SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

We want to help overcome the crisis with our top-level research. A significant part of our work is now focused on studying coronavirus.

Otmar D. Wiestler

We’re facing incredible challenges due to the COVID-19-pandemic, both as a society and as individuals. As Germany’s largest scientific organisation, Helmholtz is making key contributions to overcoming the coronavirus crisis through its top-level research.

Monday, 28 September 2020

DLR publishes second study on COVID-19 and mo­bil­i­ty

Public transport is losing ground in Germany, while the importance of individual means of transport, especially private cars, is increasing. These are the key findings of the second survey conducted by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute of Transport Research. DLR conducted a comprehensive survey of 1000 people from late June to early July 2020 to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting mobility behaviour now that restrictions have been relaxed. An initial survey was carried out during the lockdown in April 2020. In the second survey, the scientists looked at the medium- and long-term effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on attitudes and behaviour in the mobility sector.

To the Announcement

Thursday, 24 September 2020

COVID-19: Berlin scientists lay basis for a passive vaccination

Researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have identified highly effective antibodies against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and are now pursuing the development of a passive vaccination. In this process, they have also discovered that some SARS-CoV-2 antibodies bind to tissue samples from various organs, which could potentially trigger undesired side effects. They report their findings in the scientific journal “Cell”.

To the Announcement

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

New Model for District-Based Coronavirus Forecasts

Neuroinformatics scientists at Osnabrück University and data specialists at Forschungszentrum Jülich are releasing new model results daily to forecast COVID-19 infections. The results include estimates updated daily of the reported new infections and a 5-day forecast for every German district, and are available at The predictions are based on data from the Robert Koch Institute, which are statistically analysed using a new model weighted by probability that was developed by Osnabrück’s neuroinformatics scientists on high-performance computers at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC).

To the Announcement

Friday, 18 September 2020

AI counts participants at major events

Whether concert, rally, demonstration or fair: In order to ensure safety and protection against infection in large crowds - and in times of the coronavirus pandemic also the health of the guests - it is important to know the exact number of visitors. Experts in photogrammetry and image analysis at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have developed a 'learning algorithm' for automatic counting of people in photos and videos. The algorithm makes it possible to use image material from a wide variety of sources and qualities. Using methods of artificial intelligence, the system has been trained to recognize edges and contours that are typical for people in pictures.

To the Announcement (in German)

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Lower CO2 emissions due to corona restrictions not yet visible in the atmosphere

Current data from the energy, industry and mobility sectors forecast a reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions of up to eight percent by 2020 - in view of the restrictions on public life during the corona crisis. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cumulative annual savings of approximately this magnitude would be necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2030. In recent measurements, scientists of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have determined that the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has not yet demonstrably changed due to the estimated emission reductions.

To the Announcement (in German)

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Nationwide corona antibody study of the HZI comes to Aachen

Antibody studies can provide reliable information on what percentage of the population has already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In a nationwide study, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) is investigating the spread of antibodies against the novel coronavirus using regional samples. Within the scope of the study, about 3,000 test persons will be examined in the urban region of Aachen.

To the Announcement (in German)

Thursday, 3 September 2020

“Hotspots” of a corona infection in the human body

An infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can affect multiple organs. With this in mind, researchers of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Cornell University in the US have investigated cellular factors that could be significant for an infection. To this end, they analysed the activity of 28 specific genes in a wide range of human tissues. Their findings, which provide a map of potentially disease-relevant factors across the human body, are published in the journal “Cell Reports”.

To the Announcement

Monday, 31. August 2020

MOSAiC aerial campaign: first aerial survey flights in the Arctic since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic

Following a five-month mandatory delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, on August 30th the two German polar research aircraft Polar 5 and Polar 6 will launch from Svalbard to conduct their first aerial survey flights over the Arctic this year. The flights, which will extend far into the Central Arctic, will support the investigation of the atmosphere and sea ice, and supplement the MOSAiC expedition’s extensive research agenda.

To the Announcement

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

HZI supports consortium CARE in the testing of drug candidate substances

The new consortium CARE (Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe), supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) public-private partnership, announced its launch today to accelerate the discovery and development of urgently needed medicines to treat SARS-CoV-2. CARE is a five-year project bringing together 37 partners from Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US. As a member of the CARE consortium, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) will contribute its expertise in pharmacology of anti-infective compounds.

To the Announcement

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Jülich expertise for American and German corona websites

The reproduction number (R-value) indicates how many people an infected person infects with the virus on average in a given time unit. In the USA, a website went online in April, which provides the general public with daily updated R-value estimates for all federal states. Behind are the Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. They are supported by open source software developers. The two doctoral students Laura Helleckes and Michael Osthege from the Jülich Institute of Biotechnology also contributed their expertise. On the website they now also provide daily analyses of the German figures.

To the Announcement (in German)

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Simulate corona infection courses, evaluate countermeasures

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) are developing a software package that can be used to simulate the influence of protective measures such as contact bans or curfews on the development of corona infection rates over several months. For the first time, geographically, temporally and demographically high-resolution simulations will be possible. The software includes an online simulation tool that is designed to be easy and intuitive to use.

