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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.

Topic Question Date Document(s)
37th Rapid Exchange Forum: National public vaccination plans

National public vaccination plans

  • Do you have a publicly funded plan with recommended vaccinations (for everyone or only for kids)? If yes, please provide the link if it is published.
  • In the light of Chickenpox and Diphtheria, are there any plans to update publicly funded vaccination plan? For which disease(s) and for which age-cohort?
  • If not, when did the last update take place in regard to which disease or booster jab?
35th Rapid Exchange Forum: COVID-19 mortality

COVID-19 mortality

  • How long does the entire process take to obtain ICD-10 coding of causes of death from death certificates?
  • Do you already have access to information (complete or partial) on COVID-19 as cause of death from death certificates? Have the death certificates now been integrated in the COVID-19 mortality statistics?
  • Are death certificates completed by the physician in electronic or paper format? If completed electronically, what location of death do they cover (ex. hospital only?) and what is the coverage in relation to all deaths?
  • Are there any COVID-19 mortality reports you can share, or reports of excess mortality during the COVID-19 crisis?
34th Rapid Exchange Forum: Communication Stratgegies

​​​​​​Communication strategies

  • What communication channels are currently used by official sources in your country to disseminate COVID-19 information / which is the most common tool?
  • In your opinion, which communication channels/tools are working best to reach the people in your country at this stage of the pandemic? Have there been any (recent) adaptations to your country's national communication strategies with respect to countering pandemic fatigue and improving effectiveness of communication?
33rd Rapid Exchange Forum: COVID-19 pandemic evaluation

COVID-19 pandemic evaluation

  • Have any data analyses or studies been published in your country yet (on national level, or comparing several countries) that investigate direct and indirect health impacts of the pandemic (including indicators such as excess mortality, burden of disease, diminished mental health and well-being, diminished physical activity, loneliness, years of life lost, DALYs/QALYs etc.)?
  • Other than already published works, is there data analysis currently ongoing or in preparation in your country that investigates direct and indirect health impacts of the pandemic? If so, which indicators are mainly being investigated in this scope?
32nd Rapid Exchange Forum: Strategies for winter 2022 and BA.2 subvariant

Strategies for winter 2022 and BA.2

  • Is your country taking actions at the moment (or are there plans in place) to anticipate/mitigate a potential spike in COVID-19 infections in autumn/winter 2022? Have any strategies to this effect been developed  based on lessons learned in the previous two years?
  • Have plans and strategies changed in your country since emergence of the BA.2 subvariant? If so, how? Are there any recommendations you would like to share with other countries in this scope?
4th Special Edition Rapid Exchange Forum

Concurrent with the 32nd Rapid Exchange Forum, the fourth Special Edition REF took place. To avoid duplication of work, we believe it is highly relevant to be aware of other international activities, mechanisms and expert groups already in place, or established during the pancemic, which exchange information on population health developments that require rapid action. 

To shed light on such activities, REF Special Editions invite key guests from relevant international organisations to report on their main activities, boards/expert groups, and different COVID-19 actions. 

The guest speakers for the fourth Special Edition REF were:

  • European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) - Christian Wimmer
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) – Marie Heloury & Ettore Severi
  • European Commission, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) – Federico Pratellesi
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – Gaetan Lafortune
  • European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (OBS) - Matthias Wismar
31st Rapid Exchange Forum: Health screening for refugees from Ukraine

Health screening for refugees from Ukraine

  • Is there any health screening protocol that is being put in place for arriving refugees from Ukraine in your country at the moment (concerning COVID-19 and/or other screenings)?
  • COVID-19 certificates from Ukraine have been established as equivalent to EU certificates in the Commission Implementing Decision 2021/1380. Are there mandatory stipulations for entry of refugees arriving to your country from Ukraine when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination status, and/or is there a non-mandatory vaccination offer for arriving refugees?
  • Are (and if so how are) additional vaccinations and vaccination history recorded for refugees from Ukraine in your country?
30th Rapid Exchange Forum: Long-term surveillance strategies

Long-term pandemic monitoring and surveillance

  • Was the 'state-of-emergency' activated in your country when the pandemic hit, or other emergency legislation set in place in order to set up a COVID-19 monitoring and surveillance system, including regulations for data access and linkage of data sources? Did your constitution already include such mechanisms before COVID-19?
  • As a state of emergency or emergency decrees are temporary, what will happen to your COVID-19 monitoring mechanism in the long run? Has a long-term strategy been developed to ensure the continuity of surveillance of COVID-19 and research?
29th Rapid Exchange Forum: Long COVID management

Long COVID management

Are there existing or planned processes for coordinated management of care for long COVID patients in your country?

If yes, please describe/share:

  • tools for (differential) diagnosis / symptom screening for clinicians?
  • standardised treatment pathways for long COVID patients?
  • patient information material about long COVID?
  • registries of long COVID patients?
28th Rapid Exchange Forum: Green pass updates

Overview of current national / international duration of “vaccination passes” / “recovered passes”

1. What is the duration of your digital certificates / vaccination passes on a national or international level (in case there is a difference)?

2. Please explain:

  • if there is any difference between the vaccine given (i.e. AZ/ Pfizer/ Moderna/ J&J/ other)?
  • if there is any difference when persons are boostered or not?