HELICON - Unravelling the long-term and indirect health impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Belgium

Last updated on 15-2-2023 by Cassandre Dugailliez
Project duration:
January 1, 2021
June 30, 2025

In short

HELICON aims to unravel the long-term and indirect health impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Belgium. Throughout the project, 4 guiding principles are respected:

  1. Valorisation of surveillance data and administrative health data
  2. Evaluation of socio-economic and socio-demographic differentials
  3. Evaluation of differentials across the different waves of the epidemic
  4. Knowledge translation and policy transfer

Project description

The spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting outbreak of the disease COVID-19 has faced Belgium and most other countries worldwide with unprecedented challenges. During the crisis, active surveillance systems have been put in place to monitor in real-time the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths. These data provide valuable insights in the direct health impact of COVID-19 in Belgium, in terms of the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths. These data are completed by excess mortality estimates, showing substantial increases in excess mortality in 2020.

Despite the wealth of information on the current, immediate impact of COVID-19, three main knowledge gaps remain:

  • What is the social patterning of COVID-19? 
  • What are the long-term direct health impacts of severe COVID-19 infections? 
  • What are the indirect health impacts caused by the measures and behaviour changes installed to fight COVID-19?

To address these challenges, HELICON sets up data linkages between available COVID-19 data and administrative data sources, covering social characteristics, health care use, costs and mortality data. The project builds on a multidisciplinary consortium of clinicians, epidemiologists, sociologists, demographers and health economists to analyse and interpret these data.

The project consists of six work packages:

  • WP1: COVID-19 and social patterning
  • WP2: Direct long-term health impact of COVID-19
  • WP3: Indirect health economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis
  • WP4: Coordination, project management and reporting
  • WP5: Data management
  • WP6: Valorisation, dissemination and exploitation of the results  

More information is available via the HELICON website.  


Niko Speybroeck
Sylvie Gadeyne
Christophe Vanroelen
Laura Van Den Borre
Delphine De Smedt
Nick Verhaeghe
Wim Van Lancker

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