The Greek universities and the pandemic COVID-19

Professor Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos

Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


Your excellence Ms. President of the Hellenic Republic

Dear Mrs Vardinoyianni

Dear esteemed guests and colleagues

One of the elements highlighted during the recent covid-19 pandemic is the collaboration, and the significant contribution of Greek public universities in dealing with this crisis. Medical schools, clinics and laboratories were the forerunners, and especially the Intensive Care Units. Our Universities and especially the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens have resolutely supported the effort to successfully tackle the pandemic. Thus, they proved in practice and in the present difficult conditions that the public university is an integral part of the Greek society and local communities, in particular, by undertaking academic research, but also extensive social action, which can be extended with regards to the modern challenges that our country and the international community  is confronting.

First of all, the vast majority of the members who formed the National Scientific Committee of experts of the Ministry of Health are academics and almost half of them are our university’s professors! The National Scientific Committee has produced a great deal of significant work based upon the university structures.

Furthermore, the Greek universities and especially the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens preserved in full operation all of their activities throughout the period of the lockdown. Many of our Medical School Clinics and Laboratories are among the covid-19 reference Clinics/Laboratories in Athens, that hospitalized covid-19 patients, in close contact with the medical colleagues from all over the world.

            In addition, the research work that has been carried out during this period related to coronavirus is significant. Departments, Clinics, Laboratories and many of our professors and researchers actively participated in international and national multicenter case management and epidemiological studies about COVID-19, with great contribution in significant research results. Until today 354 publications from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens have been registered in the international electronic database “Medline”.

Interestingly, the medical research is focused on unraveling the multisystemic manifestations of COVID-19, discovering novel treatment approaches such as the convalescent plasma exchange, and unraveling the immune response of the human body against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This research is mainly carried in collaboration with other Universities and research centers mainly in Europe and USA. Beyond these, important research is being carried out in other fields as well, including analyses in urban and nursing wastewater of several Greek cities, nationwide studies on the psychological effects of the pandemic, on citizens’ beliefs about the pandemic and its management, on issues regarding e-learning, travel and in general the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on citizens' lives.

In addition, intelligent applications have been developed with our international collaboration centers, preventing and addressing the spread of the pandemic, in supporting decision-making in combination with case detection and tele-monitoring of patients with COVID-19.

At the same time, guidelines have been issued by our universities’ clinics and laboratories addressing a range of issues during the pandemic, such as the hospitalization and pharmaceutical care of special categories of these patients, the restructure of hospital clinics in order to hospitalize patients with COVID-19, the implementation of new e-learning methods, stress management, and legal issues regarding personal data protection. It has to be mentioned that several of the members of the National and Kapodistrian University community have participated in the formulation of guidelines from international scientific communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, during this period voluntary blood donations were organized in many universities. Blood donations are essential for the management of many patients including victims from accidents, surgical patients and patients suffering from oncological and hematological diseases.  Regarding the latter, the COVID-19 pandemic did not reduce the needs for specialized oncological care.  The national efforts of continuing the challenging management and treatment of patients with malignant diseases and pediatric cancer in a COVID19-free environment during the pandemic have to be highlighted.

All of the above reported actions, along with research projects, clinical research programs, innovative treatments and epidemiological clinical studies are mainly based on international collaborations, represent our efforts for a more extrovert University, which is an integral part of the Greek society and, simultaneously, we strive to be among the pioneers in international research efforts. This is the University that we want; a university that "builds bridges", using as a "vehicle" new knowledge and international cooperation.

Your excellence Ms. President of the Hellenic Republic

Thanks to Mrs Marianna V.Vardinoyianni and ELPIDA, we gathered all of us together for the cancer patients and the cancer children in particular.  All together we will definitely combat this pandemic in the near future!!

Thank you very much all and congratulations for all this effort and dedication to the international collaboration efforts to combat covid19 pandemic.

Rector's Professor Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos Speech "The Greek universities and the pandemic COVID-19" on the Virtual Round Table Discussion about COVID-19 and childhood cancer, organized by ELPIDA Association of friends of Children with Cancer.