To the Announcement (in German)

Nationwide research network with HZI participation publishes current findings on COVID-19

Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction – rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition. Experts from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the University of Bonn, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), along with colleagues from a nationwide research network, present these findings in the scientific journal Cell.

To the Announcement

Monday, 3 August 2020

Platform of DZIF and HZI collects antibody studies on new coronavirus

Who has overcome an infection with the virus without noticing, and how many people have already produced protective antibodies against the new coronavirus? Various antibody studies are now under way that will provide information on immunity in the population. In order to compare these studies in a timely and reliable manner and provide a comprehensive evaluation, the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is building a platform that gathers the methodology and results of the tests and makes the data available to interested researchers. The project “LEOSS.sero-survey” will be led by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and implemented in collaboration with Helmholtz Federated IT Services (HIFIS).

To the Announcement

Friday, 31 July 2020

HZDR scientists receive million-dollar funding for corona research

In order to cope with the corona pandemic, the Free State of Saxony is providing a research team headed by Michael Bachmann from the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) with two million euros. The scientists from the HZDR Institute for Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research want to transfer an existing approach, which can be used to detect and combat tumour cells, to imaging and therapy of viral infections such as the new corona virus. Building on this, they want to develop universal nanosensors that could enable rapid digital diagnosis.

To the Announcement (in German)

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Transmission via aerosols occurred over more than eight meters

In a joint study of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), and the Heinrich-Pette-Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI), the origins of the first SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in May 2020 at Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany's largest meat processing complex, were investigated. The study results have now been published on the preprint platform SSRN. A publication in a peer-reviewed journal will follow.

To the Announcement

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

DLR investigates medium to long-term corona effects on the logistics sector

COVID-19 has many different effects on German society and economy. How extensive the changes caused by the crisis will be, can hardly be estimated yet. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is now investigating the current and future effects of the coronavirus on the logistics sector with the support of the Transport, Mobility and Logistics Cluster of the Brandenburg Economic Development Corporation by means of an online survey.

To the Announcement (in German)

To the Online Survey (in German)

Friday, 3 July 2020

Representative, nationwide corona antibody study starts in Reutlingen

A nationwide antibody study by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) was launched in the district of Reutlingen at the beginning of July with the aim of gaining a better overview of the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 infections. In addition to four other antibody tests, a new detection method will be used to determine the population’s immune status. This method is being jointly developed by the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen in Reutlingen and the HZI.  In Reutlingen, approximately 3,000 blood samples will be taken, which will initially be examined in two laboratories before being sent to the HZI and the NMI for further analyses.

To the Announement (in German)

Taste and Smell Disorders in connection with COVID-19

An international team has compiled an online survey for worldwide distribution regarding smell and taste disorders in connection with COVID-19. It is hoped that the survey will allow medical professionals and patients to distinguish the symptoms of an infection with the novel coronavirus from those of other respiratory illnesses – and potentially support the provision of medical care for those affected. Over 500 scientists, clinicians, and patient representatives from 38 countries are involved in the project. The online survey is available from today.

To the Announcement

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

COVID-19 protection measure: home office in the German Space Operations Center

Due to the corona pandemic, space experiments of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with the plasma crystal laboratory PK-4 threatened to fail. But the DLR scientists received support from the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen. They made their resources available and set up a special kind of 'home office'. Now the research group from the DLR Institute of Materials Physics in Space has successfully completed its series of experiments. The experiments on board the ISS were carried out by Russian cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin under the guidance of the plasma researchers.

To the Announcement (in German)

Networking virtually to protect the climate

More than 60 percent of researchers are willing to travel to conferences less often. Before the coronavirus struck, Verena Haage from the MDC conducted a survey on the travel behavior of researchers and their willingness to change it. This crisis now gives a glimpse of what the future of conferences could look like.

To the Announcement

Monday, 22 June 2020

More solar power thanks to corona lockdown

A remarkable side effect of the corona lockdown was the decrease in man-made air pollution. This can be seen, among other things, in the performance of solar systems. The clean air led to more sunlight penetrating to photovoltaic systems, which produced more electricity, as scientists from the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen Nuremberg together with partners from MIT and the solar company Cleantech Solar were able to prove.

To the Announcement (in German)

KIT Spin-off offers software and certification for hygiene and protective measures

With hotels reopening after the corona lockdown, there is a lot to consider for them to protect their guests and employees as well as possible. Hotel Resilient, a spin-off from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), supports hotels around the world with its free "COVID-READY" offers. It includes hygiene and protection standards, self-audit software, an online-learning module and the possibility of certification. In mid-June, Hotel Resilient’s COVID-READY program has been launched in cooperation with 75 hotels in Phuket/Thailand.

To the Annoucement

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Start of the nationwide antibody study at the HZI

Scientific data suggest that many COVID-19 cases are not detected due to mild and asymptomatic infection courses. For this reason, there is as yet no sufficient data on how many people in Germany have already been infected and thus have established a presumed immunity against SARS-CoV-2. With a nationwide antibody study, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) aims to improve knowledge about the actual spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections in different population groups in Germany.

