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Coronavirus Swiss government launches Covid-19 scientific taskforce

coronavirus scan

A picture made available by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows a transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes Covid-19, isolated from a patient.

(Keystone / Niaid/national Institutes Of Hea)

The federal authorities have set up a scientific taskforce to advise the Federal Council and to coordinate national research by universities into coronavirus. 

The “Covid-19 taskforce” will be led by Matthias Egger, president of the national research council of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the government announcedexternal link on Tuesday. 

The group will advise the government, interior ministry and other relevant federal and cantonal authorities. It will also identify areas of research and special measures or products that the Swiss scientific community could rapidly contribute to global efforts to fight the virus.

“The Swiss scientific community offers huge potential to have a positive influence on the outcome of the crisis via research, training or knowledge transfer,” the interior ministry said. 

It will aim to coordinate coronavirus research being done into diagnostic tests, healthcare, clinical research and contact-tracing via new digital applications, as well as related ethical and legal issues.

The taskforce will build on a call by the SNSF on February 25 for proposals on research into coronaviruses “to tackle the current crisis and prepare for future likely epidemics”. A sum of CHF5 million ($5.2 million) has been earmarked for projects.

The SNSF has received 270 applications, according to Swiss public radio, RTS, on Tuesday. The majority of projects were biomedical, including studies of viruses and infections, the immune response in humans and the spread of the disease.    

The selected projects “will provide a basis for the subsequent industrial development of active agents”. The grants available are CHF50,000-CHF300,000 per project. 

Keystone-SDA/sb

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