ECCMID is probably the biggest microbiology and ID conference in the world, attracting over 12000 delegates, and is being held this year in Paris, in six weeks time.
ECCMID seems like the ideal forum to discuss COVID19, bringing together a lot of the world’s experts, and may even lead to breakthroughs or at the very least, research collaborations on how to answer questions regarding the infection.
The only problem is that you are going to have 12000 people from all over the world meeting in the one place! This is hardly conducive to minimising the risk of coronavirus transmission, with a potential risk to both the attending delegates and also to the areas they will return to.
As of today, there have been 285 confirmed cases of coronavirus in France, the numbers having climbed significantly in the past few days. The French government have banned all public gatherings of more than 5000 people in closed spaces. However it is not known whether ECCMID will be an exception to this ruling.
The ECCMID organisers have been conspicuously quiet with regards to whether the ECCMID conference will go ahead this year. This conference is now big business, with a huge exhibition hall and representation from hundreds of infection related industries from around the world. Furthermore, thousands of delegates have booked travel and accommodation for a week in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, many of whom will be enjoying their yearly junket!
There are an awful lot of people with a vested interest in seeing this conference go ahead…
Personally (and purely by chance) I am not planning to go to ECCMID this year, but I look on with considerable interest at whether this mega-conference goes ahead, and if it does, how will the organisers justify this decision in the current environment?