To the Announcement (in German)

Monday, 15 June 2020

DESY scientists use big data to predict immunity

DESY theorist Ayan Paul uses big data to track immunity development. Experienced in using advanced statistical models capable of dealing with large datasets and multiparametric analyses, he knew that big data can open up insights that elude us otherwise.

To the Announcement

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

EU project coordinated at the HZI links research areas to effectively contain the pandemic

The healthcare systems of many countries are not prepared for an outbreak of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig coordinates an international project to collect clinical, epidemiological and immunological data in order to provide a basis for further decisions in the corona crisis. Institutions from Germany, the Netherlands, China, Switzerland, Nepal and Côte d’Ivoire are involved in the project CORESMA.

To the Announcement

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Coronavirus: more accurate estimate of reproduction number

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) present a method for estimating the reproduction number that avoids time delays and compensates for weekday-related fluctuations. The scientists use an acausal filter with a filter length of seven days, which uses not only past and present but also future values. Their estimation is based on the same weekday of the previous week.

To the Announcement (in German)

COVID-19-Letality: Follow the Data

What is the risk of dying from COVID-19? Is it possible to make a statement based on the current data situation? Data scientist Peter Steinbach from the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf describes what can be found out with data science - and what not.

To the Announcement (in German)

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

DLR atmosphere researcher Christiane Voigt on research flights in the Corona Pandemic

Due to the corona pandemic, there are still only few aircraft in the air. Scientists are investigating how clean the air is during the pandemic and whether the sky really does appear bluer. Christiane Voigt from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is leading the scientific mission of one of the research aircraft. In an interview, she talks about the special opportunity for atmospheric research and initial trends in measurements.

To the interview (in German)

Helmholtz Vice-President Antje Boetius on science communication after the corona crisis

Marine biologist Antje Boetius calls for a structural and cultural change in science communication. In a statement to the Research Committee of the German Bundestag, the Helmholtz Vice-President and Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute outlined the challenges for science communication after the corona crisis.

To the statement (in German)

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

DLR investigates virus distribution in aircraft and trains

Means of transport such as airplanes and trains are the basis of modern mass mobility. At the same time, they are suspected of encouraging the coronavirus’ spread. But how do virus particles actually spread in passenger cabins? And what influence does ventilation have on this? The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is currently investigating this. The findings may help to better understand challenges to mobility in times of the corona crisis and thus contribute to possible solutions.

To the Announcement (in German)

Coronavirus: National Academy Leopoldina presents fourth ad hoc opinion

The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has published its fourth ad-hoc opinion on the coronavirus pandemic. The topic is: "Medical care and patient-oriented research in an adaptive health care system". The paper focuses on short and medium-term aspects of medical and nursing care under the conditions of a persistent pandemic and outlines long-term measures for a resilient and adaptive health care system.

To the Announcement (in German)

Monday, 25 May 2020

BMBF gets update on studies on COVID-19 at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Federal Research Minister Karliczek and the Minister of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony Thümler visited the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig today. HZI scientists gave an overview of the current state of research on COVID-19, in particular of a new nationwide epidemiological antibody study.

BMBF's Announcement (in German)

HZI's Announcement (in German)

Friday, 22 May 2020

Two research aircrafts investigate reduced concentrations of pollutants in the air

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought air traffic down worldwide. Air pollution has been reduced by 20 to 40 percent, and aviation pollution has fallen by as much as 85 percent. A German research team wants to make use of this special situation for the BLUESKY project. Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Jülich and Karlsruhe Research Centres are using two research aircraft to investigate changes in the Earth's atmosphere. Over the next two weeks, DLR's HALO and Falcon measurement aircraft will fly over Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, Ireland and North America.

To the Announcement

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

DLR: Up to 90 percent fewer contrails due to reduced air traffic

Travel restrictions to contain the COVID19 pandemic have led to a massive decline in global air traffic volumes since mid-March 2020. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now analyzed the influence of reduced air traffic on the formation of contrails over Europe by measuring cloud properties. They used data from the SEVIRI sensor on the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) weather satellite on 16 April 2020 to do so. The analyses show a decrease in the number of contrails formed to about one tenth compared to normal operation.

To the Announcement (in German)

DFG provides substantial funding for research projects due to corona restrictions

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is now providing additional funding for its projects affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These funds can now be used to apply for additional personnel and material resources in order to continue and complete research work that cannot be carried out as planned. The financial support has a volume of at least 175 million euros.

To the Announcement (in German)

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Corona shutdown is hardly noticeable in the upper layers of the atmosphere

Scientists from the Institute of Stratosphere at Forschungszentrum Jülich are investigating the effects of the corona crisis on the air quality in higher layers of the atmosphere. They let two weather balloons with measuring instruments rise to an altitude of about 29 kilometers. Initial evaluations indicate that the shutdown will only reduce the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere insignificantly.

To the Announcement (in German)

Monday, 18 May 2020

Karliczek: More knowledge for protection against the coronavirus

German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek visited the DZNE in Bonn to learn about a current study on the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The DZNE is currently asking participants of its "Rhineland Study" - a population study in the Bonn area - for a blood test. The screening is supposed to show how many people were already infected with the coronavirus. At the same time, the study is intended to find out how different health factors (e.g. general health, lifestyle and immune status) affect coronavirus infection.

