Julia Dias (AFN)
Two projects with the participation of Fiocruz will be receiving financial support from the United Kingdom, after being acknowledged by the Global Effort on Covid-19 (GECO) Health Research. The call sought research projects that focused on offering responses to the multiple health consequences of the pandemic in low- and medium-income rate countries. Announced on October 10, the GECO is financed by two British research institutions, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). In addition to the projects in Brazil, projects in 18 other countries in Africa, South America, and in South-East Asia will be financed.
The Household transmission and immunity to Sars-CoV-2 among pediatric clients of a primary care center in a low-resource community in Rio de Janeiro project, in a partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK) and the University of Exeter (UK), will be carrying out a survey to better understand the role of children in the transmission of the new coronavirus. The behavior of the virus in children is not fully known yet, and understanding how these transmission works is important not only for the health of children themselves but also for their families and communities. The main problem regarding crowded living conditions, such as favelas (slums), where dwellings are very small, is that it is next to impossible to keep children inside, or social distancing of any kind.
“There is still much we don’t know about the SARS-CoV-2. Do adults get infected in the workplace and then transmit it to their children? Or do children get it from other kids and then pass it on to their families? We have been studying children with SARS-CoV-2 and their household contacts to try to answer these questions”, explains the project’s main researcher and chief of the Clinical Research Laboratory for Acute Fever Diseases of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (INI/Fiocruz), Patrícia Brasil.
Beginning with the recruitment of volunteers in a pediatric health center in Manguinhos, the researchers will be examing and testing Covid-19 in a sample of children and their families through regular follow-up visits over two years. “The risk of catching the new coronavirus is spread over a variety of factors, from genetics to behavior and including the domestic environment. We hope to manage to separate the variable using statistic models and discover which ones are more relevant”, states Fiocruz researcher Leonardo Barros.
Another project contemplated in the same call has the goal of understanding the association of neurological issues in subjects with Covid-19. The Covid-19 neurological disease: a global meta-analysis and prospective case-control study in Brazil, India and Malawi" is part of the international alliance Internacional Brain Infections, involving institutions in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Malawi. Fiocruz Pernambuco is coordinating the Brazilian arm of the research, which also involves the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) and Hospital das Clínicas (HC-UFPE). The international partners are the University of Liverpool (UK), University of Malawi College of Medicine (Malawi), Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (Malawi), National Institute for Mental Health & Neurosciences (India), Christian Medical College Vellore (India) e The Encephalitis Society (UK).
“Data from literature show that people hospitalized with Covid-19 show involvement of their central nervous system, which may lead to the development of neurological problems, such as temporary delirium or strokes. This study aims to recruit patients in hospitals in India, Brazil and Malawi, to understand the association factor between Covid-19 and the development of these neurological diseases. With this, we hope to better understand the risk factors for these issues, in order to predict and possibly prevent more serious cases”, explains Fiocruz researcher and coordinator of the project in Brazil, Rafael França.
The project will be studying why and how the virus affects the brain, to help improve treatment and save lives. The researchers will be collecting data from all patients involved, to create a single report of the entire range of neurological conditions associated with Covid-19. In order to identify whether Covid-19 patients actually develop neurological diseases, the researchers will be comparing patients with and without neurological disease, hospitalized in the participating institutions. They will be looking for risk factors, especially those that can be treated, such as insufficient oxygen levels in the blood, and will also be examining the outcome of neurological patients, to help understand what can predict a bad outcome in serious cases of Covid-19.