AYA members and their research on COVID-19

Find out what AYA members are working on in the field of corona related research

Developing an Open-Source Web Scraper and Analyzer of COVID-related Android apps, Ivano Malavolta, VU

Several mobile apps are being developed and released to the public in order to ease the tracking of COVID-19 and to inform people about key facts and procedures related to this virus.

The project (more information here) aims at providing useful insights about COVID-related mobile apps available to the public, ranging from the privacy-related permissions they request, contacted servers, users' perceptions, security-related issues, and so on. In order to extract those insights, we setup a dedicated analysis tool and we are running it weekly and on a nation-by-nation basis.
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Antibodies in the fight against COVID-19, Marit van Gils, Amsterdam UMC

Virologist Marit van Gils has found and isolated antibodies from the blood of COVID-19 recovered individuals. Antibodies are used regularly in the clinic to treat many different diseases, including viruses such as Ebola and RSV. The obtained novel COVID-19 antibodies can very efficiently prevent the infection of human cells. Because of this property, these antibodies have the potential to protect at-risk populations, such as elderly and health care workers. But they could also be used to treat infected people and prevent them from becoming more severely ill and recover quicker. As these antibodies can be made in large quantities at very high quality they will be a good alternative to the already used plasma from recovered individuals to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients, which has shown good results so far. At the moment the antibodies are being tested in animal models and the plan is to start clinical testing in the first humans within the next year.
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Boosting immunity against COVID-19 through drug repurposing, Carla Ribeiro, Amsterdam UMC

Immunologist Carla Ribeiro is investigating how the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease, hijacks the body’s immune defense mechanisms to enter cells and spread to other organs. By now we know that COVID-19 not only manifests in the lungs, but is a multi-organ disease affecting also the kidneys, the gastrointestinal tract, and even blood vessels. Recent studies have reported infectious SARS-CoV-2 in stool samples of COVID-19 patients long after respiratory clearance, underlining the urgency to unravel how SARS-CoV-2 infects the gut. We have found that immune cells at portals of viral entry are equipped with an immune shredder mechanism able to purge viruses such as HIV-1.  Here, we will identify drugs targeting patients’ immune shredder mechanism, rather than the virus itself, to boost immune immunity in a bid to treat infected COVID-19 individuals and quicken recovery from severe cases of the disease.

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The costs of COVID-19 for Dutch shopping streets, Hans Koster, Vrije Universiteit

Economist Hans Koster monitors the costs of COVID-19 for the retail sector. First, he will monitor pedestrians in shopping streets using WiFi access points from RMC, a consultancy company in retailing. When people have a smartphone they are automatically registered by these WiFi access points. These data are at a low level of spatial aggregation (i.e. exact locations within shopping streets for many different shopping streets in the Netherlands), and provide information on the crowdedness of shopping streets at each point in time.

The second step is to calculate losses of having fewer pedestrians due to COVID-19 using a methodology developed in Koster et al. (2019), which relies on data on property prices and vacancies.

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Essays on modern mobility, Martijn Stronks, Vrije Universiteit

Philosopher and lawyer Martijn Stronks published a series of essays in quarantine on modern mobility in times of corona. The essays were published in Groene Amsterdammer and were the result of a course that he taught to students of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. That is, the campus was closed and the students were spread all over the world in different degrees of quarantine. The course, therefore, consisted of online lectures and the immobility of students was the starting point to address the question on mobility from different philosophical perspectives. A series of philosophical essays in action on modern mobility, fluid capitalism, the exception condition, bio politics, climate action, and the world risk society.

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Pandemic Nursing Project, Marci Cottingham, Vrije Universiteit

Sociologist Marci Cottingham will investigate nurses’ daily experiences navigating risk while providing COVID-19 care. Most of our knowledge of caregiving is under relatively “normal conditions”—treating broken bones, caring for patients suffering from cancer, or caring for the elderly and disabled. Patients themselves can be emotionally draining, but rarely do they pose a direct health risk to nurses. The context of a contagious epidemic changes this. Patients for whom nurses are otherwise working to comfort and put at ease are now threats. Research on navigating risk and medical uncertainty highlight the important role of emotions in this process. 

This project will collect daily audio recordings from U.S. nurses as they reflect on their day-to-day challenges, emotions, and decisions. The results will provide detailed information on what it means to be a nurse during this unprecedented time.

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The Covid-19 crisis as a career shock: Implications for careers and vocational behavior, Jos Akkermans et al., VU

The covid-19 pandemic is a career shock for many people across the globe. In this article, we reflect on how insights from the literature on career shocks can help us understand the career consequences of the pandemic and offer suggestions for future research in this area. In particular, we offer three “key lessons”. The first lesson is that the implications of Covid-19 reflect the dynamic interplay between individual and contextual factors. Here, we argue that although the pandemic was difficult to predict and control, research shows that certain psychological resources – such as career competencies and resilience – could make this career shock more manageable. The second lesson is that the pandemic may have differential implications over time, as suggested by research that has shown the consequences of career shocks to differ between short-term vs. long-term time horizons, and across life- and career stages. The third lesson is that, even though the pandemic is clearly a negatively valenced shock for most people, further into the future it may allow for more positive outcomes. This lesson builds on research showing how negative career shocks have long-term positive consequences for some people. We hope that these insights will inspire both scholars and practitioners to study and understand the work and career implications of Covid-19 as a career shock, as well as to support people in dealing with its consequences.

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