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Within PHIRI, the Population Health Information Research Infrastructure, a Rapid Exchange Forum (REF) is organized regularly every two weeks or as needed, addressing urgent questions and current developments in population health during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. In this one hour meeting, the participants belonging to European public health institutes, Ministries of Health, research institutions and universities as well as EU-level stakeholders answer questions and discuss experiences from their own countries related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other population health issues that require rapid responses. Each meeting is organized around a topic or set of topics of timely relevance to the participating countries, and answers to the questions are shared during the meeting as well as in writing immediately before or after the meetings. This allows a rapid exchange of information across countries to learn from each other’s challenges and best practices, and compare e.g. vaccination-, testing-, and communication strategies, reactions to new virus variants, mortality indicators, long-term pandemic monitoring and surveillance, and impact evaluations of the pandemic. The answers to questions discussed during the REF meetings are uploaded to the Health Information Portal at the latest by the end of the week in which each meeting takes place.

Please use the search function below to browse the content of previous REF meetings. In order to search for an exact phrase, you can utilize quotation marks around your search term.

Title Question Date Document(s)
61st Rapid Exchange Forum: Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and hospitalisation rate in children

Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and hospitalisation rate in children

Rapid Exchange Forum ad-hoc question (Austria): Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in Europe

Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in Europe

Currently there is a systematic review conducted on the prevalence of 4 sexually transmitted infections in Europe: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis. We are conducting extensive literature searches in bibliographic databases but are also interested in grey literature. We would be very grateful if you could:

  • indicate to us any reports on the prevalence of any of the 4 STIs in your country, published/conducted within the last 10 years, that has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal
  • and/or forward our request to experts in the field in your country!

(The focus of this request is on grey literature, but please don’t hesitate to also indicate relevant peer-reviewed literature, especially recent publications.)

Please note that for this review we are not interested in incidence estimates derived from routine surveillance (i.e., number of case notifications per national/regional population), but only in prevalence estimates derived from a study where the total population of tested individuals is known and described.

59th Rapid Exchange Forum: Covid-19 combined vaccination

Covid-19 combined vaccination

In countries where Covid-19 is vaccinated combined with another immunization, e.g. against influenza, was there a (remarkable) increase of Covid-19 vaccinations? What could have caused this increase, what are the possible reasons? Are there any learnings with such a system? Please share your experiences.

58th Rapid Exchange Forum: Covid-19 measures – Update per October 2023

Covid-19 measures – Update per October 2023

The following Y/N questions, asked in a live poll during the meeting, are intended to be displayed on the Health Information Portal:

A. Vaccination

1. Is Covid-19 vaccination for free in your country?

2. Is a booster vaccination free in your country?

3. Is Covid-19 vaccination or booster available in pharmacies?

4. Do you have a vaccination strategy / recommendation for children below 12 years?

B. Surveillance

5. Is there a Long-Covid strategy in place in your country?

6. Does your country have a registry on Long-Covid patients?

7. Is there a wastewater monitoring in your country or at least regionally?

8. Is there a national Covid-19 dashboard that is currently being serviced?

C. Measures

9. Are there actually any measures or restrictions in place?

10. Is self-testing for free in your country?

11. Is it possible to book a test-slot for free in your country?

12. Is it possible to book a test-slot against payment in your country?

13. Is it mandatory to wear face masks in hospital settings?

14. Is an evaluation of the pandemic measures in your country planned or already ongoing?

15. Can the pandemic response team be reactivated any time quickly (within 2 days)?

Rapid Exchange Forum - Special Edition 6th

Harmonising advances in Long COVID research: Uniting European actors for solutions

56th Rapid Exchange Forum: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) on Health Data Processing

Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) on Health Data Processing

  • Are there any best practices or specific limitations? 
  • Are there efforts for more coherent ELSI principles?
  • Which enablers or which barriers do you experience?
  • Current changes in legislation (e.g. in light of upcoming EHDS regulation)?
55th Rapid Exchange Forum: New Covid-19 variants

New Covid-19 variants

  • How are MoH preparing for the next winter? Are there any specific plans or are you aware of any ongoing planning with regard to the new Covid-19 strains BA 2.86 (Pirola) and EG 5 (Eris)?
  • To what extent are MoHs using lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic? Please give examples.
54th Rapid Exchange Forum: Biosimilar medicines

Biosimilar medicines

  • Interchangeability: Does your country have a legal arrangement in place such that once a biosimilar is approved in the EU (or through some other mechanism) it is interchangeable, which means the biosimilar can be used instead of its reference product (or vice versa) or one biosimilar can be replaced with another biosimilar of the same reference product? If so, please briefly describe the arrangement?
  • Substitution at point of issuing medicine: Can a pharmacist / dispenser substitute biological medicines with biosimilars at the point of dispensing (e.g., at a pharmacy/hospital)?
    • If so, is it a requirement of State-funded schemes / social health insurance reimbursement to substitute with the available medicine of lowest costs or medicines within a lower cost bracket? (i.e., only reimburse the preferred biosimilar)
    • If so, does the pharmacist/dispenser receive training or specific payment from the Government or insurer?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Has the above approach encountered criticism in your country?
  • Influencing clinical prescribing of biosimilar medicines: How is this done (e.g., incentives as in Best Value Biologics Programme (BvB), described below)?
  • Broad process of choosing preferred biosimilars: What is the overall process to determine preferred biosimilars for prescribing over their reference biological medicine? For instance, what broad criteria are used, and what organisation has responsibility for this?
  • Response to the EMA September statement: Following the September statement from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (presented below) on the interchangeability of biosimilars, is your country planning any changes to increase biosimilar penetration/uptake?
Rapid Exchange Forum ad-hoc question (Ireland): National reviews/inquiries of the Covid-19 response

National Reviews/Inquiries of the COVID-19 Response

  • Has a Review of the Response to Covid-19 been undertaken or is currently underway in your country? If so, please provide the title of the Review.
  • What areas / topics are covered by the Review?
  • How is the Review structured / undertaken?
  • What type of Review was undertaken and what type of organisation undertook the Review?
  • Are the Terms of Reference for the Review publicly available? If so, please provide a link to the Terms of Reference.
  • Was the Review made publicly available? If so, please provide a link to the publication
53rd Rapid Exchange Forum: National action plan on postviral / postinfectious syndromes

National action plan on postviral / postinfectious syndromes

Does your country have a national action plan or similar strategic policy papers regarding postviral / postinfectious syndromes (in general or associated with specific pathogens, e.g. Long COVID)? We are interested in documents that cover aspects such as care pathways, healthcare planning and financing, data collection and registries, research, awareness raising and others. Please provide links to the relevant documents or websites?