To the Announcement (in German)

Friday,15 May 2020

New HZG report: The corona crisis influences Hamburg population’s risk perception

For 13 years, Professor Beate Ratter, Head of the Department of Socio-economics of the Coastal Region at the Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht (HZG), has had the Hamburg population surveyed by the forsa research institute on their risk awareness of climate change. The current survey shows that the corona crisis influences the risk perception of the Hamburg population. Other threats, such as climate change, are receding into the background.

To the Announcement (in German)

Despite the corona crisis, the atmosphere’s CO2 content is still on a record course

Due to the shutdown, greenhouse gas emissions will decrease in the short term, but the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will continue to rise - possibly only slightly more slowly. This is also shown by the measured values from the Federal Environment Agency in Germany. The German Climate Consortium therefore emphasizes in its statement how important a consistent climate policy is right now. The members of the consortium include the Helmholtz Centres AWI, DLR, Forschungszentrum Jülich, GEOMAR, GFZ, HZG, KIT and UFZ.

To the statement (in German)

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Support for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics

The LabHive digital platform aims to provide necessary resources to diagnostic centres to enable more tests for SARS-CoV-2. Tobias Opialla from the MDC is one of 15 volunteers who has been involved in the project since the #WirvsVirus Hackathon organized by the German government.

To the Announement

Wedndesday, 13 May 2020

Joint study calculates health and economic scenarios for easing pandemic restrictions

The ifo Institute and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) have called for a “prudent, step-by-step opening process” in the coronavirus crisis. They recommend that the policy should be to do more testing to limit the increase in infections as the lockdown is progressively eased. “These measures are essential to limit the health and economic costs of the pandemic,” says a joint study by the two institutes.

To the Announcement

Original publication (in German)

Monday, 11 May 2020

Temporary transport infrastructures ensure greater safety during corona pandemic

As a result of the corona pandemic, many people are currently foregoing the use of local public transport. For many road users, however, switching to the car is not an alternative. Also, queues in front of sales and service facilities require additional space in order to maintain a safe distance. Safe and pandemic-proof infrastructures such as wide footpaths and cycle paths are therefore necessary. As part of the EXPERI project, scientists from the DLR Institute of Transport Research are using an interactive city map to show which temporary infrastructures have already been implemented.

To the Announcement (in German)

Friday, 8 May 2020

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research: Integral SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring

Many people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are not included in the statistics. However, how high this estimated number of undetected cases and thus the actually infected share of the population is, is an important key parameter for the epidemiological assessment of a pandemic. A team of more than 20 wastewater experts, microbiologists, virologists and modellers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the German Association for Water Management, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) and the Technical University of Dresden has been working for several weeks together with the wastewater treatment plant operators of the cities of Cologne, Leipzig, Dresden, the Eifel-Rur water board and a further 20 cities. Their goal is to directly record the total degree of infection in the catchment area of wastewater treatment plants from representative wastewater samples of population groups affected to varying degrees. In the second half of May, a trial operation with daily sampling is to start with about 20 sewage treatment plants.

To the Announement (in German)

Coronavirus research with combined forces

Numerous genome researchers are working hard to combine their expertise and sequencing infrastructure to make a scientific contribution to the management of the COVID 19 pandemic. Research teams are now officially combining these activities in the German COVID-19 OMICS Initiative (DeCOI) to accelerate research. Scientists at more than 22 institutions are actively involved in DeCOI, including the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU), Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the German Cancer Research Center.

To the Announcement (in German)

DESY produces face shields for Hamburg's doctors and nursing facilities

DESY hands over 2,000 protective shields to the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Hamburg (KVH), the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians Hamburg (KVH) and the BPA, the Federal Association of Private Providers of Social Services e.V. (bpa). The shields are produced and assembled at DESY with 3D printers and in the research centre’s workshops. The face shields are being delivered to particularly endangered practices, nursing homes, infectious diseases practices or Covid consultation hours for personal protection against the corona virus. DESY has already handed over over 1,000 visors.

To the Announcement

Lower Saxony's Minister President Stephan Weil visits the HZI

Important visit for the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI): The Minister President of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil, and the Minister of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony, Björn Thümler, visited the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig today. The visit focused on the current challenges and innovative approaches, especially in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 and the future development of infection research in Lower Saxony.

To the Announcement (in German)

Thursday, 7 May 2020

HZI researchers find neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2

A team of virologists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), together with the Technical University of Braunschweig and the biotech company Yumab, has succeeded in identifying artificially produced antibodies that neutralize the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. These antibodies are particularly suitable for the acute treatment of severe COVID-19 courses, as the immune system needs about two weeks after infection to produce mature antibodies. The researchers have examined more than 6,000 artificially produced human antibodies.

To the Announcement (information in German)

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Study combines early detection of type 1 diabetes with SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing in children

Large-scale antibody testing against SARS-CoV-2 could help to obtain reliable data on infection rates. Screening children for early stages of type 1 diabetes in Bavaria, "Fr1da plus" will now integrate SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing into their field study. Led by Helmholtz Zentrum München, researchers could test up to 65,000 blood samples from the Fr1da plus study for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, too.

