As part of the European response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Rapid European COVID-19 Emergency Research response - RECOVER - was launched and has started. It originates from PREPARE (Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-) emerging Epidemics). RECOVER is funded by the European Union (EU) under the Horizon 2020 research framework. It will address the most urgent questions for patient and public health.
Together with 10 international partners, COMBACTE is part of RECOVER. COMBACTE’s established clinical and laboratory network - containing more than 1000 hospitals, and 750 laboratories - is used to conduct clinical research within RECOVER. Through this research, RECOVER will address key knowledge gaps, such as identifying best approaches to prevent further spread of the disease and the way the virus interacts with its human host. This scientific evidence can be used by clinical, public health, and policy decision-makers on the best ways to protect health and save lives.
RECOVER had its first official meeting on March 10 in Amsterdam. It was attended by the international partners, the European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). During this meeting some immediate next steps were agreed on by the consortium:
- A study to identify the prevalence, disease spectrum and severity, risk factors, spread and outcomes of COVID-19 in patients in hospital and primary care;
- A survey to understand EU citizens’ experience of COVID-19 and its impacts;
- A study to understand household transmission and the impact of interventions to mitigate transmission;
- A study to better understand if and how children may contribute to the spread of the virus;
- Recommendations to the EU on protecting the health of those at the frontline of the outbreak.
These efforts will complement ongoing research in China and other parts of the world.
The RECOVER project will run for approximately two years. Using existing clinical research infrastructures such as COMBACTE, EU and Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) investments are optimally leveraged in support of this effort. The results of all RECOVER studies will immediately inform the European response to COVID-19. It will also inform future research response efforts to further strengthen Europe’s preparedness for emerging infectious disease outbreaks.
On March 11 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The WHO China office was first informed of patients infected with pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. This was discovered to be SARS-CoV-2. By 24 January 2020 the first European cases were recorded.
The exponential spread of this virus can only be fought by an exponential increase in knowledge. For that reason the RECOVER consortium brings together pre-clinical and clinical experts. Even at the kickoff meeting the initial plans were already adapted to the most recent scientific insights. We aim to launch a coordinated research approach within weeks.
We are very grateful that the European Union is supporting initiatives that tackle this pandemic. RECOVER is a unique project, integrating fundamental biological knowledge with social and clinical research, to broaden the understanding of this disease and thereby save lives.