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ZIKAction – finding answers, preparing for the future

The international ZIKAction consortium has been established in South and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe with the complementary goals of

    1. developing a multidisciplinary multinational ready-to-act network capable of rapidly addressing any maternal and paediatric health research need arising from the ongoing Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak and
    2. conducting an interdisciplinary programme of research studies within this network to address key knowledge gaps relating to ZIKV epidemiology, natural history and pathogenesis, with a particular emphasis on maternal and child health.

We propose an integrated programme of epidemiological, clinical and pathobiological research studies to examine the strength and nature of the association between maternal ZIKV infection in pregnancy and adverse maternal and fetal outcomes, to elucidate the timing and mechanisms of vertical transmission of ZIKV and to investigate burden and natural history of congenital and acquired paediatric ZIKV infection.

Novel diagnostic methodologies will be developed and validated within the network, including clinical algorithms optimised for rapid diagnosis of ZIKV in pregnant women, infants and children, supported by cohort study data.

We will create a flexible infrastructure facilitating close linkages between the research programme, international and national public health organizations and other key stakeholders in the response to the ZIKV epidemic, with the capacity to embed new studies. We have leveraged this flexibility in creating shared work packages for close collaboration with other EU-funded ZIKV projects including shared governance structures and ethics and regulatory oversight, integrated communications, harmonized clinical protocols and case definitions, internal data sharing mechanisms and a roadmap towards expanding data sharing, as well as a shared Latin American emerging infectious disease preparedness and response network.