Almost two years later is one of the most debated topics in the Media, worldwide. The global task force to fight COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) propagation, in fact, is proving more complicated than expected despite the evolution of scientific research and the growing number of vaccinated populations. The current pandemic disruptive impact pushed us to reconsider healthcare treatments and approaches, giving even more importance to the diagnosis which must be faster, more accurate and implemented on a large-scale to face any kind of hazardous viral transmission. To achieve this, we need vision and detailed targets.
‘Promises and Challenges’, these were the key words on which the COVID-19 Diagnostic Conference held in Monaco on the 2nd and 3rd December 2021 within the Monaco Broadcast Studios. The event, under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Fondation Merieux and the Princely Government of Monaco, was largely online to easily reach international researchers, corporate and governmental institutions. The meeting was conceived by the Global Virus Network, a science-driven coalition of well-known virologists representing sixty-five Centers of Excellence together with eleven affiliates settled in thirty-five Countries.
The main mission of this two-day symposium gathering academia and industry scientists was to be laying the foundations for new medical collaborations in order to combine all efforts. Also to share the most advanced technologies to cure current health emergencies and prevent potential future new epidemics that could affect our Planet Earth, with devastating effects on under-developed or developing countries. The latest spread of Covid-19 variation Omicron shows that attention should be kept high and there is still much to be done in terms of surveillance, investigation, testing and response plan.
«The Principality of Monaco and I have been doing a lot to host this Conference on such an important topic, an issue that you know more for all the crucial outcomes and consequences. I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to Prof. Bréchot and to the Global Virus Network for their precious collaboration in this meeting development» highlighted H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco in His keynote speech by adding: «The Covid-19 pandemic is an illustration of the equilibrium between Humans and Our Environment because of the reciprocal impact which links these two worlds and the way We, Humans, deal with it in view of potential future increasingly recurrent crisis. I have been impressed how rapidly this health crises spread to every Country and, unfortunately, there are not economic barrier nor magical treatments to stop it. The answer must be collective including any single actor to face a crisis which can be also an opportunity to open up a stronger synchronized network. Consequently, we do believe in this symposium grounded on the contribution of international experts who can help us to better address this emergency. We are looking for solutions and strategies but the very first step is the identification of the virus. We cannot fight what we cannot see! This is exactly the objective of this workshop. Can we expand our vision? Can we test more people accurately with non-invasive tests that even Countries with low-income can afford? In this era of vaccination we are boosting inclusiveness even more. The tight collaboration between the Global Virus Network and Monaco Scientific Centre (new official partner) and my Government has enabled to provide valuable information for citizens about the actual level of protection for severe forms of Covid-19. So, we are pushing all categories of population to be vaccinated, especially those who suffer from a fragile immune system. This national program will have significant success provided that citizens are properly informed for a better understanding. I wish then that today’s contribution represents a step forward to the successful fighting against this pandemic and enlarge the awareness on the global approach for future threats».
But what was the spirit that animated the scientific committee present to the event? HelloMonaco collected some relevant feedbacks.
Alain Mérieux, (A.M.) President of the Mérieux Foundation.
HelloMonaco: Mr. Mérieux, can you tell us what motivates you in your long-lasting research activity?
A.M.: I have been spending all my life in studying contagious diseases as well as human and veterinarian treatment for a long time. My ancestors did the same starting from my grandfather who worked with Louis Pasteur. Now, I have been totally engaged in my Foundation for the last fifteen years with my son who is a doctor. The idea led to build advanced laboratories for diagnosis of the most serious pathologies in about fifteen hot-spot areas around the world. I started being very cautious about the dangers of viruses since the HIV spread out followed by other ones.
HelloMonaco: What makes Covid-19 spread so quickly?
A.M.: It is a very smart virus, maybe too intelligent for us! Its great diffusion is the result of various aspects. Demographic increase is in pole position, considering the eight billion human beings living on this Planet where globalization made it very easy to connect to each other. This caused some side effects like legal and illegal migrations as well as the increase of less-livable areas with inconsistent health care and high percentages of violence and social insecurity. The excessive urbanization, moreover, which is leading to the constant destruction of entire natural ecosystems through massive deforestation. According to a recent study, about 1 million-seven thousand unknown pathogens are hidden in the wild nature; one third of which may be potentially harmful to human beings. New pandemics then are widely predictable. We need to work more and more tightly on collecting scientific data and collaborating in solidarity to invest in our future.
Prof. Christian Bréchot (C.B.), MD, PhD, President of the GVN.
HelloMonaco: Professor Bréchot, what inspired this international meeting?
C.B.: In this historical moment we need synergies between medical experts. What has been done so far is not enough. To contain the effects of this pandemic, different approaches must be followed. Protective devices and social distance joint to vaccination helps incredibly to stop serious forms but also the diagnostic phase is crucial to predict human body reactions. This conference presented a set of existing technologies that could be used for this purpose. The fact is that the virus circulation is not finished and there will be new variants as long as it will circulate. This is therefore a first but fundamental step.
Professor Dr. Patrick Rampal (P.R.), President of the Scientific Centre of Monaco.
HelloMonaco: Professor Rampal, what role the Principality of Monaco plays in encouraging new effective approaches to defeat Covid-19?
P.R.: Since the starting of the pandemic, the Principality adopted impactful policies to allow residents and citizens to count on a high degree of protection from the virus. A well-equipped coronavirus testing centre was inaugurated at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco. More than one hundred thousand PCR tests had been carried, quite significant comparing to Monaco’s territory and vicinity. Besides that, the treatment of infected patients was also very effective to prevent a higher spread of the virus. Now, we are focused on detecting the predisposition of the population to be involved in new viral waves. We are selecting then a list of neutralizing antibodies which protect the individual from the most serious forms.
For further information about Global Virus Network & Monaco please visit: www.covid19-promises.com/en/