Published On: July 9, 2024

The ENDVOC consortium is now in a position to step up its cross-cohort analyses and to help fill gaps in key areas such as Long Covid and pandemic preparedness

“We must ensure that we are doing science that impacts European and global health,” said ENDVOC Principal Investigator Ibrahim Abubakar as he opened the fourth ENDVOC General Assembly. The three-day meeting, held at the brand new UCL East campus in London, was the perfect opportunity to boost collaborations between the different consortium partners to achieve this.

A living database of 37 cohorts

The meeting began with a presentation of ongoing and planned studies in the various cohorts across the world. Results on vaccine effectiveness, immunity, genomic surveillance and/or Long Covid in Nigeria, India, Brazil, Mozambique, Philippines, Barcelona, Pakistan and Palestine were discussed.

Work Package (WP) 2 has led – and almost completed – the extremely challenging task of collating and harmonising the data from these different cohorts, and creating a living database of available information from each of them. In total, 37 cohorts from around the world are included in the database – eight in Africa, nine in Asia, 14 in Europe and one in South America. All this data can now start to be analysed, with the help of WP2, to identify causes, predict outcomes, and make new discoveries.

New insights into viral evolution, immunity and Long Covid

Meanwhile, the other WPs have already produced a number of results. For example, although no new variants of concern have emerged since the project began (all current variants belong to the Omicron family), WP3 and WP4 have contributed with new insights into the emergence of certain subvariants such as BA.2.86 (Pirola) and, in collaboration with WP5 (immunity), their ability to evade – or not – antibodies and T cell immunity. WP6 (treatment) is developing a web-based tool to predict health outcomes for COVID patients, as well as a clinical protocol platform that could be adapted for future infectious disease outbreaks. As part of a co-production process with patients, carers and policy makers, WP7 (Long Covid) has provided evidence for a differential antibody response to infection (but not vaccination) in Long Covid patients and a different risk depending on the infecting variant. WP7 is also working with the different cohorts to compare symptoms, risk and burden of post-acute infection symptoms at an international scale and under the larger lens of post-viral syndromes. The new consortium partner from IMM, Portugal, presented their plans focusing on immunocompromised patients.

Finally, WP8 has analysed the regulatory regimes that underpin pandemic preparedness and response, including evaluation and approval of medical products, research and development, and the legal enforcement of regulations in three countries (Brazil, Nigeria and Italy).

Much progress, much to do

Members of the Independent Advisory Board congratulated the consortium for the great progress made since last year’s General Assembly in Barcelona, but urged it to redouble its efforts on cross-cohort analysis, particularly on immunity and Long Covid. “The ability to pool data from so many different cohorts is the consortium’s greatest strength and a way to ensure its contribution to better pandemic preparedness in the future,” they said.