Research works against Covid-19

Rector's statement

We can be proud of how, even more so in this moment of emergency, our University is putting its skills at the service of the country, working synergistically with institutions, research institutes and businesses. I especially thank all the colleagues who with dedication work tirelessly on this front too.

News from the Covid-19 Epicenter: under-reporting the fatality rate

This recent research work, by Paolo Buonanno, Sergio Galletta and Marcello Puca, provides new results on the misreported level of mortality in the Italian region of Lombardy and in the province of Bergamo using official and original data sources, and focuses on how severe has been under-reporting in COVID-19 diffusion and fatality rate in Lombardy.

Since February 2020 Lombardy and in particular the province of Bergamo have been severely hit by the novel COVID-19 infectious disease. Combining official statistics, retrospective data and original data (i.e., obituaries and death notices) the authors provide a tentative estimate of the “real” number of deaths caused by COVID-19 as well as the total number of persons infected. 

Findings suggest that the reported mortality rate attributable to COVID- 19 accounts only for 26.6% of the observed excess mortality rate between March 2020 and March 2019.

Read the full article here.

CovAid - Data analysis to help the hospital

The doctors of the Giovanni Paolo XXIII hospital’s I.C.U. collected a huge amount of data on the many hospitalized patients. Thus was born the CovAId initiative, promoted by a group of university professors (Michele Ermidoro, Ettore Lanzarone, Mirko Mazzoleni, Fabio Previdi and Andrea Remuzzi), who already collaborated with the dipartimento di Anestesia e Rianimazione of the hospital, led by prof. Lorini.
Lorini conducted the research towards the analysis of the data collected using machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence. Students of computer engineering and engineering for health technologies courses were also involved in the project activities, as well as some engineers who work for local companies, who generously made available their free time and their skills.

The study explores several topics:

  1. Analysis of ventilation parameters, to define the most effective set of parameters in relation to patients' lung compliance characteristics;
  2. Development of outcome prediction models, to identify the main risk factors;
  3. Creation of clustering models based on patients’ response to therapies;
  4. Analysis of the effectiveness of therapies with nitrogen oxide;
  5. Evaluation of the relationship between outcome and drug therapies;
  6. Correlation studies between diagnostic imaging and clinical parameters;
Prisons at the time of Coronavirus

Il carcere ai tempi dell’emergenza Covid-19, an article by Prof. Anna Lorenzetti of the UniBg Department of Law, provides some food for thought on the theme of prison, detention and the rights and freedoms of prisoners, as prisons are affected by emergency issues following the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prison institutions found themselves facing the emergency with some peculiarities, if compared to free society. Some attempts have been made to offer solutions to the difficulties generated by the spread of the infection, going from the administrative and practice level, to the jurisprudential one, to the regulatory one. As is well known, the issue was brought with vehemence in the media debate, following the violent protests that involved some prison institutions and on the occasion of which the numerous deaths of prisoners led the judiciary to start investigations.

Fight contagion with an App

The Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale, dell’Informazione e della Produzione (DIGIP) promotes a pilot survey on mobility and contagion risk with particular reference to the Seriana Valley, an area most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bergamo area.

Francesco Finazzi, professor of engineering and head of the research project together with colleague Alessandro Fassò, underlines that the study wants to help the populations involved in the emergency COVID-19 by monitoring the mobility of people anonymously in order to assess the risk of contagion and provide useful information to the community.

To find out more and participate in this research visit the dedicated page.

A proper use of the data for containment measures

This study is a joint work of the University of Bergamo with La Sapienza University of Rome, the University of Catania, the CNRS and Bocconi in Milan.

The researchers, including Professor Paolo Buonanno, investigated why the contagions and the Italian mortality rate represented a unique case in the European scene. Many explanations, also reviewed by the Italian press, referred to the Italian family structure (many young adults and the elderly living together) or to the fact that Italians have a lower respect for norms (such as quarantine).

Most of these (hasty) analyses compare data between different countries that are at a different stage of diffusion and that have different deceased detection methodologies.

An equivalent analysis conducted on the Italian regions alone overturns the results showing that in the absence of reliable and comparable data it is arbitrary and harmful to try to find explanations for a very complex phenomenon. It is necessary to mobilize scholars with experience in the evaluation of public policies, in the analysis of networks and in epidemiology to understand the complex dynamics underlying the epidemic and evaluate the effectiveness of alternative policies. To do this, it is essential to harmonize data and methodologies for collecting data on deaths, at least in all European countries.

Where possible, all available microdata on the outcome of tests, deaths and hospitalized patients should be made public. A study that highlights how much the global disaster requires an unprecedented effort on the part of the academic community. It is necessary to move quickly with the awareness of suggesting ineffective political recommendations which, in a period of crisis, can entail higher costs than the benefits.

Read the full article here.

A forecasting model for medical resources allocation

The Lancet, one of the most authoritative scientific journals in the world, publishes the forecast of a study conducted in collaboration by the Mario Negri Institute and the University of Bergamo that urges political leaders and national health authorities to move as quickly as possible to ensure that there are sufficient resources, including staff, beds and intensive care facilities, for what will happen in the coming days and weeks.

The forecasts reported by Andrea Remuzzi, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Bergamo and Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute on the basis of the data available on the number of COVID-19 patients, analyze on the one hand the trend of the trend of contagions and on the other the trend of patients in need of intensive care. The data available to date provided by the Ministry of Health basically follow an exponential model that indicates an R0 value between 2.8 to 3.2. If the increase in the number of infected patients follows the exponential trend also for the next week, there could be more than 30,000 infected within a few days.

Compared to the number of patients admitted to intensive care, this number has also increased exponentially on the basis of data provided by the Italian Ministry of Health with the same exponential law. Available data have shown that the trend in increasing the number of patients who will need intensive care will increase significantly and inexorably in the coming days. In the article it is expected that this number could saturate the capacity of the national health system in a few days. Comparing the trend in the number of active patients in Italy and that recorded in the Hubei region in China, similar to Italy in the number of inhabitants and the distribution of the infection, it can be inferred that within a few days this increase could however diverge from the trend exponential and slow down.

Read the complete article here.

Notte Europa della geografia: a webinar to talk about the disease spread

On the occasion of the Notte Europa della geografia, Prof. Geography Emanuela Casti, director of the Center for Studies on the Territory and head of the Diathesis cartographic laboratory, will speak at the webinar entitled "This Earth, this virus: organizing, thinking and teaching geography" by the coordination of the Italian geographical associations (SoGeI) to help give an answer on why the spread of the infection has assumed its current proportions in the Bergamo area.

Using the databases produced over the years on socio-territorial aspects and innovative web cartographic systems, researchers are relating the territorial aspects (population distribution, composition by age groups, various forms of mobility, work organization, pollution) with those made public by the Ministry of Health and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. Unprecedented results are emerging such as the different ages of the infected people depending on the Region, the diversity of distribution based on the type of data (real or percentage) and some socio-territorial implications when the percentage of the infection is related to the number of residents.

The article and the streaming available on the website of the Association of Italian geographers.