In June, the SHARP JA Partnership Forum met for the second time to discuss the progress of the action. This follows the first Partnership Forum held in Vilnius, Lithuania in July 2019. The original 2-day meeting gathered more than 70 participants from 24 countries. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second forum meeting was held on-line and with 90 participants involved in the virtual session.

Although SHARP Joint Action is now progressing at a slower pace due to the pandemic situation, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that there is clearly a growing need to strengthen preparedness and capacities regarding cross-border health threats in Europe. It has also reinforced the post-action value that the activities executed as part of SHARP will have.

While much of the discussion was dominated by the impact of coronavirus, it was clear that partners were still making progress in their areas and continuing with the important work in relation to their work packages’ objectives.

Speaking at the meeting Brian Doherty, Policy Officer at the European Commission DG SANTE, outlined the important role SHARP would play in the coming years with a particular focus on links to other EU actions and targets; and SHARP’s role in the long-term recovery plan for coronavirus.

Guy Dargent, Senior Scientific Project Officer at Chafea, also highlighted his organisations support for the circumstances under which the Joint Action is taking place. He welcomed applications for grant amendments to support the additional work undertaken by the work packages while continuing with the core objectives of the action.

Work package leads provided updates in their respective areas with many detailing the virtual workshops and forums they had facilitated in the absence of physical meetings. They also discussed the obstacles and opportunities created by this adaptation and what that would mean for future workshops and other events.

As many of the experts involved in the SHARP Joint Action are heavily involved in their national response for the pandemic, SHARP has not proceeded as planned. During the meeting, some partners suggested delays to their deliverables as a direct result of coronavirus and any associated tasks.

Work packages playing a particularly active role in the coronavirus response on behalf of SHARP JA were thanked for their work; this included WP7 and their involvement in the laboratory response and WP10 and their collaboration with DG SANTE to facilitate a questionnaire on Clinical management, Post-exposure prophylaxis and Discharge policy in relation to coronavirus.