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Research projects and activities related to COVID-19

Scientists at the Institute of Public Health contribute to the containment and better understanding of the corona pandemic in various areas:

  • Research Projects
  • Publications
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Research projects

CoVBot: AI-supported Coronavirus hotline asssistent

Study to test technical possibilities of an AI-supported coronavirus hotline assistant (CovBot) to support the telephone hotline at German health authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, the telephone hotlines of German health authorities were already overloaded due to the large number of inquiries, which is why important information could not be passed on. In order to counter this problem, the BMG-funded research project wants to test the technical possibilities of an AI-supported coronavirus hotline assistant (CovBot). The additional benefit of the new voice bot technology should be to assess the urgency of calls and, depending on this, to identify the right information or interlocutors in order to improve the accessibility of telephone hotlines at German health authorities.

About the project
The project is carried out together with the Berlin-based start-up company Aaron GmbH. The team of researchers at the Institute of Public Health headed by Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth is accompanying the development and implementation of the "CovBot" as a pilot project at three public health departments in Germany and is testing its relevance. The feasibility and effectiveness of the language offering to relieve the health authorities of the burden of crisis management will also be comprehensively evaluated.

In June, more than one hundred employees of public health authorities throughout Germany were anonymously questioned about the potential use of voice-bot technology at public health authorities as part of an analysis of needs and requirements. This feedback was the most important source for the project concept, along with interviews with citizens.
In August the development and implementation of the CovBot was started by Aaron GmbH. Initial feedback from the three test health authorities was positive. The funding phase of the project runs until the end of this year and includes the execution and evaluation of employee surveys and expert interviews at different implementation dates.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth

Working group "Population" within the Berlin test strategy at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth heads the Population working group within the framework of the Berlin Test Strategy. More information can be found on the following website:

Projects under review

Together with the Institute for Applied Health Research Berlin, the following project idea was submitted for Covid-19 within the framework of the National Research Network of University Medicine and is currently in the review process: "Ad hoc use of GKV data and supplementary medical data for health care research in the event of a pandemic".



  • BMJ, Publikation:
    Use of all cause mortality to quantify the consequences of covid-19 in Nembro, Lombardy: descriptive study.
    Piccininni M, Rohmann JL, Foresti L, Lurani C, Kurth T. BMJ. 2020 May 14;369:m1835. doi:10.1136/bmj.m1835
    link to press release; link to paper
  • BMJ, Opinion:
    A parallel pandemic: the crush of covid-19 publications tests the capacity of scientific publishing
    Tobias Kurth, Institute of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Marco Piccininni, Institute of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Elizabeth W. Loder, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and Head of research, The BMJ, Jessica L. Rohmann, Institute of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
    link to article BMJ

Science communication

  • Interview with Prof. Tobias Kurth on the occasion of the publication of the publication on excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nembro/Lombardy on Deutschlandfunk
  • Interview with Prof. Elke Schäffner on general infection epidemiological questions in Bild der Frau
  • Provision of brochuren (available online) with online or telephone consultation services for patients with lung cancer or strokes and their relatives within the framework of Navicare
  • BEMC-Talk 3.6.2020: Laura Wynants, Netherlands, “A journey through the disorderly world of diagnostic and prognostic models for covid-19”