new insights into the mechanism by which this virus enters the cells in our body. Read more.

Bernard Rossier MAE and Martina Gentzsch published a paper titled ‘A pathophysiological model for COVID-19: Critical importance of transepithelial sodium transport upon airway infection’. The authors propose a mechanism that could explain how SARS-CoV-2 enters the airways during the early stages of infection and the possible role of epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) in the process. This opinion paper was published in the journal FUNCTION.

Luca Steardo MAE, Robert Zorec MAE and Alex Verkhratsky MAE, have published a commentary entitled ‘Neuroinfection may contribute to pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of COVID-19’. Read more.

In a review titled ‘Psychiatric face of COVID-19’ by Luca Steardo Jr, Luca Steardo MAE and Alex Verkhratsky MAE, the authors discuss the serious clinical challenges posed by COVID-19 systemic inflammation that can affect the central nervous system and aggravate mental health disorders. Read more.

Alex Verkhratsky MAE and others published a review titled ‘Neuropathobiology of COVID-19: The Role for Glia’. The authors discuss the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to enter cells of the central nervous system causing severe neurological inflammation that can result in deficient immune responses and autoimmunity. The consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection during ageing and pregnancy are also discussed. Read more.

Alex Verkhratsky MAE, Gerry Melino MAE, Yufang Shi MAE and others published a paper titled ‘Can COVID-19 pandemic boost the epidemic of neurodegenerative diseases?’. In this review the authors discuss how SARS-CoV-2 directly infects brain cells, causing severe systemic inflammation. Clinical neurological symptoms include dizziness, disturbed sleep, cognitive deficit, hallucinations and depression. COVID-19 damage to neural cells may increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. Read more.

Science and Research#

Prof. Álvaro de Rújula, MAE, of CERN, Geneva, and the Institute of Theoretical Physics, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) organized the webinar "The Higgs Boson and the Coronavirus (Basic Science after the Pandemic)". The webinar was held on Thursday, June 4, 2020, at 4:00 pm CET. Read more.

Economics, Business and Management Sciences#

Desheng Dash Wu, MAE, is a co-editor of the special issue on "Decision Support Systems on Data Analytics and Decision-Making Systems: Implications of the Global Outbreaks": Call for papers. Deadline for submission: 30 December 2020.

Desheng Dash Wu, MAE, is a co-editor of the special issue on "Global Systemic Risk and Resilience for novel Coronavirus and COVID-19” to be published in "Risk Analysis": Call for papers. Deadline for submission: 30 November, 2020.

Desheng Dash Wu, MAE, Hur kan supply chain effekterna av covid-19 hanteras? ("How can the supply chain effects of covid-19 be handled?") Supply Chain Effect. 2 (2020) 26–27. (in Swedish)

Klaus F. Zimmermann Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Population Economics, has published three research articles on COVID-19 in issue 1/2021 and has presented the Kuznets Prize 2021 to a Chinese research team for an article published in issue 4/2020 of the Journal. For a report and a video of the public event, click here.

Klaus F. Zimmermann was co-organiser of the virtual conference on ‘The Economics of COVID-19‘. The conference was jointly organised by The Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR) at Jinan University and the Global Labor Organization (GLO). The meeting provided a platform for economists to exchange ideas on the pressing economic issues arising during the global pandemic.

Klaus F. Zimmermann was also co-organiser of a Virtual Workshop on COVID-19 which took place on 23rd November 2020. The Workshop was hosted by the Central European University (CEU) and its CEU School of Public Policy (Vienna, Austria), and was organised by the Economics, Business and Management Sciences section of the Academia Europaea. The event was supported by the Global Labor Organization (GLO). Read the final event report.

Klaus F. Zimmermann leads the Global Labor Organization (GLO) Thematic Cluster Coronavirus. The cluster facilitates efforts of members of the GLO network to understand the challenges of the new virus and to support the development of strategies to manage it and to learn for future pandemics.

Klaus F. Zimmermann is coordinating the GLO Cluster on COVID-19, which facilitates efforts of members of the GLO network to understand the challenges of the new virus and to support the development of strategies to manage it and to learn for future pandemics. The GLO Cluster is concerned with activities like research papers, events, interviews, and media activities. Klaus F. Zimmermann MAE is the President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO), a global network of over 1,600 social scientists (many of them are MAEs) around the world in over 120 countries. Read more (Access to research papers.)

Klaus F. Zimmermann is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Population Economics, the leading outlet in its field. The open access journal offers rapid evaluation of academic research on COVID-19.

The first published paper assesses the Chinese experience of social and economic factors behind the pandemic crisis and illustrates the China experience with the crisis, which can serve as a reference case for further studies on China and other countries in the world:
"Impacts of Social and Economic Factors on the Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China” by Qiu, Yun & Chen, Xi & Shi, Wei. Published online, forthcoming: Journal of Population Economics, Issue 4, 2020. Open access.
Read more (Access of the paper and author interview.)

Klaus F. Zimmermann has also been responsible for the publication of three articles related to COVID. These are:

Klaus F. Zimmermann MAE, Gokhan Karabulut, Mehmet Huseyin Bilgin and Asli Cansin Doker (2020), “Inter-country Distancing, Globalization and the Coronavirus Pandemic“, The World Economy, Vol. 43, forthcoming, doi:10.1111/twec.12969.

