IFAE Covid Highlights

of 2020

Within a span of just a few weeks, COVID-19 fundamentally changed the world we live in. The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing slowed down our research in 2020 but at the same time it has spurred us to contribute in various ways to the fight against the pandemic.

Find below a list of activities in which IFAE has contributed to the COVID-19 fight.


3D printing of medical equipment for Covid-19 fight

IFAE contributed new designs and production of medical material in coordination with LEITAT and Parc Taulí

IFAE engineer Juli Mundet moved the IFAE 3D printers to his home to start the manufacturing of 3D printed components for ventilators and other medical equipment for coronavirus fight. This initiative was coordinated with LEITAT and Parc Taulí. The material was delivered regularly to Parc Tauli in Sabadell.


IFAE donates protection equipment to UAB hospitals

IFAE donated its stock of clean-room protection equipment to the UAB-related hospitals (St. Pau, Vall d’Hebró, Parc Taulí, Germans Tries i Pujol, among others). In total, almost 2000 items including masks, gloves, and booties. This was done through the UAB and managed by Jorge García and Cristobal Padilla.


PIC’s computing resources at the service of COVID-19 research

The LHC experiments at CERN rolled out a coordinated effort to dedicate part of the world-wide LHC data processing infrastructure to COVID-19 research running the Folding@Home collaborative computational project. As one of the nodes in the LHC infrastructure, PIC participated in this initiative.

The Folding@Home project uses computer simulations to understand how proteins fold into 3D shapes to perform various functions. Viruses have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. To help tackle coronavirus, the simulations aim to understand how these viral proteins work to help design therapeutics to stop them.

More than one million computers were part of the system, adding up to an estimated computing capacity of 1.5 exaflops, ten times higher than that of the world’s most powerful supercomputer.


Simulation of the expansion of the Covid-19 in Catalunya

During the 2020 pandemic, IFAE researchers started to work on detailed simulations of the expansion of COVID-19 in the province of Barcelona in collaboration with the Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (CED) and the Internet Research Center (i2CAT), and with some advice from medical doctors. Two approaches are explored: analytic and stochastic.

IFAE was awarded financial support in the AGAUR call “Replegar-se per créixer: l’impacte de les pandèmies en un món sense fronteres visibles” (PANDÈMIES-2020) for the project ‘A powerful stochastic tool to assess the impact of the COVID-19 in Catalonia integrating detailed demographic and mobility data’

This is a coordinated project led by IFAE (M. Bosman IP) together with CED and I2CAT. The IFAE team contributing so far includes L. Gabbanelli, M. Manera, M. Martinez, P.Masjuan, Ll. Mir, I. Riu and V. Vitagliano.


Scientific Research Awards by the Barcelona City Council to COVID-19 outrbreak simulation project

IFAE researcher Pere Masjuan is leading this project with the aim to develop a software tool to simulate COVID-19 spread by leveraging newly available demographic, mobility, and health data based on group theory techniques.

On March 2021, the Barcelona city council announced the Scientific Research Awards to the 15 selected proposals for solving urban challenges in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project “Simulating the expansion of the COVID-19 outbreak: a risk forecast tool considering socioeconomic and gender inequalities in Barcelona” was one of the projects awarded. Its main deliverable will consist of a user-friendly web interface for researchers to explore the determinants of the COVID-19 expansion with respect to socioeconomic and gender inequalities in Barcelona.


PHIL project featured in the list of ATTRACT technologies to help fight Covid-19

A project led by IFAE researcher Thorsten Lux in collaboration with LEITAT to develop a Photonic System for Liquid Biopsy was selected in the ATTRACT list of technologies to help fight Covid-19

The PHIL project featured in the list of ATTRACT technologies to help fight Covid-19. The detection system proposed in the PHIL project could detect purified coronavirus RNA with sensitivity of 90-100% and specificity 100% without the time-consuming reverse transcription and amplification steps needed by the diagnostic tool (RT-PCR) currently used for the coronavirus.