To the Announcement

DLR survey: How does Corona change our mobility?

The Institute of Transport Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has conducted a study to investigate how the corona crisis is affecting the mobility behaviour of the German population. DLR surveyed 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 82. The researchers were particularly interested in what means of transport the respondents used during the crisis and how well they felt about it. They also determined how mobility behaviour in the areas of shopping, travel, work and leisure has changed as a result of the pandemic.

To the Announcement (information in German)

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Despite weather influence: Corona’s effect on air quality now obvious

Half of humanity is affected by lockdown measures in the course of the corona pandemic. Therefore it is not surprising that the European satellite Sentinel-5P shows a strong global decrease of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) compared to last year. Scientists from the Earth Observation Center (EOC) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have now been able to scientifically prove the "corona effect".

To the Announcement (information in German)

NAKO Health Study asks participants about COVID-19

The corona pandemic is likely to have serious consequences for the German population’s health. The NAKO Health Study now wants to find out exactly what these consequences are. All test persons are invited to participate in the survey.

To the Announcement (information in German)

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Corona research: Consortium of Berlin research and industry seeks active ingredients

The Berlin biotech company Molox GmbH and a team at the Helmholtz Centre Berlin (HZB) have initiated a consortium of regional research groups and BASF. Together, they want to identify a starting point for the development of a potential active substance against the new coronavirus. Targets of potential inhibitors will be certain SARS-CoV-2 proteins that promote the spread or infectivity of the virus. Scientists from Freie Universität Berlin are also involved in the research.

To the report

The Cancer Information Service recommends keeping appointments with doctors even in times of the corona pandemic

The German Cancer Research Centre’s Cancer Information Service advises against postponing doctor's appointments for fear of the coronavirus. Symptoms and pain should be taken seriously and clarified by the doctor. The risk of contracting the corona virus during a doctor's appointment has been significantly reduced.

To the Announcement (information in German)

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Forschungszentrum Jülich starts campaign to measure air quality in the Rhineland

How does the shutdown as a consequence of the corona pandemic affect air quality in the Rhineland? The Jülich Institute for Troposphere is investigating this question with a measurement campaign that will start from Bonn-Hangelar Airport at the beginning of May. Using a Zeppelin NT, trace gases and particulate matter will be measured during several flights on different routes.

To the announcement (in German)

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Long-term study at HZI started to investigate the course of disease in children

Little is currently known about children and their susceptibility to the new coronavirus. How many children have already been infected with the virus without noticeable symptoms has not been specifically investigated so far. This is what scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) now want to find out with a long-term study that has started in 2014.

To the announcement (in German)

HZDR and CASUS support search for remedies against the coronavirus

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the German-Polish Center for Data-intensive Systems Research CASUS (Center for Advanced Systems Understanding) are providing the computing project Folding@home with free computing capacities that can be used to simulate and decode complex protein structures. This is of crucial importance for the development of a successful antibody therapy that could prevent coronavirus infections of the respiratory tract.

To the announcement (in German)

HZI-App SORMAS for contact tracking starts in all Berlin districts

In the future, all twelve Berlin districts will use the SORMAS (Surveillance, Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System) app to make contact tracking of COVID-19 infected persons more efficient. The first health authorities, for example in Berlin-Mitte and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, are already working with the software. SORMAS was developed by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI).

To the Tweet (in German)

Online survey on corona pandemic and COPD

An online survey will be conducted to find out how the corona pandemic is affecting the everyday life, psychological well-being and quality of life of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The survey is open to patients in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and their partners.

To the announcement (in German)

Monday, 27 April 2020

SARS-CoV-2 research: Helmholtz comments on the EU Commission’ action plan

The European Commission has presented an action plan on SARS-CoV-2 in the European Research Area, which includes ten points for coordinated research and development activities. In a statement, the Helmholtz Association expressly welcomes and supports this 10-point plan and provides supplementary proposals.

To the statement

Ways out of the corona crisis: researchers call for transformative change

COVID-19 stimulus packages should not only boost the economy, but also initiate transformative change. This is what leading researchers of the World Biodiversity Council IPBES are calling for.

To the statement (in German)

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Helmholtz welcomes the decision of the Federal Government in favor of a consistently decentralized approach to developing a tracing app

Helmholtz supports the decision of the Federal Government in favor of a decentralized solution that will be implemented by a broad international consortium. Germany plays a leading role in the consortium and is represented by the Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA).

To the Announcement

Friday, 24 April 2020

The MOSAiC expedition will continue, despite the coronavirus pandemic

Despite the current challenges, the MOSAiC expedition will continue. After many national borders were closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, one team transfer had to be postponed. But thanks to new alternative plans supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Research Foundation and the operators of the German research fleet, MOSAiC will soon enter its next phase.

To the Announcement

Thursday, 23 April 2020

X-ray screening identifies potential candidates for corona drugs

A research team has identified several candidates for possible active substances that bind to an important protein of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 with the help of DESY's X-ray light source PETRA III. Those substances could thus be a basis for a drug against the infection.

To the Announcement (in German)

New projects and funding to combat the coronavirus pandemic

So far, there is neither a vaccine nor are there specific drugs against SARS-CoV-2. In view of the global pandemic, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and its other locations are pooling their resources for projects that contribute to a better understanding of the infection and to solutions to contain the virus.

