| 10.06.2020

Research project: Making pandemic response more effective

Tvålastfartyg med ett coronavirus emellan.
The HUMLOG Institute is coordinating a research project where the researchers are investigating how different countries have handled the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic impact ant how to tackle social media disinformation.

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are now trying to find ways to tackle similar situations in the future. The project Health Emergency Response in Interconnected Systems (HERoS) consists of four main pillars, and a total of 11 organisations are involved in the different parts of the project.

The project started in the spring, and Hanken Professor Gyöngyi Kovács is the lead coordinator and the Principal Investigator of the project.

”The aim of this project is to make pandemic response more effective. I think we will have very good ways in contributing towards that, because many of us have worked with epidemics before, and we’ve learned a lot from other types of outbreaks whether that’s SARS or Ebola, or cholera outbreaks”, says Kovács.

The project has four main pillars: the first is crisis governance; the second epidemiological modelling; the third pillar of the project is looking at the supply chain management of the medical deliveries; and the fourth main pillar of the project focuses on social media misinformation and disinformation, and how to counter those.

Hanken's research focusing on medical deliveries

In addition to leading and coordinating the project, Hanken researchers are involved in the third work package about economic impact, where they investigate medical supply chains. Gyöngyi Kovács is also the work package leader of this part of the project.

“We are studying the economic part and the medical supply chain during the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re looking at first of all security of medical supplies in particular, how the medical supply chains operate towards pandemic areas especially quarantine zones. Which has its problems: from the very beginning there were for example not even enough IV fluids around in some of the quarantine zones. And then of course, we talk a lot about PPE’s, personal protective equipment”.

“In this part we also look at supply chain disruptions globally, and how they impact for example on the availability even of food in different areas, but also economic disruptions overall”, says Kovács.

Results that will help decision-making

The project is divided into different phases, and right now, the researchers are in the first phase, the rapid response phase. In this phase, they work closely together with the end users in the project.

“We have a number of humanitarian organisations and medical organisations that are in the project itself, so we are collecting data from them and we are putting that together. For example, the EU expects a gap analysis of what works in the medical supply chain and what doesn’t, how to go about policies, how to change for example contracts or flows or anything like that”, says Kovács.

Kovács expects that the collection of data for the first phase will be done by midsummer. After that starts the project’s second phase, where the researchers widen the scope and focus more on the economic impact and the socioeconomic impact assessment of the pandemic.

“In the last phase, we will put together dissemination activities, for example a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for any kind of future pandemics, and decision makers and organisations involved in those kind of decisions in the future. It’s a three year project, so we hope that in three years we will not have this particular pandemic”.

“I’m sure we will come to some conclusions how to make pandemic response more effective overall, and also in relation to particular types of decisions and particular types of crisis governance as well”, says Kovács.

Facts about the HERoS project

Health Emergency Response in Interconnected Systems (HERoS) is a  research project financed by the EU framework for research and innovation, Horizon 2020.

Hanken is the project coordinator, and 11 organisations from 6 different European countries are involved in the project. You can find more information about the project on the HERoS website (link to external webpage) and follow the project on the Twitter account HERoS.




HERoS graphic

HERoS consists of four main pillars:

1. Crisis governance. The researchers compare policies of and decisions of different governments and health care systems. It’s about how to respond to the pandemic, what works and what does not work in different countries.

2. Epidemiological modelling. Here the research focuses on two particular types of models. One is the local behaviour of people, any general population of people in cities. The focus is on how they behave, how close they are to others and how they move about in relation to the policies and the decisions that a government has taken, for example: do they take it seriously or not. The other looks at how public health care workers behave, how public health care systems are different from one another in different countries and how they operate.

3. Supply chain management. The third pillar of the project is looking at the medical deliveries during the pandemic, which includes the security of medical supplies in particular, how the medical supply chains operate towards pandemic areas especially quarantine zones. The researchers also look at supply chain disruptions globally, and how they impact for example on the availability of food for example in different areas.

4. Social media misinformation. The fourth main pillar of the project focuses on social media misinformation and disinformation, and how to counter those.

(The project number is 101003606, and the project is funded by the SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020 programme.)

 

Would you like to know more about the project, or hear about preliminary results?

The project coordinator and work package leaders are available for interviews for the media.

Project coordinator, Professor Gyöngyi Kovács can answer questions in general about the project. She is available for interviews in Swedish, English and Finnish.
Gyögyi Kovács, e-mail: gyongyi.kovacs@hanken.fi, phone: +358 40 3521 241

The work package leaders can answer specific questions about their part of the research project:

Crisis governance: Kees Boersma, f.k.boersma@vu.nl
Epidemiological modelling: Tina Comes, T.Comes@tudelft.nl
Supply chain management: Gyöngyi Kovács, gyongyi.kovacs@hanken.fi
Disinformation in social media: Harith Alani, h.alani@open.ac.uk

Hanken has previously written about this project here.