High quality research into post-COVID syndrome and COVID-19 vaccines
High quality and good opportunities to contribute to societal benefits summarise the applications approved within the research initiatives for post-COVID syndrome and follow-up studies of COVID-19 vaccines. In relation to studies of COVID-19 vaccines, more targeted initiatives may be needed. This emerges from the reports on the mandates, which are now completed.
Two mandates given to the Swedish Research Council in 2021 arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have now been reported to the Government. One related to the call for project grants to research into post-COVID syndrome, and the other to research environment grants for follow-up studies of COVID-19 vaccine. The reports include descriptions of how the mandates were implemented, what research was funded, and what conclusions can be drawn from the work.
“To implement the mandates and design the calls in the best way, we held a dialogue with subject experts. This helped us to understand the needs and the preconditions,” says Madeleine Durbeej-Hjalt, Secretary General for Medicine and Health at the Swedish Research Council.
The fact that the research we funded under both calls is of high quality shows that we have a successful research community, with good preparedness for handling health challenges, she establishes.
“It is now important that we continue to support undirected researcher-initiated research, to further strengthen our preparedness to handle future challenges.”
Research into post-COVID syndrome
The report on the investment in research into post-COVID syndrome shows that the research projects are of high quality, and therefore will probably be of benefit to patients. The research spans several areas of medicine, and the focus of the projects is in line with the prioritisation of research issues relating to post-COVID syndrome that patients, their relatives, healthcare personnel and researchers have made and that the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services has collated. At the same time, the research may contribute to increased knowledge of how other virus infections can give rise to chronic symptoms or secondary illness.
The Swedish Research Council assesses that further targeted calls to stimulate research in the area are not necessary. The research is of high quality, and should be able to compete for funding in the Swedish Research Council’s standard calls.
Facts about the call:
- Open from 2 June to 17 August 2021.
- In November 2021, the Swedish Research Council decided to approve 14 out of 56 applications.
- 50 million SEK was distributed in total.
The call for grants for vaccine follow-up included both follow-up studies and build-up of infrastructures to support the research. The report shows that the research projects are of high quality, and therefore will probably contribute to societal benefit. Research results that may form the basis for considerations and recommendations have already been published. The research investigates the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, for the population in general and for various groups at risk.
The Swedish Research Council has arranged meetings to increase cooperation between the various projects, which has led to knowledge exchange and collaboration that may facilitate and expand the studies, and also make them more efficient.
Contrary to its assessment of the research into post-COVID syndrome, the Swedish Research Council assesses that further targeted calls relating to follow-up studies of COVID-19 vaccines may be needed. One reason is that more long-term follow-up studies are needed, as a result of waning immunity and the need for repeat vaccinations. There may also be a need for further funding of the infrastructures developed, which are deemed to be of national interest. However, an evaluation of the infrastructures is necessary before any further funding may be considered.
Facts about the call:
- Open from 23 March to 13 April 2021.
- In June 2021, the Swedish Research Council decided to approve 6 out of 11 applications.
- 100 million SEK was distributed in total.
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