To the news

Entry points for SARS-CoV-2

Two cell types in the nose are probably the first entry points for the new coronavirus. Using data from the Human Cell Atlas, researchers have discovered many of the proteins that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter our cells, particularly in goblet cells and ciliated epithelium in the nose.

To the news

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

First clinical study for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine approved in Germany

The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) has granted approval for a clinical trial of a vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2. The Mainz-based company BioNtech will test its active substance on healthy volunteers. This is only the fourth approved human trial of a preventive, specific COVID-19 vaccine candidate worldwide.

Announcement of the PEI

Interview with Ugur Sahin from BioNtech

Green dead ends and ways out of the corona crisis

State reconstruction programs, as they are being pushed forward in the current crisis, create an unprecedented window of opportunity for structural change. Green stimuli must not lead to pure subsidy competition, write Erik Gawel and Paul Lehmann, environmental economists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the University of Leipzig in a statement.

To the statement (information in German)

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Corona research in Bonn: DZNE starts large-scale blood test

For a study on the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is asking around 5,000 participants of the “Rhineland Study” to have their blood tested. The screening will show how many people were already infected by the coronavirus and help answer the question of what determined whether they developed no, mild or severe symptoms. On this topic, the DZNE is cooperating closely with the lab of Prof. Christian Drosten, head of virology at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

To the Announcement

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) supports Klinikum Braunschweig in corona tests

Regional support for more corona tests in Braunschweig: The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the Technical University of Braunschweig are making technology and knowledge available to the Braunschweig Hospital to significantly increase the number of corona tests. Both institutions supply technical equipment that can be used in the clinical laboratory for the detection of the corona virus. In addition, volunteers from the HZI and the TU Braunschweig have volunteered to support the hospital’s laboratory team in carrying out and evaluating tests.

To the HZI’S announcement (information in German)

Monday, 20 April 2020

CISPA’s withdrawal from PEPP-PT and ongoing contribution to DP-3T

The Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA) made the decision to withdraw from the European project PEPP-PT. It  was established to develop a contact tracing app using Bluetooth Low Energy to suppress further coronavirus outbreaks. In an online statement, the scientists explain their decision. They argue that only a state-of-the-art decentralised technology with strong security guarantees can offer adequate safeguards. Therefore CISPA will continue its work on the decentralised solution DP-3T.

To the Announcement

Lung Information Service: Abrupt decline in acute respiratory diseases in Germany

The Lung Information Service - a service offered by Helmholtz Zentrum München - refers to current Robert Koch Institute (RKI) data which shows that the rate of acute respiratory diseases has fallen sharply in Germany since the beginning of March 2020. Such a significant decrease is extremely unusual. For the RKI, this indicates that the current measures to contain the corona epidemic are slowing down the spread of respiratory diseases generally.

To the Announcement (in German)

Friday, 17 April 2020

First German health authorities use the HZI’s SORMAS app for contact person management

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) has developed an app for disease control, which can now also be used for contact person management in the coronavirus pandemic. The HZI is now making the app called SORMAS available to the German public health service together with the Robert Koch Institute. With immediate effect, the public health offices in Gießen, Bielefeld, Goslar and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg in Berlin are using this application.

To the Tweet

Forschungszentrum Jülich provides computing power to MDC

A research group at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) needs more computing power to test the most promising drugs against COVID19 proteins. Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Jülich Supercomputing Centre support the MDC and have provided the research group with four million additional hours of computing time.

To the Tweet

Thursday, 16 April 2020

GSI/FAIR research supports the fight against corona

The GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung an the new accelerator facility FAIR at GSI use their research potential and infrastructure to contribute to the management of the current corona pandemic. In several areas at GSI/FAIR, scientists are working to provide new insights and technologies that may help to fight the corona virus SARS-CoV-2. To this aim, the accelerators and laboratories on the Darmstadt campus are also being used. The laboratory is operational, while strictly abiding to safety regulations.

Announcement of the GSI

MDC employees making masks to help fight coronavirus

Face masks – the mouth-and-nose covering kind – are urgently needed in many places in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, as much as possible. Employees at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine MDC are now sewing such masks, which are being distributed to neighborhood community centers and a refugee shelter.

Announcement of the MDC

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Helmholtz President Otmar D. Wiestler interviewed by WELT on the corona crisis exit strategy

The pathogen SARS-CoV-2 and the lung disease COVID-19 it causes are changing people's private and working lives worldwide. Otmar D. Wiestler, the President of the Helmholtz Association, explains the positions and recommendations in the fight against the corona virus in an interview with WELT. He describes three scenarios of how the virus’ spread would affect the health care system, depending on the intensity of the measures chosen.

WELT interview with Otmar D. Wiestler (information in German)

Wolfgang Marquardt (Research Centre Jülich) on the further course of action in the corona pandemic

The National Academy Leopoldina and the Helmholtz Association assess the situation and make recommendations for further action in recently issued statements. Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich and co-author of both statements, comments on the outlined strategies and their relationship to each other.