Social sciences#

Ulrich Becker MAE and his research group published a paper titled ‘Protecting livelihoods in the COVID-19 crisis’. In this working paper, the authors examine and compare legal governmental measures in relation to employment, the economy and social protection in Germany, Denmark, England, France and Italy. This paper is part of the Working Papers Law series published by the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy. Read more.

Kathrin Golda-Pongratz MAE in her guest article ‘Dignified housing (in times of pandemic and beyond)’ discusses how lockdown during COVID19 pandemic has exposed inequalities and lack of access to adequate housing. This article was first published in Spanish in The Conversation, a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by academics and researchers. Read more

Chris Hann MAE considers the impact of the pandemic on labour mobility, home working and householding, as part of a blog series for COMPAS, the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society, a research centre at the University of Oxford. Read more.

Wenxuan Hou MAE and others published a paper titled ‘Epidemic Disease and Financial Development’. In this paper the authors look at the impact of epidemics on long-term financial development, using the example of the Tse Tse fly, which spreads an epidemic disease that is harmful to humans and fatal to livestock. Read more.

Mirca Madianou MAE published a paper titled ‘A Second-Order Disaster? Digital Technologies During the COVID-19 Pandemic’. She discusses how digital technologies and data practices in response to COVID-19 have deepened social inequalities in the already disproportionately affected Black, Asian, minority ethnic, and working class groups. This article was published in Social Media + Society. Read more.

In a paper entitled ‘Imagined Communities and Imaginary Plots: Nationalisms, Conspiracies, and Pandemics in the Longue Durée’, Siniša Malešević MAE considers the nature of and role played by conspiracy theories during the outbreak of major pandemics. He looks at both the historical context and the current COVID-19 crisis. Read more.

Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt MAE published a paper titled ‘The ways of knowing the pandemic with the help of prompted autoethnography’. This article discusses how different forms of autoethnographic production prompted by diverse forms of academic self-expression can lead to different types of knowing. The author discusses her own reflections of motherhood, self-care, and performance in academia. This paper is part of the Massive_Microscopic project, where participants responded to 21 different prompts inviting autoethnographic reflections about COVID-19 global pandemic. Read more.

In a paper titled ‘Pandemics and Politics’, Adam Roberts MAE discusses how during a Pandemic, trust in leadership is essential because measure to control the disease from spreading require individual sacrifice for the social good. The author looks at pandemics historical context and the current COVID-19 crisis. Read more.

Jeroen van den Bergh MAE wrote an analysis article in the Spanish newspaper El Periódico. He argues that Spain can develop an integrated strategy to deal with the coronavirus crisis and promote low-carbon options. He proposes four types of taxes to achieve sustainability. Spain unlike many other European countries does not have a carbon emission tax. Read more

Jeroen van den Bergh MAE, in collaboration with Eric Galbraith, wrote a letter to Nature titled ‘Tax carbon to aid economic recovery’. In their letter they discuss how the fall in fossil-fuel prices offers governments a chance to offset the potentially massive public debt incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

In his article titled ‘COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and the “Spanish flu”: historical moments and social transformations’, Peter Wagner MAE reflects on the possibility that the COVID-19 crisis could trigger major and desirable social change.

This article is a part of the Thesis Eleven online project: Living and Thinking Crisis.
Read more.

Peter Wagner MAE reflects on the development of knowledge and COVID-19 in an essay on the platform Soziopolis, an online platform for sociology and its related disciplines. Read more [in German].

Peter Wagner MAE participated in the symposium Social World and Pandemic. The event was a joint initiative of the journal Sociologia & Antropologia, the Brazilian Society of Sociology and the Social Thought Virtual Library Blog (BVPS in Portuguese).

In his blog piece on the website of the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Roberto Casati MAE considers temporal factors and decision-making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more [in French].

Pearl Dykstra MAE, Deputy Chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, is one of the authors of an essay entitled ‘Understanding the effects of Covid-19 through a life course lens’. The paper draws on collective expertise to explore the implications of the pandemic for life transitions and trajectories, including the future development of policies and data. The domains considered cover health, personal control and planning, social relationships and family, education, work and careers, and migration and mobility. Read more.

SAPEA Food-based webinar series. The first of the series of webinars discussed changes of consumers’ attitudes towards food as a public good instead of as a commodity. It confronted the conclusions of the SAPEA report with the challenges and changes observed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Recording of the webinar available.

Data and mathematical modelling#

Guanrong Chen MAE and others published a paper titled ‘Modelling the COVID-19 pandemic using an SEIHR model with human migration’. Transmission by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals has made it more difficult to control COVID-19 disease. This paper proposes a susceptible-exposed-infected-hospitalized-removed (SEIHR) with human migrations, where the ‘‘exposed’’ (asymptomatic) individuals are contagious. The model was validated using real historical data of COVID-19 cases from different regions. The authors investigated the impact of isolation of patients compared to border control and conclude that strict isolation of infected individuals can be more effective than closing borders in controlling disease spread. [Read more|

Josep Domingo-Ferrer MAE is one of a group of scientists making recommendations on personal data and privacy in the context of COVID-19 apps, in an article in Transactions on Data Privacy. Read more

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