Sister projects collaboration

Joining forces in mitigating risks of the COVID-19 pandemic

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the world in its tracks. In May 2020, as Europe was coming out of the initial shock and acknowledging the impact of the new situation, the European Commission launched a funding call for research projects investigating the behavioural, social, and economic impacts of the outbreak responses with a total funding of € 28 million. COVINFORM, along with four other projects (PERISCOPE,RESPOND, RESISTIRE and SHARE-COVID) was funded under this call.

The aim of the call was to make sure we draw conclusion from the pandemic. The funding will go towards the analysis of responses at different governance levels, the evaluation of information campaigns and the analyses of unintended impacts (including on mental health) which will help develop solutions for future health crises.

With a goal of combining efforts in addressing these issues, on 19 April 2021, COVINFORM hosted the first workshop with other H2020 projects funded under the same European Commission call, which was also attended by project officers from the European Commission.

The workshop was divided into four panels. In each panel, designated speakers from each project discussed the most burning issues related to research in four key spheres relevant to each project: Governance, Vulnerability, Socio-economic consequences and Dissemination and Exploitation.

  1. Governance

The discussions in the Governance panel focused on the different countries that are being researched in the different projects and how each project manages the analysis of the intersection between European, national, and local governance levels. Data sources and planned outcomes of the analysis were also discussed, as well as ideas and suggestions regarding the problem of disentangling the influence of policies from influence of the pandemic.

  1. Socio-economic consequences

The panel on the Socio-economic consequences focused on what consequences are observed in different studies on the COVID-19 pandemic, and which groups of society were especially hit in socio-economic terms. The discussion also focused on the main challenges of researching these issues, for example – how to collect coherent, reproducible data across the countries on at least monthly basis?

  1. Vulnerability

In the Vulnerability panel, each project discussed how they deal with different definitions of vulnerability and adjacent terms and concepts (such as inequality and marginalisation), as well as how they address ‘measuring’ vulnerability in terms of risk. It was further discussed whether all vulnerabilities be explored by demographic data or should the demographic impacts be explored from the top down. Lastly, the discussion shifted to how to define, operationalize, and measure resilience to the pandemic i.e.: resilience for adverse mental health outcomes.

  1. Dissemination and Exploitation

The discussion in the Dissemination and Exploitation panel focused on techniques to maximise impact of the project results, starting with an analysis of the usefulness of different social media platforms to elevate messages of the project. Representatives of each project discussed advice on how to engage with media and secure coverage of the project by local and national outlets.

The aim of the cooperation is primarily to increase the impact of each project’s research. Each project works towards a shared goal of improving Europe’s resilience for health crises in the future by drawing conclusion from what worked and what didn’t in the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaboration will allow us to develop better recommendations for risk communication and disaster response and improve the wellbeing of the European population and – in particular, the most vulnerable among us.

Author: Melania Parzonka