To the interview (in German)

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

KIT Supports Karlsruhe Clinics with Protective Equipment

Corona Help: Masks and visors are sent to the Municipal Hospital and ViDia Clinics, among others - central coordination of requests and offers of help at KIT.

To the Announcement (in German)

Monday, 13 April 2020

Helmholtz position paper on the epidemiological situation

Experts of the Helmholtz Association assess the current situation in Germany in a statement. They model the further course of the epidemic, taking into account various scenarios for relaxing the contact ban and make recommendations. 

To the statement (information in German)

Leopoldina researchers publish third opinion

The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina publishes the third ad hoc comment on the corona pandemic. It covers psychological, social, legal, educational and economic aspects. The paper also contains a concrete roadmap for ending the contact ban.

To the comment

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Robert Koch Institute starts nationwide antibody studies in cooperation with the HZI

How widespread is the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 actually in Germany? How many people have already been infected and are immune? This is what scientists from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) want to find out in several large-scale studies. The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig is cooperating with the RKI to study the population in particularly affected areas.

HZI Report (in German)

Online survey on olfactory and taste disorders in COVID-19

An international team of researchers is conducting a worldwide online survey to find out whether olfactory and taste disorders are symptoms that can be used to differentiate COVID-19 from other respiratory diseases. Scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich are also involved in the project. The online survey is available as of today.

FZ Jülich report with link to the survey (information in German)

Using supercomputers to find effective drugs against coronavirus proteins

Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich are participating in an EU project in which the largest supercomputer centers in Europe are to screen billions of molecules against the coronavirus’ proteins. The project’s aim is to identify effective antiviral drugs against such proteins from the pool of commercially available drugs. Scientists Giulia Rossetti and Paolo Carloni from the Jülich Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine present their work.

To the interview

MDC helps Charité with sequencing SARS-CoV-2 dataset

The Institute for Virology at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin has visualized sequences of the German SARS-CoV-2 dataset. The Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) contributed in the sequencing work.

To the Announcement

GEOMAR informs about marine research in times of the Corona pandemic

Working from home, research ships taking a break and an expedition that has been successfully completed: The GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Oceanography provides information on the status quo of marine research in Kiel. Research expeditions are currently only possible to a limited extent.

To the article (information in German)

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

HZI about risk assessment: "It's too early to relax restrictions"

Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig are simulating the effect of various conditions on the development of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Germany. Their results suggest that the restrictions on social life are effective at slowing the virus spread and that further slowing down the spread by these means is possible. They warn against easing the restrictions now to prevent overburdening the health care system.

To the HZI’s report (information in German)

Researchers at Forschungszentrum Jülich want to curb the coronavirus’ the spread

Structural biologists at the Institute for Biological Information Processes at Forschungszentrum Jülich want to use their research to prevent the coronavirus from attaching to host cells, fusing with them and thus spreading. They are developing a ligand, a specific binding molecule that displaces a specific binding protein of the virus from the receptor of a host cell. Dieter Willbold, Director of the Institute, presents this approach in an interview.

To the interview (information in German)

Summer Semester at KIT Starts Online

The 2020 summer semester at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will start on April 20, 2020, right on time for the planned start of lectures - initially with exclusively digital courses and without students on campus. Classroom teaching will only be reintroduced step by step. Due to the corona crisis, the state government had suspended the courses throughout Baden-Württemberg until April 19, 2020.

KIT’s Announcement

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Minus 1.2 per cent: Risk layer reports slight decline in the number of infected people

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s (KIT) The Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) collects data on the Sars-CoV-2 epidemic together with Risklayer GmbH - an analysis database for risk assessment.

To the tweet

Alfred Wegener Institute donates protective equipment

The Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) has handed over more than 28,000 disposable gloves to the Bremerhaven fire brigade. As laboratory operations at the institute are reduced, the available protective equipment will be donated to Bremerhaven facilities.

To the tweet

Monday, 6 April 2020

Expert group pleads for step-by-step plan after the shutdown – HZI epidemiologist Gérard Krause is involved

An interdisciplinary group of scientists, including Gérard Krause, Head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), is advocating for gradually easing the existing restrictions on society and the economy while ensuring medical care for the entire population. The strategy envisages gradually easing current restrictions in a differentiated manner and by continuously weighing up the risks. Priority should be given to restrictions that cause high economic costs or lead to severe social and health burdens.

The expert group’s position paper

Message by the HZI


Friday, 3 April 2020

The Ethics Council’s Recommendation on how to deal with the Corona crisis: Interview with Katrin Amunts, Vice-Chairwoman

The coronavirus presents our society with unprecedented challenges and at the same time confronts it with ethical conflicts. On the one hand, we have to contain the pandemic. On the other hand, social and economic consequences such as restrictions on freedom and forced closures need to be continuously assessed. Brain researcher Katrin Amunts from the Jülich Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine is deputy chair of the German Ethics Council and explains the central points of the recommendation published by the Ethics Council for dealing with the corona crisis.

To the interview

Helmholtz Leadership Academy’s Program continues

The Helmholtz Leadership Academy is currently developing and realizing needs-based virtual formats for participants and alumni in order to provide community leaders with a forum for joint learning and exchange even during the Corona crisis.

