Since its emergence in 2019, SARS-CoV-2 has been a ‘moving target’, with different variants of concern emerging across the world, which may increase the transmissibility, severity and immune evasion of the virus.
Children and pregnant women can be more vulnerable to infections outbreaks. Monitoring these groups across regions is crucial given rapid changes in epidemiology due to varying country-level interventions, vaccine rollout, booster programmes and viral evolution, which have global effects.
As with SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, the future of the mpox outbreak in non-endemic countries remains uncertain. Therefore, it is important to continue to monitor the epidemiology in currently affected groups – particularly people living with or at high risk of HIV – as well as children and pregnant women, who could become more severely affected if there is more widespread infection in the community.
VERDI aims to address these issues by answering research questions on the impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in pregnant women, infants, children and adolescents primarily through observational cohort studies. VERDI will also focus on populations at increased risk for mpox, such as people living with HIV and people attending sexual health clinics.
Finally, VERDI will develop research preparedness in case there are changes in the ongoing outbreaks and possible (re-)emergence of future infections. The network will build on the well-established cohort partners involved across the world.
VERDI’s goals are:
- To conduct joint research to better understand the epidemiology, treatment and prevention of variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2 in children and pregnant women.
- To improve understanding of the epidemiology and impact of mpox in children, pregnant women and high-risk groups, such as people living with or at high risk of HIV.
- To exchange knowledge, build capacity and prepare for future response for effective control and prevention of COVID and mpox infection, developing recommendations for appropriate public policies (including vaccination policies).
- To accelerate and achieve research progress engaging with existing large scale, multicenter and international-facing European cohorts, augmented with long standing collaborating research groups from Europe and from other key regions in the world (USA, Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Caribbean).
- Better understanding of the epidemiology, treatment and prevention of variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2 and mpox in children, pregnant women and high risk groups, due to wide and diverse range of data
- Improved clinical management of pregnant women and children affected by COVID-19 and patients with mpox, resulting in reduced morbidity
- Optimised public health measures, informed by evidence
- Stronger links across relevant global cohorts and partners
- More coordinated research preparedness and response to emerging infectious disease threats.