PREPARE continues active measures as coronavirus outbreak in Italy unfolds

Herman Goossens (UAntwerp) closely follows events surrounding coronavirus

Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infected patients have been reported in Europe for several weeks now and PREPARE has been monitoring developments very closely. In Italy, cases of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, have risen significantly over the weekend. Italian public health authorities have pressed ahead with measures to contain the spread of infection, including quarantining several towns in Italy’s northern region and suspending major public events. With ongoing clusters in Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan and more recently in Italy, we anticipate further large clusters and possibly community-wide transmission in Europe and therefore are preparing our clinical research response accordingly.

Active preparations

Based on these recent developments, PREPARE will continue its preparations for launching a clinical research response in Europe should this be needed. On 6 February PREPARE announced its mobilisation of the Mode 2 response activity for the actual conduct of clinical research in the event of further SARS-CoV-2 spread in Europe.

Corona and PREPARE

At present, 366 hospitals and 73 paediatric sites from PREPARE partner networks, COMBACTE and Penta, are contributing to the important collective efforts in standardising the information gathered from affected patients. An electronic case report form (eCRF), developed by ISARIC and WHO, has been distributed across these networks so that the same information can be gathered from patients with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2.

We are making active preparations across our primary care and hospital networks to deliver clinical research activities, for example, through ensuring contracts and ethical approvals are in place. PREPARE and COMBACTE continue to make sure that diagnostic laboratories linked with their research networks in 42 European countries are prepared for diagnosing patients with SARS-CoV-2 in the event that a clinical study is rapidly initiated. Further diagnostic preparedness activities are also underway. All activities are aligned with those of national public health agencies, ECDC and WHO regional offices.


“It is more and more likely that the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak will become a pandemic and PREPARE will rapidly raise the response level to Mode 3 if sustained transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is observed in several European countries. We are continuing a coordinated, coherent and united clinical research response,” says Herman Goossens, Professor at the University of Antwerp and Coordinator of PREPARE.