What exoplanets have to do with the coronavirus

Astrophysics and epidemiology: The image on the left shows an artist’s impression of a sunset over the exoplanet KELT-9b (© Denis Bajram). The image on the right is from an artistic animation of the coronavirus © Pexels

25.11.2019 – Astrophysicist Kevin Heng and epidemiologist Christian Althaus have just published a joint study. In an interview with «uniaktuell», the two researchers explain what the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 has to do with exoplanetary chemistry and what they hope to gain from INPUT, a newly founded interfaculty platform.

Astrophysics and epidemiology – how do they go together? The contact between the Center for Space and Habitability CSH and the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine ISPM was established in 2018, as Kevin Heng, director of CSH, explains: «Oscar Franco, who was the new director at ISPM then, and I had various discussions to explore a possible collaboration. Christian Althaus was also present at one of these meetings. That's how we met.» The COVID-19 pandemic then expedited the collaboration between astrophysicist Heng and epidemiologist Althaus to such an extent that they were not only jointly involved in two studies on COVID-19, but they have now institutionalized the cross-faculty collaboration on the new INPUT platform. ...