The kick-off of the European project "EuCARE: European cohorts of patients and schools to advance response to epidemics", will be in Rome on 11 November 2021, dedicated to clarifying some of the crucial and most debated aspects of the epidemic from SARS-COV-2.
- How do SARS-COV-2 variants, along with other factors, affect the clinical course of COVID-19?
- Are there any variants that make any of the vaccines currently in use, or future ones, less effective? Or that escape serological and / or molecular tests?
- Do the variants influence, and how, the spread in the school environment? Can we define a better testing and containment strategy in schools? What is and what has been the impact of containment measures, including DAD, on pupils and teachers?
Coordinated by the Italian EuResist Network, 22 universities, hospitals and research centers will work to provide solid, data-based answers, with the support of strong immuno-virological components and artificial intelligence.
The launch of the project will take place in Rome on 11 and 12 November at the Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio and will see the participation of 60 scientists from Europe and the world and WHO representatives for a full and open sharing of data.
"Thanks to the vaccine, in Italy and in Europe we are managing to keep the infection and its effects fairly under control but many questions remain", says Francesca Incardona, coordinator of the project, "In many countries, even close to us, the epidemic continues to run, this allows new variants to emerge and pose disturbing questions that only multidisciplinary scientific collaborations with large databases can address. For this reason, the European Union has launched an emergency call to the scientific community and has deployed huge funding. We are happy to be able to contribute and at the same time we feel a great sense of responsibility. "
The study will make use of cohorts of hospital patients, including so-called "long COVID" patients, cohorts of vaccinated health workers and cohorts of schools in Europe, Kenya, Mexico, Russia and Vietnam for a total of over 2600 COVID-19 patients, 1600 health workers and 26,000 students and teachers followed in prospective studies.
Antonella D’Arminio Monforte, full professor and director of the Clinic of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the ASST SS Paolo e Carlo and University of Milan, participates on the Italian side in patient cohort studies under the guidance of the Karolinska Institutet. "About 10% of patients between 18 and 59 years and higher percentages with increasing age have persistent clinical symptoms for months, that is, they develop the so-called long-COVID", he explains, "There are many open questions on this front. , for example. which patients and why they fall ill with long-COVID and what will be the long-term course for the numerous, different pathologies involved. "
“Society has been affected by COVID-19 in several respects, one of which, largely underestimated, is the school. To study it, we also involved students in the project, through their European federation, OBESSU ", continues Incardona," We will enroll schools in different socio-economic contexts and we will evaluate with a prospective trial a rapid and economical group salivary test methodology developed by 'German University of Cologne, which is emerging as a non-invasive control tool for the epidemic ”. "We will also study the psychological aspects of containment measures", adds Sara Gandini, epidemiologist at the European Institute of Oncology, "And the spread of the epidemic in schools by comparing it with our 2020 studies." The National Institute for Infectious Diseases L. Spallanzani also participates in the study.
The EuCARE project envisages horizontal service structures for cohort studies: for data analysis through artificial intelligence methods under the guidance of IBM Israel and for investigations on samples with the most advanced virological and immunological systems under the guidance of Maurizio Zazzi, professor of Microbiology at the University of Siena. "The project's network of laboratories will not only divide the commitment between different structures," explains Zazzi, "But it will share information on emerging good practices, kits and tools in real time, creating a distributed infrastructure with uniform capabilities and able to react in quick times also to any new epidemics. " "For example, we will make available our expertise in the analysis of high-resolution viral sequences," adds Francesca Ceccherini Silberstein, professor of Microbiology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
A project therefore that not only seeks answers to today's pandemic, but that wants to build capacity to face those that, alas, could arise tomorrow.
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