Massive research starts into societal impact of COVID-19 in Finland

Massive research has started in Finland into the societal impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, ranging from the choice of words by politicians to the impact of restrictions on family planning and birth rate, Finnish news agency Lannen Media reported on Sunday.

As the COVID-19 crisis started, Academy of Finland granted 9 million euros (9.74 million U.S. dollars) for studies of the impact and control of the epidemic. Next week another ten million euros granted by the state is up for application. While most spending goes to medical research, societal studies get major support as well.

Lannen Media published on Sunday a list of research projects Finnish universities had provided upon request. Universities could not release details about projects that have not yet secured funding, the agency said. In the medical sector, at least four Finnish projects work towards a vaccine.

At Aalto University fluid dynamics researchers have joined virologists in using a super computer for studying the way the virus spreads in the air as aerosol.

In societal studies, researchers are tackling the decision making in crisis situations. One theme is the role of leadership in making people to respect the restrictions. The choice of words by leading politicians has already come up in public discussion. Media noted that Finns abstained from traveling abroad, although the Finnish government never claimed directly that the borders were closed for Finns, the impression was created with a careful choice of words. Researchers will try to investigate the words used and why the citizens followed the advice.

Political scientists look at the impact of the crisis on populism in Finland. One theme is the fear of pandemic and how its impact differs in various age groups.

A project delves into the everyday life of families with children, the parenthood and also family planning. There has been speculation that COVID-19 could result in an increased birth rate next year. There is also one Finnish project reviewing the role of children in the epidemic especially in relation to the impact of the decision to close schools.

In University of Lapland in northern Finland’s Rovaniemi, the social repercussions of the restrictions on cross-border transit in the Finland-Sweden-Norway triangle are being researched.

Economics research projects cover unemployment, the chains of transport and the impact of working from home, according to the list published by Lannen Media.

As of Sunday, Finland has reported 6,347 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 298 deaths. According to a preliminary estimate, at least 5,000 people have recovered from the disease, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.