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EPI-NET Annual Meeting

The annual EPI-Net meeting took place on 3 December 2021. It was originally planned to be held in Seville, but due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in various European countries the decision was made to have a virtual meeting. The meeting focused on showcasing key EPI-Net updates, the transition into Ecraid and One Health activities.

Evelina Tacconelli hosted the meeting and started by highlighting the main areas of EPI-Net and the new One Health consensus program. She mentioned that the extension of the support period for the EPI-Net project was extended to December 2022. Furthermore, she pointed out that over the past years EPI-Net has produced 20 publications on epidemiological aspects of AMR, with specific focus on consensus documents and White papers on the importance of surveillance activities to control the spread of antibiotic resistant strains in Europe and linking EPI data with clinical and stewardship data. According to Evelina, the success of EPI-Net is built on collaboration. The most important updates from ongoing EPI-Net activities were already published on our website.

Key Note Speakers

There were several keynote speakers at this meeting. One of them was Laura Piddock, who  Evelina introduced as “One of the most relevant researchers in the field of AMR”. Laura J.V. Piddock is Professor of Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, UK. She joined the Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP) as Director of Scientific Affairs in January 2018. Her presentation was about the pandemic of drug resistant infections and what GARDP is doing to help tackle AMR. GARDP is a not-for-profit organization developing new treatments for drug resistant infections that pose the greatest threat to health. GARDP works with partners to ensure sustainable access to treatments, promoting responsible use and affordability to all in need. Like COMBACTE, it is a public-private partnership. After Laura’s presentation a question was asked on how to avoid overlap in research in this field and how to coordinate this better. Laura highlighted that this has already been a point of discussion and that it is very important to elaborate on. There should be a better global coordination of activities. Laura emphasized that the World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to streamline this better in the future.

As the second half of the meeting was a final Delphi round for the One Health Consensus Initiative, Estibaliz Lopez de Abechuco, from the One Health European Joint Programme, provided some background information about the European One Health Initiatives. One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach — working at local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. Estibaliz highlighted both ongoing and future initiatives.

The final speaker was Ramanan Laxminarayan, founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in Washington, D.C. and New Delhi, and a senior research scholar at Princeton University. He has worked to improve the understanding of antibiotic resistance as a problem of managing a shared global resource. His presentation was about One Health Surveillance. Surveillance helps understand drivers, reservoirs and pathways for the emergence and spread of resistant pathogens. Ramanan emphasized the importance to correlate resistance in different One Health domains involving humans, animals and ecosystems and to build evidence on drivers of resistance between the domains.

Transition to Ecraid

EPI-Net’s transition to Ecraid’s clinical research network is successfully taking place. During the annual meeting Marc Bonten gave a short introduction about the Ecraid network.

Within ECRAID-Base, EPI-Net will continue to innovate epidemiological research and analysis of drivers of antimicrobial resistance supporting the perpetual studies established by the Ecraid network. ECRAID-Base is the initial activity set for establishing Ecraid. Major focus of EPI-Net within ECRAID will be the assessment of clinical burden of antimicrobial resistant infections using surveillance and clinical data in different populations and settings.

In the first months of activities within ECRAID-Base , EPI-Net’s activities  have been focused on surveying the five Perpetual Observational Studies (POS) for alignment of EPI-Net and POS databases for data sharing. Based on the responses received, EPI-Net will:

  1. define a list of variables required for EPI-Net’s task of informing epidemiological data-driven site selection;
  2. define a list of variables for the clinical burden analysis of target infections and antimicrobial resistant bacteria;
  3. actively collaborate in the development of the different POS protocols and adapt the defined variables to the POS objectives.
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