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ECRAID-Prime GA 2024: A step forward in pandemic and epidemic adaptive trials in primary care

The ECRAID-Prime consortium convened in Budapest, Hungary for its annual General Assembly to discuss the project’s ongoing activities to launch Europe’s first adaptive platform trial to combat COVID-19 and COVID-like illness in the community.


Held on 27 May 2024, the yearly meeting was led by Principal Investigator Chris Butler, and brought together 20 consortium members from across Europe to provide an update on their activities and discuss their successes, challenges and learning.

“The assembly provided an invaluable opportunity for the teams to meet in person, strengthen relationships and foster a collaborative spirit," remarked Chris, as most of the members knew one other through the project's regular online meetings, but not everyone had met in person.

“The pandemic taught us that human interaction and contact are among the most precious things we've got. Having everybody together, interacting face-to-face, was a real pleasure. Because it was quite small, we were able to be less formal and interact spontaneously. We felt free to talk, reflect, plan, and be honest about where we could have done things better."
- Chris Butler
ECRAID-Prime GA 2024 - photo collage
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Overcoming hurdles

A particular focus of the meeting was the hurdles towards obtaining regulatory approval in seven countries. This is a crucial step towards setting up the first interventions in the adaptive platform trial, which will contribute to improving the evidence base for treating acute respiratory infections in the community and be a crucial resource in Europe’s pandemic preparedness. 

Reflecting on the journey of ECRAID-Prime, Chris highlighted the evolving nature of the work. "We wrote this grant in the middle of the pandemic, in a world that is completely different from the one we inhabit now. We made perfectly reasonable plans that were fit for that time. Now, we face all kinds of new problems and different landscapes, so we have to adjust."

This was further discussed by Trial Lead Alike van der Velden during her presentation. She elaborated on the project’s first two years, discussed the challenges and difficulties faced along the way, and highlighted solutions and contingency plans. She expressed pride in the team’s collaborative spirit, particularly in manoeuvring the trial into the current world context.


“We have an incredible team. Right from the start, we were all motivated and dedicated for a sprint to get ECRAID-Prime up and running, begin patient recruitment, and deliver the platform trial. Together, I am confident we can overcome any challenges and succeed in our mission.” 
- Alike van der Velden

Trial approval received for Belgium and Germany

Despite the challenges, the team has made good progress, shared Chris.

"We're not as far ahead as we would have liked in terms of participant recruitment, but we heard in the meeting about our latest milestones. We have just received full regulatory approvals to open ECRAID-Prime in Belgium and Germany, and hearing that excitement brought us together as a group. It was a group effort and that was fantastic. We’re looking forward to receiving more approvals in the countries, so we can begin our trial in all seven countries, with hopefully more to come."

As the assembly came to a close, the team looked forward with renewed energy and optimism. "After years of hard work and administrative work, we're now moving into a more action-oriented phase: recruitment and implementation. This brings its own challenges, but also lots of excitement," Chris concluded.