Helmholtz Leadership Academy

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ donates protective equipment

Almost 2,000 FFP protection class 2 masks and other protective equipment from the GFZ inventory now support the safety of health care workers in Berlin and Potsdam.

GFZ donates protective equipment to healthcare workers

The European Commission informs about funding opportunities for Coronavirus-related research and strengthens dialogue among researchers

The European Commission has started to compile a comprehensive list of funding opportunities for Coronavirus-related research under Horizon 2020 as well as other formats. It includes information on European and national calls. The website will be continuously expanded.

Website of the European Commission

The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation has also published a list of funding opportunities for Coronavirus-related research.

Website of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

In addition, the European Commission has opened a “Researchers’ Chat” on the EU Health Policy Platform. It aims at a more informal connection specifically among researchers studying SARS-CoV-2 to accelerate the exchange of findings.

Researcher's Chat (registration required)

Thursday, 2 April 2020

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the Alliance for MINT Education at Home (information in German) today, which is committed to providing high-quality MINT education even in times of school closures. The Helmholtz Association supports this alliance with experiments and scientific resources for children and young people.

Educational opportunities by Helmholtz (information in German)

Press release by the BMBF (information in German)

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

MDC upgrades online tool for COVID-19

Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) have developed a new online tool to present the course of the COVID-19 epidemic in Germany clearly and broken down by individual German states. The map and timeline now also show the case numbers for all countries worldwide.

Go to the MDC online tool (information in German)

Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) establishes Task Force

The HMGU has set up a task force under the leadership of Martin Hrabě de Angelis to coordinate all relevant research projects and supporting activities.


HZDR provides protective gear to the local university hospital

The Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has supplied protective gear to their cooperation partner at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden to curb the coronavirus’ further spread. The protective gear includes disposable protective suits, gloves, protective masks as well as soap and disinfectants. Under normal circumstances, the researchers at HZDR need this equipment, for example, when handling toxic chemicals, working in clean rooms or, as at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), when processing rock.

To the HZDR website (information in German)

Friday, 27 March 2020

Respiratory masks and parts for respirators: DLR retrofits 3D printer for medical protective equipment

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has successfully tested the conversion of its 3D printers. The printers normally produce models for aerospace research; in times of the corona crisis, they manufacture medical protective equipment:

DLR retrofits 3D printer to produce medical protective equipment

HZI supports local clinics with sequencing equipment and helps with patient swabs

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) is in close contact with the local clinics at all its locations. For example, the HZI has already made available sequencing equipment for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics. In addition, HZI staff are available to support the testing of patient swabs.

HZI website on the coronavirus

HZB donates protective clothing and equipment

The Helmhoiltz-Zentrum Berlin has decided to help quickly and donates protective clothing. Breathing masks, disposable gloves, overalls and disinfectants were handed over to the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Berlin today.

Give results by analyzing medical images at home: DKFZ spin-off provides app free of charge

The corona crisis is forcing doctors' practices and clinics to take part in the nationwide conversion to home office or mobile working immediately – a conversion that may have otherwise required months, if not years of preparation for them. mbits, a spin-off by the German Cancer Research Center, has created a mobile communication center for radiological images with its mRay app. The company is now making the software available to doctors and clinics free of charge for the duration of the crisis.

DKFZ spin-off provides app free of charge

Research operations at the Helmholtz Centers

Each of the 19 Helmholtz Centers has defined a mode of operation during the coronavirus pandemic according to legal, regional and research-specific conditions and in coordination with the respective crisis management groups.

A distinction is made between:

  • Normal operation: normal full operation;
  • Basic operation: possibility of home office and reduced hours or shift work in research.
  • Minimum operation: Research on campus is suspended with a few exceptions. These include, for example, the maintenance of critical infrastructures and, if necessary, research relevant to SARS-CoV-2.

Currently, 14 Helmholtz Centers are in basic operation and five Centers are in minimal operation. Numerous Helmholtz experts therefore continue to work at full speed to deliver the latest research results on SARS-CoV-2. In addition, research that can be carried out with a small number of people in individual rooms or in shift work, as well as research that can be carried out at the recommended minimum distance of 1.5 meters or 2.5 meters continues. Numerous researchers are working from home, for example, on data evaluation.

Information by the Centers:

Alfred Wegener Institute

Deutsches Elektronen-Sychotron DESY

German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) (Information in German)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Forschungszentrum Jülich

GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel

GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)   

Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf (HZDR) (Information in German)

Helmholtz Center for Information Security – CISPA

Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ (Information in German)

Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht - Centre for Materials and Coastal Research

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU)

Max Plack Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) (Associate Member)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)  

"We do everything we can to continue to deliver important research results that help to combat the coronavirus pandemic"

The President of the Helmholtz Association Otmar D. Wiestler explains what Helmholtz as a research organization does to continue to deliver important research results that help to combat the current pandemic and cope with the consequences of the crisis.

Otmar D. Wiestler describes the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on science

How research and scientific institutions deal with the corona pandemic

The corona pandemic has an impact on calls for proposals, scholarships and fellowships. Scientists, scholarship holders and fellows can find up-to-date information and contact details on the following pages.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (in German)

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

German Academic Exchange Service

Information by other research organisations

Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics



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