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European project ORCHESTRA continues to shape the future of pandemic research after 3-year journey

The European project ORCHESTRA (Connecting European Cohorts to Increase Common and Effective Response to SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic) started in December 2020, pooling European knowledge and resources to seek medical solutions to the most critical challenges posed by the pandemic. Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, ORCHESTRA has evolved into a robust multinational network, led by University of Verona with 37 partners from 15 countries collaborating closely. Last week’s annual partner meeting reaffirmed the profound impact of collective endeavours, with a review of its accomplishments and prospects in a collaborative meeting that highlighted the dedication of its participants.

Over the past three years, ORCHESTRA has made significant progress, with 85 studies submitted, 66 deliverables completed, and 81 milestones achieved. Additionally, nearly 20 abstracts were accepted for presentation last year.

Prof. Evelina Tacconelli, leader of the ORCHESTRA project, emphasised the importance of data harmonisation in overcoming challenges across participating countries.

ORCHESTRA's ability to bring together different cohorts for meta-analysis has proven invaluable, offering a wide range of insights beyond individual cohort capabilities.

ORCHESTRA's research has focused on different levels, conducting studies within fragile populations and healthcare worker cohorts, providing valuable insights into public health measures and their impact. The project also delves into the long-term sequelae of COVID-19, specifically regarding the systematic review of risks associated with long COVID. Recent work, published in a clinical magazine, identified four distinct clusters within post-COVID-19 syndrome, each affecting quality of life differently. This achievement reflects the collaborative efforts within ORCHESTRA and its role in advancing pandemic research.

The project is now entering a new extension phase, characterised by enhanced partnerships and an abundance of available data. New objectives include an analysis of the quality and kinetics of long-term immune responses to COVID-19 vaccination in fragile patients, which holds promise for optimising vaccination strategies. The project also commits to refining the definition of severe long COVID, extending follow-up periods, and further improving the classification of post-COVID-19 syndrome. Additional deliverables encompass an examination of long-term psychological consequences related to COVID-19 and comprehensive analyses of breakthrough infections and serological responses in healthcare workers, all contributing to a better understanding of the pandemic's enduring impact.

During this extended phase, ORCHESTRA will maintain its data infrastructure and intensify efforts in data harmonisation, collection, extraction, and analysis.

As ORCHESTRA continues its research and collaborates with diverse cohorts, its mission to inform policy decisions and enhance the lives of individuals affected by COVID-19 remains evident.

The ORCHESTRA project, coordinated by Prof. Tacconelli and the ID-CARE team at the University of Verona, is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and started on December 2020 with the aim of tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

The project involves 37 partners from 15 countries, establishing an international large-scale-cohort to generate rigorous evidence in the field of prevention and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The identification of clinical and laboratory predictors to reduce severity and hospitalisation of COVID-19 and to prevent long COVID are among the main objectives of the project. Find out more:


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