COVID-19 has been a life-changing experience for students in the ISGlobal–University of Barcelona Master of Global Health and Master Clinical Research - International Health Track. Most of the students come from outside of Europe, so they have been doubly affected by the pandemic: besides the cancellation of face-to-face teaching (classes have been online since March 16), they also had to go into lockdown in Barcelona, far from their homes and families.
For most of the students, these have been difficult weeks: loneliness, uncertainty about when they will be able to return to the classroom, and lots of pressure to finish their final project. Despite the difficulties, however, the pandemic has also provided a chance for the students to get involved, as health professionals, in the enormous challenge of fighting COVID-19. Marta Ribes, Neus Rosell, Natalia Ortega, Sara Torres, Sarah Williams, Angeline Cruz and Patricia Sotomayor volunteered to participate in the SEROCOV-1 project under the supervision of ISGlobal researcher and professor Alberto García Basteiro. The aim of the study is to measure the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in health care professionals working at Hospital Clínic in Barcelona.
Some students have participated in the SEROCOV-1 project to measure the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in health care professionals working at Hospital Clínic in Barcelona
The Students’ Experience
The SEROCOV-1 project was a great opportunity for us to help study COVID-19 and to apply everything we learned in class over the past year. We never imagined that we would be putting theory into practice under such exceptional circumstances: a pandemic that has caused massive economic, political and social upheaval, sent shock waves through the health care world, and revealed a lack of coordination and preparedness for an infectious disease emergency at both national and international levels.
When ISGlobal professor and researcher Alberto García-Basteiro contacted us, we immediately agreed to help out with the study. Since we got involved right at the beginning, we have been able to take part in the entire process: training, tweaking the design of recruitment procedures and questionnaires, handling the logistics of materials and venues, and liaising with study participants.
The study was carried out against a complex backdrop: shortages of certain materials, exceptional safety measures, events moving at a dizzying speed. Our objective was to collect data at the start of the epidemic, observe changes over time and share our findings as quickly as possible to further the global scientific community’s knowledge of the disease. Being involved in this process from the inside and sharing the experience with a wonderful team has been most enriching for us as professionals.”
Marta Ribes, Neus Rosell, Natalia Ortega, Sara Torres, Sarah Williams, Angeline Cruz and Patricia Sotomayor
The Experience of ISGlobal Professor and Researcher Alberto García-Basteiro
The students’ response to our call for research staff was spectacular. In less than 24 hours, we assembled about a dozen volunteers who had generously offered to help out with SEROCOV-1. Without them, it would not have been possible to conduct our first visits as quickly as we did.
For the students, this experience has been a real-life complement to their classes on epidemiology and research methodology. They have had the chance to put into practice many of the subjects covered in class: study design, implementation, data analysis and interpretation.