The third VERDI General Assembly meeting took place on 26-27 June 2023, in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, with over 70 participants from 29 centres of excellence within the VERDI Consortium attending the event, both online and in person. This meeting was particularly noteworthy as it marked the first General Assembly since the project’s scope was expanded in March, to include research on mpox and preparedness. This resulted in the inclusion of six new partners from Cyprus, Nigeria, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and the UK.
Despite the rapidly evolving epidemiology of COVID-19 and mpox in recent months, the VERDI Consortium was eager to gather and engage in discussions on fresh ideas, future plans, and the establishment of a robust research infrastructure for pandemic preparedness.
Over the course of the two-day event, partners presented their key achievements, including reached milestones, challenges encountered, lessons learned, and future steps in their work. Experts from institutions such as the WHO, the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Thai Ministry of Public Health, and ISARIC delivered noteworthy keynote addresses. These speeches emphasised the role of health authorities and policymakers in supporting EU-funded Consortia like VERDI for future preparedness plans, as well as drawing lessons from past pandemics to enhance future outbreak preparedness.
To encourage collaboration, align efforts, and explore future opportunities, VERDI partners engaged in working groups breakout sessions on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness, transmission, clinical studies, and household and school studies.
While the event highlighted the significant achievements of the VERDI consortium in the first 20 months of the project, its main focus was on future work and the challenges that lie ahead. Undoubtedly, the VERDI project has established itself as an exceptional platform for exchanging ideas and formulating strategies to effectively respond to future public health emergencies.