VERDI’s Clinical Working Group: Understanding COVID-19’s effects on children

May 24, 2023

Did you know that within VERDI there are 4 Working Groups? These groups help our VERDI partners actively exchange ideas, designs, methods and results, while also identifying gaps and collaborative opportunities.


Today, we are excited to present you the VERDI Clinical Working Group, whose primary aim is to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on paediatric populations. Combining research efforts from multiple countries, this working group strives to inform clinical decision-making, improve paediatric healthcare practices, and develop targeted prevention, diagnostic, and treatment strategies for children.


Let’s hear from the Chairs of the VERDI Clinical Working Group: Daniele Donà, from the University Hospital of Padova and Penta – Child Health Research (Italy), and Marieke Van der Zalm, from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town (South Africa).


Why is it important to have a Clinical Working Group within VERDI?

The COVID-19 pandemic has predominantly affected adults; initially, children were thought to be less susceptible to severe illness. However, it has become evident that children can contract and transmit the virus, and some can experience significant disease or long-term effects.

For this reason, it is essential to assess the impact of COVID-19 on children, to understand risk factors for severe disease, the best diagnostic and treatment options and evaluate long-term complications and sequelae of the infection.


What contribution does the Clinical Woking Group bring to the VERDI project overall?

The impact that this Clinical Working Group wishes to achieve includes enhancing patient safety by describing peculiar clinical characteristics of children and infants infected by SARS-CoV-2 in different settings.

Furthermore, the Working Group sets out to standardise clinical practices and improving quality of care; facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration; and finally, advance research and innovation by studying the immune response to infection and vaccinations in children.


What is the added value of collaborating with institutions and cohorts within the VERDI Consortium?

The benefits of collaborating with institutions and cohorts within the VERDI Consortium are manifold.

First, collaborating with different institutions and cohorts within the consortium allows access to a wide range of expertise. Each institution or cohort may have unique knowledge, resources, and perspectives that can contribute to the research.

Second, collaboration increases data availability with a more comprehensive and diverse dataset for analysis, improving research generalisability and allowing for more accurate conclusions.

Furthermore, by incorporating different perspectives, experiences, and methodologies, our research can benefit from a more robust and comprehensive approach.

And last but not less critical, the collaboration increases credibility and impact. The involvement of multiple recognised organizations can lend validation and trustworthiness to the findings, increasing the potential for broader acceptance, dissemination, and adoption of the results.