© Bram Saeys

More than three-quarters of the COVID-19 patients treated at a Dutch Intensive Care (IC) were overweight. And because overweight people are 44% more likely to die from COVID-19, there is every reason to take that connection seriously. That death risk even rises to almost 80% for people with severe obesity.

The assumption is, therefore, that the fatty tissue, especially the abdominal fat, is the cause of the serious course of COVID-19 in these patients. But whether this is really the case, a team from the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is going to find out in the next two years.

The intensive care unit of the UMCG receives a subsidy of more than 450,000 euros from ZonMW to find out why COVID-19 patients are much more often overweight in the ICU than patients who do not attend the ICU. UMCG is also looking for the reason why they have more weight problems than ICU patients with other diseases. In addition, it is being investigated whether the drug Resveratrol can cure the serious (lung) inflammations that COVID-19 patients can develop. The research, led by Peter van der Voort, head of intensive care at UMCG, involves doctors and researchers at UMCG together with colleagues from Amphia Hospital and Amsterdam UMC.

Abdominal fat

Abdominal fat produces substances that strengthen the inflammatory reaction, including in the lungs. The question is whether this is more the case with COVID-19 than with other patients and what a possible treatment could be. Blood samples and fatty tissue from COVID patients and other patients are compared and examined in the laboratory.

The examination is carried out in 3 phases and should be completed within 24 months. The first intermediate results can be expected earlier.

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About the author

Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.