COVID-19: support research
March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic plunged nearly every country around the world into an unprecedented health and social crisis. In response to the health emergency and the risk of a humanitarian disaster, the Foundation swung into action, providing emergency funds to help scientific research institutions and partner organizations.
More than 215 million confirmed cases. Over 4.5 million people dead. 221 countries and territories affected*. Economic sectors shut down. Countries in recession. These figures are alarming and did not stop to increase. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its unparalleled scope, has put our healthcare systems and social safety nets to the ultimate test. In response to this health and social emergency, the Air Liquide Foundation implemented the COVID-19 initiative in March 2020. The Foundation has provided for an exceptional additional fund of over two million euros for the next two years. The goal is two-fold: to support scientific research into the impact of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus on respiratory systems, and to increase aid to our partner organizations who are active on the ground, working with the populations that have been hit the hardest by the disease and the lockdown. The large number of requests received by the Foundation has led us to hold selection committee meetings more often so we could respond to requests as quickly as possible. The Committee and the Board have reviewed 35 projects and approved 94% of them.
"This unparalleled health crisis has highlighted the incredible engagement the Foundation teams bring, from project review to funds transfers. Each link in the chain got to work right away, demonstrating the power and efficiency of our organization. This unprecedented situation has also helped strengthen our ties with partner organizations. They all appreciate our proactive efforts. Their moving feedback and thanks have come pouring in and it shows that we are doing the right thing."
Bruno Leprince-Ringuet, General Manager of the Air Liquide Foundation
Perspectives on the Foundation's action in the face of this pandemic
Video | September 28, 2020
Viewpoints from Professor Pierre Carli, volunteer Board member for the Air Liquide Foundation and Bruno Rostaing-Capaillan, representing the shareholders on the Project selection committee (2018-2020) on the Foundation's response to the pandemic
Number of supported projects since March 2020
11 scientific projects
Scientific Research Projects Advancing research to better understand and treat the virus
Advancing science so we can all breathe better. That is one of the Foundation's core missions. With a long track record of supporting scientific research on respiratory diseases, the Foundation got in touch with our scientific partners in the earliest days of the pandemic to find out what they needed and offer our help. To ensure that these COVID-19 research initiatives would be useful and effective, the Foundation set up an elite scientific committee comprising the Scientific director for the Air Liquide group, the Group's medical director and a Medical expert from the Project selection committee.
The Foundation is now supporting ten research projects that fall into three categories:
- better understanding the virus, how it affects the lungs and how it is transmitted
- improving care for patients with respiratory failure
- understanding its long-term effects on the lungs
These two-year projects are overseen by an Air Liquide scientific evaluator ; they have already been published in the best scientific journals.
projects from French and European research organizations: La Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris; International Center for Infectiology Research, Lyon; the Grenoble Alpes University Hospital Center and Grenoble Alpes University; Institut Pasteur, Paris; Vall d'Hebron Hospital, Barcelona; University of Liège, Belgium; Cochin Hospital & Association Robert Debré for medical research, Paris; KU Leuven, Belgium; François Jacob institute of biology and Institute of Cellular and Molecular Radiobiology (The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission - CEA), Paris.
This research primarily aims to:
- improve understanding and diagnostics, especially by detecting biomarkers that can predict changes in the disease
- identify potential innovative antiviral treatments
- conduct a quantitative study of human and animal exposure via inhaled air and determine risks and prevention methods
- improve ventilatory monitoring at patients' bedsides to help healthcare workers
- conduct a two-year study of respiratory function in patients with pneumonia caused by COVID-19
The Foundation is also reviewing other projects from European research organizations that are working on respiratory treatments for COVID-19 and has committed to providing a response as soon as possible.
"Our research team started working in mid-January 2020 and we were quickly able to isolate several strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from samples taken from the first hospitalized cases in France. The pandemic had just gotten underway when the Air Liquide Foundation contacted us and helped us purchase the fluorescence microscopy equipment we needed to continue our research. As part of the EPICOV project supported by the Foundation, our goal is to do an in-depth study of the impact the SARS-CoV-2 virus has on the respiratory epithelium in humans. This project will help expand our understanding of the virus and COVID-19. We began in vitro testing on many potential therapeutic molecules. Our work has been featured in many scientific publications and the data we collected led to several new clinical trials with volunteer patients in France."
Dr Olivier Terrier, Researcher at CNRS VirPath Team, International Center for Infectiology Research, Lyon