MAASTRICHT. Almost all research at the Caphri institute, most of which focusses on public health and care innovation, has been halted. This means that nearly three hundred researchers are now at home, many of whom will face delays. “At the moment, we cannot estimate the financial consequences,” says scientific director Maurice Zeegers.
The vast majority of Caphri’s research takes place outside the hospital, in the neighbourhoods, on school playgrounds, on the work floor. This usually concerns public health, a healthy lifestyle. Zeegers: “It is the kind of research for which you speak to people, interview them or observe them. Almost all of that has been stopped.”
Researchers are working at home, but they are not doing nothing. “We write articles, analyse data, and ‘zoom’ with colleagues. This will definitely cause delays, but I hope that subsidising organisations such as ZonMW will apply a ‘cost-neutral extension’. So, more research time for the same price.”
Zeegers is also thinking ahead regarding a possible lockdown. Who will be allowed to enter the buildings and who won’t? “The IT people at any rate, because they have to keep an eye on online education and research. But who else? Lab assistants?”
At the same time, the Covid-19 epidemic is part of Caphri’s research field, says Zeegers. “We have GPs in our ranks but also Area Health Authority researchers. You see new studies being set up here and there. I myself, together with the University Library, am collecting scientific articles about corona, in order to sift the wheat from chaff. There are all kinds of things being published at the moment, not subject to peer review, but the majority of that is probably rubbish.”
Zeegers is focusing on articles about risk factors and prognosis. “We know that old age is a risk factor, but what else? Comorbidity too, or underlying conditions? And if so, how strong is the evidence?”