"Fast results of COVID-19 research thanks to close cooperation within the DCVA"

Just one year after the initial consultation of the CAPACITY-COVID project team, the research group publishes the results of a study on nearly 11,000 corona patients in 16 countries. “Apart from this strong result, we can be proud of the close cooperation that has made this possible,” says Wiek van Gilst. "That is the power of the DCVA."

The data was collected between March and November 2020, under the guidance of Professor Folkert Asselbergs (UMCU), chair of the DCVA data-infrastructure pillar. The researchers registered the disease progression of COVID-19 patients in the hospital via a specially adapted computer system. That was not an easy task, Van Gilst knows. “A lot of extra work has been done in the hospitals: the registration itself, tracking down people who were not yet registered, and complete the registration. This research involves a lot of volunteer work and overtime under already extreme circumstances.”

The DCVA was able to benefit from existing contacts and networks when setting up the research. “The relationship of trust that is necessary to follow a single approach with so many partners, national and international, was already there. We know each other and we want to support each other’s purpose. We were able to get started right away without the usual, typically Dutch discussions beforehand. WCN and NVVC in particular played a major role in the contact with hospitals.” Other active DCVA partners in the project team were NHR, Harteraad, NL-HI and the Dutch Heart Foundation.

Connecting science to practice was especially exciting. Van Gilst: “That versatility is crucial. Most of the time, people think from a practice point of view: here is another scientist who wants to know something and it will be time consuming. At the same time, of course, doctors prefer to work according to the latest scientific insights. I think what happened in the past year will prove good for that partnership. A lot of communication has started Processes have been simplified and accelerated.”

These results do represent a new challenge for the DCVA, says Wiek van Gilst. “There is a downside: heart failure patients are exceptionally affected and, if it turns out that COVID-19 also results in new cardiovascular patients, the burden of cardiovascular disease will increase. With that, continuing to work together to reduce this burden becomes even more important.”