VERDI project launches


Today we launch VERDI, a project that prioritizes women and children in the research on new coronavirus variants

The University of Padua and Penta Foundation are leaders of VERDI, a new European research consortium on coronavirus in children and pregnant women. Carlo Giaquinto, Professor at University of Padova and President of Penta, together with Professor Ali Judd at University College London, will be the scientific coordinators of VERDI.


Padova, Italy – 15 November 2021

Children and pregnant women have taken a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic. With children most likely to be the last to be vaccinated and pregnant women often advised against the vaccine, they risk becoming a population at high risk of developing new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In fact, children have generally been developing the disease in a mild and asymptomatic form, and pregnant women rarely transmit the virus to the fetus. With the emergence of coronavirus variants, however, the potential impact of the infection on this population and its role in the transmission of the virus (e.g. in the family, at school and/or other life contexts) is unknown.

The research on COVID-19 in children started very late, due to the false belief that children were not affected and not important for understanding the dynamics of the pandemic”, stated Carlo Giaquinto, Professor at the University of Padua and President of the Penta Foundation. “It is extremely important that we eventually recognize the key role that children and adolescents play in the epidemic and the natural history of childhood infection, with particular reference to the long-term consequences of the infection.

VERDI (SARS-CoV-2 variants Evaluation in pRegnancy and paeDIatrics cohorts), funded by the European Commission with a contribution of 10 million euros, devotes an international and collaborative effort to analyse the impact of new variants in these vulnerable populations.

The research group, made up of 22 centers of excellence in Europe, USA, South Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, coordinated by the University of Padua and Penta Foundation (Italy), will study the mechanisms of development and diffusion of coronavirus variants as well as their impact on health. It will thus provide useful information for the control of this infection in the various geographical contexts and the improvement of vaccination strategies.

The consortium will share data on coronavirus variants from patient medical records, cohort studies, home transmission studies and screening programs, which will be analyzed in a harmonized manner across the research centers. The monitoring of this population remains a fundamental action to tackle the coronavirus and control the spread of variants, especially in a rapidly evolving epidemiological context due to the increase in vaccination activity as well as the variants.

The University of Padua and its partners bring to the VERDI project an extraordinary ability to collect and analyse epidemiological data. VERDI Consortium will collaborate with other European research infrastructures (ORCHESTRA, RECOVER, RECODID and ECRAID) to ensure full circulation of research results and their immediate application to treatment and prevention strategies at global level” announced Prof. Carlo Giaquinto.

The results of this collaborative research will serve to find ourselves less unprepared for future health emergencies.


Notes for Editors

The VERDI project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the VERDI Consortium only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Health and Digital Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Horizon Europe | European Commission ( 


About the Department of Woman and Child’s Health – University of Padua

Since its foundation, the Department of Woman and Child’s Health at the University of Padua has been dedicated to the care of women, infants, children and young people, bringing together health care and research skills that have allowed it to become today a reality of excellence at national and international level.

The mission of the Department is to deliver the best academic, clinical and surgical program at the national and international level. This is the essential core that gives motivation to a team of professionals and operators determined to work in an integrated and multidisciplinary way, in order to achieve effective results on patients and ensure a positive experience for those who are facing their own or their child’s disease. A mission that focuses on the value of human relationships and expresses a sense of common good.


About Penta

Penta is an international independent scientific network dedicated to child health.

Through our studies, training programmes and collaborations in the area of paediatric infectious disease, we want to improve the lives of women and children, wherever they live.

Penta was born in 1991 with the aim of undertaking independent clinical trials on antiretroviral therapies for children with HIV. To-date, the Penta portfolio of studies includes other paediatric infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, fungal diseases, sepsis as well as infections in pregnancy and emerging or neglected childhood infections. Our work is the result of collaborations between medical professionals and researchers in more than 110 centres in 31 countries around the world.

For further information on VERDI

Francesca Mazzetto – Head of Penta Communication office


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