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Semper Ardens project to provide “early warning system” during the re-opening of Denmark

Professor Michael Bang Petersen is awarded an additional grant of DKK 2.4 million to his Semper Ardens project “HOPE – How Democracies Cope with COVID19 – A Data-Driven Approach” to be allocated to day-to-day data collection. The data will be transferred to Statens Serum Institut for use in models of the spread of infection based on, among other, populational behavior.

There is an increasing need for constantly updated knowledge about the behavior of the Danish population as Danish society slowly re-opens during the Corona crisis. The Carlsberg Foundation therefore awards an additional grant to Professor Michael Bang Petersen at the University of Aarhus, who is thus able to expand his existing research project of DKK 25 million awarded by the foundation to also include day-to-day collection of data to describe the behavior of the Danish population.

”I am very pleased that we can now  ensure that the HOPE project daily be able to provide constantly updated data to the authorities currently monitoring and modelling the development in infection pressure and spread of the Corona virus in Danish society. It is crucial that we obtain the best possible data in order to assess the various options for reopening Danish society”, states Professor Flemming Besenbacher, chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation.

Online data collection

The new data will be part of a so-called “early warning system”, which is transferred to the modelling group at Statens Serum Institut each morning. Data is collected through online questionnaires, which have been completed by a wide range of the Danish population about individual behavior on the previous day, as it is extremely important to be at the forefront of the populational behavior during the re-opening of Danish society.

”It is quite easy to follow guidelines and regulations, when you just have to stay at home. However, once we start venturing back into society it is a different matter. Therefore, it is incredibly important that we constantly monitor populational behavior. Especially as we know that it takes two weeks before any changes in behavior shows on the infection graphs. All collected data will therefore be available to the expert panel at Statens Serum Institut, who is looking forward to the collaboration”, states Michael Bang Petersen

”I am convinced that the data will be highly valuable to the modeling work. We will be able to use the data as an “early warning system” in relation to quantifying changes in behavior as early as possible. Furthermore, we will probably also be able to use the data to strengthen the modeling work overall, making the models become better rooted in Danish observations, says Professor and director at State Serum Institute Kåre Mølbak ”

From simple questions to basic scientific insight

So far, the data collected by the HOPE project since the start of the Corona crisis has been useful in predicting the actual development. However, in the current situation of a re-opening of Denmark, it is necessary to increase the speed of data collection.

Researchers are conducting 500 online-interviews daily among a wide range of the Danish population. Some of the questions are for instance: Have you been in a room with more than 10 people? How many times did you wash your hands? Did you keep the necessary distance to other people?

By asking these simple questions researchers and the modeling group can constantly monitor the various behavioral changes and potentially prevent any critical development.

Apart from the fact that the HOPE project provides instant information about the actual situation, it also provides basic research insight into how behavior generally affects infection pressure and the development of an epidemic.

For more information about HOPE - How Democracies Cope with COVID19 - A Data-Driven Approach

Watch Stay Curious videos with Michael Bang Petersen



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