zum Inhalt springen

COVIM Network Meeting 2023

Recent Research on Immunity against SARS-CoV-2
Berlin, 5th and 6th June 2023

Monday, 05.06.2023

After more than three years since the beginning of the pandemic, the COVIM consortium met for the first time in presence at the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Stiftung in Berlin on 5-6 June 2023. With over 90 participants from 24 locations (university hospitals as well as RKI, DZNE, DPZ, HZI), the network meeting was very well attended. The focus of the first day was on the results of the first funding period (01.08.2020-31.12.2021) with current insights into still open questions of SARS-CoV-2 immunity. The second day was dedicated to the exchange with other NUM subprojects, the presentation of overarching platforms and the dialogue on the further development of the COVIM network (01.01.2024-30.06.2025). Foreign insights and a look beyond one‘s own horizon were provided by guest speaker Beate Kampmann, Director of the Institute of International Health in Berlin, with her presentation on SARS-CoV-2 population dynamics in The Gambia (Africa) and guest speaker Christian Gaebler, who has also recently moved to Berlin, on his experiences in the clinical development of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at Rockefeller University (USA).

The two COVIM speakers Florian Klein and Leif Erik Sander opened the network meeting with an overview of the work done so far and the goals achieved in COVIM. The establishment of networks of epidemiological panels in Germany and their further development was the topic of the first presentation by Berit Lange from work packages 1 and 2, followed by Florian Kurth, who presented the data from the COVIM vaccination study (work package 8). The COVIM study provides a special example of the excellent cooperation within the network, as clinical study data from more than 2,000 patients at 11 locations, including particularly vulnerable groups (elderly and immunocompromised), were collected within a few months. Immediately after the emergence of the Omikron variant, COVIM was able to demonstrate the important effect of booster vaccination and thus provided important information for current vaccination recommendations.

In the following session, exemplary reports were given on work from work package 4 on researching the mechanisms of immunity against SARS-CoV-2. Birgit Sawitzki spoke about age-dependent differences in anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunity and COVID-19 severity in relation to variable STAT signalling. The latest findings from work package 6 on the identification and use of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies and T-cell receptors were provided by Klaus Überla and Kilian Schober. Andreas Thiel demonstrated the consequences of pan-coronavirus reactive immunity and Susanne Herold presented therapeutic strategies to increase cellular anti-CoV immunity. The session was rounded off by Clara Lehmann‘s presentation on current knowledge regarding the pathogenesis and diagnosis of post-COVID syndrome.

Christian Drosten reported on the analyses on the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 before reaching population immunity. The exploration of immune responses using camelid nanobodies was the topic of Florian Schmidt‘s presentation. This was followed by Henning Grüll, who presented translational data on the first German antibody therapy study on the highly potent SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody called DZIF-10c, developed in Cologne, and particularly emphasised the close cooperation within the COVIM network NIKS and the DZIF.

Tuesday, 06.06.2023

On the second day of the COVIM network meeting, Ralf Heyder, Head of the NUM Coordination Office, gave an update from the Netzwerk Universitätsmedizin and spoke about the challenge of transferring the NUM from project funding to institutionalisation. We had the pleasure of welcoming Martin Goller from the BMBF, who shared his perspective from the ministry‘s point of view with the meeting participants.

The following session was dedicated to the cross-cutting networks within COVIM. Marylyn Addo reported on the achievements of Work Package 7, the establishment of COVIM NIKS, a network for immunological-infectious studies established at several COVIM sites. Insights into AI and swarm learning with immune data were presented by Hartmut Schultze using the example of Work Package 5 on the COVIM ImmunoHub, while Nicole Skoetz illustrated the management of the high number of new studies/publications using living evidence-based reviews for pandemic preparedness.

From the NUM sub-projects, we welcomed Sven Zenker for the NUM-RDP, who particularly emphasised the development of the ImmunoHub interface in COVIM, Reinhard Berner for ­coverCHILD with commonalities and a focus on child health in the pandemic, and Janne Vehreschild on the NUKLEUS/NAPKON platforms in NUM as the central sample collection points. In the general discussion that followed, the focus was on the outlook for the challenges and goals of the next funding period of COVIM.

The event ended with a heartfelt expression of gratitude from Florian Klein and Leif Erik Sander for the active participation of all participants in the NUM and the COVIM immunity network, as well as to the event organisers and COVIM coordinators Susanne Salomon and Arne Windler, and an invitation to the next international COVIM symposium on 6-7 June 2024 in Berlin.


Monday, 05.06.2023

Welcome & SARS-CoV-2 population Immunity

Chairs: Florian Klein & Leif Erik Sander

12:00 Welcome (Ralf Heyder)

12:05 Current Status COVIM (Florian Klein & Leif Erik Sander)

12:20 Building networks of epidemic panels in Germany (Berit Lange)

12:40 COVIM Vaccination Study (Florian Kurth)

Mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Immunity

Chairs: Ulrike Protzer & Hartmut Hengel

14:00 Variable STAT signaling defines age-dependent differences in anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunity and COVID-19 severity (Birgit Sawitzki)

14:20 Identification and use of SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies and T-cell receptors (Klaus Überla & Kilian Schober)

14:40 Consequences of pan-Coronavirus-reactive Immunity - The Beginning and the End of the ­Pandemic (Andreas Thiel)

15:00 Therapeutic strategies to increase cell-autonomous anti-CoV immunity (Susanne Herold)

15:20 Gaps and current knowledge related to the pathogenesis and diagnosis of post COVID ­syndrome (Clara Lehmann)

Immunity-driven SARS-CoV-2 Evolution

Chairs: Sylvia Knapp & Leif Erik Sander

16:10 Evolution prior to population immunity: the case of VOC Alpha (Christian Drosten)

16:30 TransVir: a household contact study in Gambia to dissect SARS-CoV2 population dynamics (Beate Kampmann - Guest Speaker)

Translating SARS-CoV-2 immunity into therapeutic approaches

Chairs: Marylyn Addo & Florian Klein

16:50 Perturbing infections and innate immune responses with camelid nanobodies (Florian Schmidt)

17:10 Clinical Investigation of Human SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibodies (Henning Grüll)

17:30 Evolution and clinical development of SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies (Christian Gaebler - Guest Speaker)

Tuesday, 06.06.2023

Quo Vadis NUM?

Chairs: Florian Klein & Leif Erik Sander

08:30 Update aus dem Netzwerk Universitätsmedizin (Ralf Heyder)

08:45 Perspektiven des NUM (Martin Goller)

Data Processing

Chairs: Christine Falk & Christian Münz

09:00 Network for Immunological-Infectious Clinical Studies (Marylyn Addo - Hybrid)

09:20 COVIM ImmunoHub (Hartmut Schultze)

09:40 Living Systematic Reviews for Pandemic Prepardeness (Nicole Skoetz)

Collaborative NUM Groups

Chairs: Susanne Herold & Christian Drosten

10:30 NUM-RDP (Sven Zenker - Hybrid)

10:45 Perspektive coverCHILD (Reinhard Berner)

11:00 Plattformen für die klinische und klinisch epidemiologische Forschung im NUM (Janne Vehreschild)

Prospect of COVIM

Chairs: Florian Klein & Leif Erik Sander

11:15 Prospect of COVIM as a NUM-Infrastructure (Leif Erik Sander & Florian Klein)

11:30 Round Table Discussion

13:30 End of Meeting