Since its emergence in 2019, SARS-CoV-2 has been a ‘moving target’, with various virus variants emerging across the world. VERDI’s ambition is to enhance the understanding of the epidemiology, outcomes, prevention and treatment of variants of SARS-CoV-2 amongst children and pregnant women as a global response to the pandemic. To date several have been designated ‘variants of concern’ (VoC) due to their potential effects on transmissibility, clinical severity and countermeasures (diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines). New SARS-CoV-2 variants will almost certainly continue to emerge, even as effective vaccines increase population immunity.

What is VERDI?

SARS-CoV2 variants Evaluation in pRegnancy and paeDIatrics cohorts

VERDI is a project aiming to describe the impact of variants of concern and the role of children in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, in their homes and schools, how the infection impacts clinical disease in children and adverse pregnancy outcomes, and treatment. The project will also investigate vaccine strategies in children and pregnant women on disease and transmission in the face of new VoC. This evidence will allow us to rapidly deliver recommendations on the best strategies to control viral spread in paediatric populations, as well as on optimized clinical management and treatment of COVID-19 children and pregnant women.

Why is VERDI needed?

The WHO has identified children and pregnant women as potentially vulnerable populations for SARS-CoV-2. However, to date, they have remained a low priority for research on COVID-19, as well as treatment and vaccination, for example with paediatric and pregnancy vaccine trials slow to start and report. As the pandemic matures and the virus has evolved, the increased transmissibility and pathogenicity of some newly emerging variants require a better assessment of the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on children and pregnant women. Given the lack of vaccine coverage (and future low global coverage once vaccines are licensed for paediatric use), children represent a population in which circulating virus will facilitate selection of vaccine-resistant mutations. In other words, they represent both a potential source of VoC, as well as suffering their consequences. This provides the overarching scientific rationale of VERDI.

What is VERDI’s goal?

VERDI’s objectives are to track and characterise variants of concern in paediatric and pregnant populations across the globe and to understand effects of variants of concern on clinical outcomes (short/longer term), vaccine effectiveness and transmission characteristics. VERDI will develop evidence-based recommendations for the control of COVID-19.

Visit the VERDI project webpage.

The VERDI project (101045989) is funded by the European Union.