Workshop: Research Response to COVID-19 in the Nordic Countries

4 November 2021 – ONLINE

Wide-ranging experiences and implications for future research and Nordic collaboration

TIME TO LEARN

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that research preparedness and response is essential for an effective response to large-scale crises. The pandemic has underscored how research must be an integral part of the operational response, both for clinical practice and for broader public health interventions.On the one hand, the volume and speed of new research and development have been unprecedented, as has the rapid translation of research into policy and practice. For vaccine development, for example, research preparedness in terms of pre-existing technology, infrastructure, and plans has been critical.

At the same time, many knowledge gaps have remained unaddressed or have been closed only late. In many cases this can be tracked back to low levels of research preparedness. For example, few if any countries were well prepared for facilitating –  or even allowing – robust studies on the effect of public health and social interventions, such as school closures, travel restrictions, and face masks.

In yet other areas, the variation has been pronounced. Some countries had registries, cohorts, and genome sequencing capabilities ready to go when the pandemic hit, while others did not.

We should therefore examine the research response in the Nordic countries to date and consider how we can better prepare for the next crisis. We can learn from similarities as well as differences and from successes as well as failures. These lessons can be useful for the governments, research communities, and other key actors in the Nordic countries and beyond.

KEY QUESTIONS AND OBJECTIVES

Looking back, how did the research response unfold in each of the Nordic countries? What worked well, and what could have worked better? How did the Nordic countries align and differ in their responses? These questions cut across basic research, epidemiology, and interventions research. And they speak not only to the generation of new research, but also the use of this research in policy and practice.

Looking forward, what parts of our systems for research preparedness and response must most critically be improved before the next crisis hits? What can best be promoted through Nordic collaboration? And what are the specific lessons for the field of human genomics and precision medicine?

The objective of the workshop is to examine these questions and next steps.
 

WORKSHOP STRUCTURE

The first part consists of a set of presentations from each country. First, a speaker will offer an overview of key elements of the response and some preliminary lessons. Second, two speakers will each examine a specific aspect of the research response in more detail.

The second part is a panel discussion reflecting on the presentations, drawing lessons across the countries, and discussing next steps. Nordic collaboration will be highlighted.

PROGRAM COMMITTEE

Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NO), Co-chair
Kári Stefánsson, deCODE genetics (IS), Co-chair
Tove Fall, Uppsala University (SE)
Hakon Heimer, University of Copenhagen (NSHG-PM) (DK)
Páll Melsted, deCODE genetics (IS)
Lili Milani, Estonian Genome Center (EE)
Hanna Ollila, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM (FI)
Ole Pedersen, Zealand University Hospital, Køge (DK)

4 Nov

Thu

18 Speakers

1 Panel

9:00-9:15 CET

Welcome and Key Questions

Kári Stefánsson, President, NSHG-PM; Co-chair of the Organizing/Scientific committee

Camilla Stoltenberg, Co-chair of the Organizing/Scientific committee

9:15-12:45 CET

Country Presentations

Six Nordic country presentations and Q&As

Each country will feature one speaker presenting an overview on the COVID-19 response and two other speakers providing thematic deep dives (5 min each); a Q&A session will conclude each country segment (15 min)

9:15-9:45 CET

Denmark

CHAIR: Ole Birger Vesterager Pedersen, University of Copenhagen

Henrik Ullum, Statens Serum Institut - The Danish COVID-19 strategy

Tyra Grove Krause, Statens Serum Institute - The interface between COVID-19 surveillance and research

Christian Erikstrup, Aarhus University Hospital - Blood donors and COVID-19 surveillance

9:45-10:15 CET

Estonia

CHAIR: Lili Milani, Estonian Genome Center

Krista Fischer, Estonian Genome Center - Estonia overview

Pärt Peterson, University of Tartu - Immune response to BNT162b2 vaccine

Kelli Lehto, University of Tartu - Mental health and COVID-19 severity

10:15-10:45 CET

Finland

CHAIR: Hanna Ollila, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland

Matti Jantunen, Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare - Finland overview

Olli Vapalahti, University of Helsinki - The rise and fall of SARS-CoV2 lineages and variants, Finland

Hanna Ollila, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland - Understanding risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome and longCOVID

10:45-11:00 CET

Break

11:00-11:30 CET

Iceland

CHAIR: Kári Stefánsson, deCODE genetics

Kári Stefánsson, deCODE genetics - Iceland overview

Páll Melsted, deCODE genetics - The value of sequencing all SARS-CoV-2 samples

Hilma Holm, deCODE genetics - Long-term health consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection

11:30-12:00 CET

Norway

CHAIR: Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Norway overview

Arnoldo Frigessi, University of Oslo - The past and future of modelling

Atle Fretheim, Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Research on the effect of public health interventions

12:00-12:30 CET

Sweden

CHAIR: Tove Fall, Uppsala University

Anders Tegnell, Public Health Agency of Sweden - Sweden Overview

Jonas Björk, Lund University - Impact of the winter holiday 2020 on the early phase of the pandemic in Europe

Mia Phillipson, SciLifeLab - A comprehensive Covid-19 research program and pandemic laboratory preparedness – experiences from SciLifeLab, a national life science research infrastructure in Sweden

12:30-12:40 CET

Break

12:40-13:00 CET

Short Presentations from Submitted Abstracts

Tomoko Nakanishi, McGill University

Age-dependent impact of the major common genetic risk factor for COVID-19 on severity and mortality

Li Lu, University of Oslo

Mental distress before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: latent class trajectory analyses from the Norwegian MoBa cohort

13:00-13:40 CET

Panel and Q&A with Audience

Cross-country lessons, next steps, and future collaboration

Panelists:

Henrik Ullum, Statens Serum Institut
Krista Fischer, Estonian Genome Center
Matti Jantunen, Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare
Kári Stefánsson, deCODE genetics
Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Anders Tegnell, Public Health Agency of Sweden

13:40-13:50 CET

Concluding Remarks

Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Co-chair of the Organizing/Scientific committee

Kári Stefánsson, President, NSHG-PM, Co-chair of the Organizing/Scientific committee

13:50-14:00 CET

E-Poster Session

Poster presenters will be asked to be in their respective e-poster rooms for interaction with the audience.

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