Green light for the national research programme Corona Immunitas


Institutional Communication Service

27 April 2020

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on 23 April its support for "Corona Immunitas", a Swiss-wide research programme for the collection of epidemiological data on immunity to SARS CoV-2, and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the population. The initiative is led by the Swiss School of Public Health SSPH+ and involves 12 universities and professional universities, including USI and SUPSI as partners in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

How is this study performed? As part of the research programme, which is designed to last at least six months, people are recruited throughout the country, blood tests are taken to find SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and a series of structured interviews are conducted to find out and measure the impact of COVID-19. "The data - explains Prof. Emiliano Albanese, Director of the USI Institute of Public Health - are representative of the Swiss population and will provide information on the number of people who have antibodies against the novel coronavirus, the period of immunity, and the possibility of re-infection despite the antibodies. These data will be supplemented by an extensive survey on the impact of the epidemic and the public health measures required. We will evaluate sociological, psychological, and health aspects in general, as well as economic aspects. All of these are extremely relevant to understand not only what is right to fight the epidemic, but also what is best for Ticino and its population".

"This initiative is an excellent example of cooperation between the Confederation, the cantons, universities, and universities of applied sciences. USI and SUPSI, together with the other universities involved, are networking their scientific and research expertise and becoming an important point of contact for the people involved in the region," explains Suzanne Suggs, Professor of Social Marketing at the Institute of Public Communication (USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society) and the Institute of Public Health (USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences), and Vice-President of SSPH+.

The initiative is one of the studies aimed at providing reliable data on the number of people with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in individual regions and specific population groups, and extends this objective to the more ambitious one of knowing and measuring the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on people, communities, and society as a whole. In this way, a research programme is taking shape, which is developed through different projects. In Ticino, in fact, the study performed by the cantonal physician's office and the serological studies involving health personnel performed in collaboration between hospitals, covid-19 centres, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (affiliated to USI) and Humabs BioMed. "This complementarity between ongoing studies at regional and national level shows the importance of coordinated action for a complete and accurate data collection. The Institute of Public Health at USI, together with the Department of Business Administration, Health and Social Affairs at SUPSI (DEASS), will play an important role in studying the impact of this pandemic on the health of the population and in providing indications on how the perception of risk has changed over time, in order to prepare the population to deal with any further pandemic waves and to better prepare the response of the health system", adds Luca Crivelli, Director of DEASS, lecturer at USI (Institute of Economics) and Deputy Director of SSPH+.

Corona Immunitas is a public-private partnership supported by public institutions, businesses and individuals. More information about the project, available in the three official languages and in English, can be found at