In early December 2020, Work package 7 (WP7) of the SHARP joint action held an online workshop on laboratory preparedness and responsiveness involving nearly all partners of the laboratory network focusing on highly pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
The workshop that was initially meant to take place in Prague as a 2-day-conference, provided time for working groups and their leaders to give an update on the progress they have made and any completed actions or activities. In total, nearly 70 participants from 33 partner laboratories in 22 European countries took part in the workshop. This included representation from the CHAFEA Health Unit and the European Commission.
Lively discussions and useful knowledge
During the event, the importance of WP7 for SHARP and for laboratories in general was agreed upon, with WP7 deliverables offering benefits to laboratories across borders. There was consensus that accredited laboratories need External Quality Assurance Exercises (EQAEs) to maintain accreditation, and partners sharing information on new identification methods and experiences is of great value to all.
In addition to the presentations on group progress, there was also lively discussion around the contribution of the joint action, and WP7 more specifically, to the COVID-19 effort.
Workshop Chair-person Roland Grunow, WP7 lead (RKI) said;
“In the current pandemic situation, most of our partner laboratories are heavily involved in the diagnostics and research of COVID-19. The SHARP laboratory network is interacting with other relevant networks like EVD-LabNet to ensure a coordinated and effective laboratory response on the European level.
“Despite this additional workload, we were able to achieve good progress with some major tasks of WP7, including the planned EQAEs and diagnostic approaches for the previously defined target bacteria and viruses.
“Other activities like training and improvements regarding laboratory biorisk management had to be postponed. However, we will do our best to fulfil all planned tasks until the end of the Joint Action.”
Work package 7 works towards strengthening laboratory preparedness and responsiveness in detecting highly pathogenic infectious agents of Risk Group 3 (RG3) bacteria / Risk Group 4 (RG4) viruses with quality assured methods in laboratories of MS and SHARP JA partner countries.
You can read more about the objectives, deliverable and milestone of WP7 here: https://www.sharpja.eu/about-us/work-packages/#WP7
We are now 18 months into the joint action and while Covid-19 has taken up much of the time of the participating institutions, progress is still being made in many fronts, with WP7 exemplifying the way in which our work has been able to adapt to the situation and in many ways support the ongoing response.