On the 29th of June 2022, the consortium that leads the RBDCOV project met at the HIPRA premises, in Amer, Spain. Representatives from 13 different organisations from Italy, Spain, the UK, Germany and Turkey gathered to discuss and exchange on the latest developments of the project. EATG had the pleasure to be present and to contribute to the enriching conversations that took place, a much anticipated face-to-face meeting after 7 months of remote working that concluded with positive remarks and a lot of progress. Our colleagues even had the chance to visit the HIPRA laboratories and production sites, in order to get a hands-on experience.
As you know, the RBDCOV project aims to test the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of the HIPRA’s recombinant COVID-19 vaccine on children, adolescents and immunosuppressed individuals, a community that has been overlooked so far from vaccine studies. That is why the presence of our organisation is so important: we want to make sure that the underrepresented people of our community are properly represented and that our insights and expertise are being taken into account.
But after all these months of intense work, what progress was made? The RBDCOV project was conceived to run two different clinical trials to test its vaccine with different target groups: people with compromised immune systems & children and adolescents. On 9 May, the AEMPS (Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products) authorised the launch of the phase III clinical trial of the vaccine in immunocompromised individuals. This trial aims to discover if, with an additional dose of HIPRA’s COVID-19 vaccine, people living with HIV with a CD4 count below 400 as well as people with other immune system conditions, can generate an immune response. The phase IIb of the clinical trial on children and adolescents is currently on hold, whilst amendments are being made due to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation.
During the General Assembly, our team stressed the importance of working in close collaboration with all the partners throughout all the working packages and phases of this project. Although EATG contributes to 5 different work packages, we are mainly active in those related to the clinical trials and communication and dissemination, where we regularly provide feedback and input in order to make sure that the community perspective is included.
Moreover, EATG leads the work on community engagement. Together with the help of the CAP (Community Advisory Panel) comprised of EATG members and created at the beginning of the project, we are committed to: promote and ensure the engagement and feedback of participants of the different clinical trials, ensure that the protocol is built taking participants’ needs and preferences into account, assess their expectations and concerns and finally guarantee that the information and communication around the clinical trial is accessible, complete, transparent and comprehensible.
We were happy to share with the other members of the consortium an update on the work of the CAP, composed of 8 members from 8 different countries. These selected participants represent EATG and the HIV community and have a background in research and development. The EATG team is in charge of keeping the members of our community engaged and coordinate the flow of information, as well as organising monthly progress calls in order to gather their feedback on several topics, including communication around the project.
As representatives of our community, we want our voice heard and incorporated. That is why our input on community engagement is key in order to shape the future of this project. In this regard, the CAP and EATG will be working on providing specific feedback for the website, the creation of a project glossary, and on making sure that the project uses appropriate terminology to reflect the community’s perspective throughout all its materials, documents and resources.
Finally, we were impressed by all the progress that the project has made in its several areas and by how, despite remote working, our colleagues from different nationalities and cultures, managed to work closely together. We are looking forward to our next face-to-face meeting and to be sharing with you the future updates of the RBDCOV project.
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