The establishment of the germ theory and the identification of specific microbes as the causative agents of a wide variety of infectious diseases has led to enormous advances, particularly the development of vaccines and, ultimately, antimicrobials. Over 50 years ago, following the successes of the widespread use of penicillin, the development of polio vaccines and the discovery of drugs for tuberculosis, a general optimism pervaded many people with the famous urban legend describing the Surgeon General of the United States, William H. Stewart, declaring: “the war against infectious diseases has been won”. Unfortunately, in the field of virology nothing is more wrong than that optimistic feeling, in fact, in an age of global air travel, climate change and ecological disturbances, we are constantly exposed to the threat of emerging infectious diseases. We are experiencing a viral pandemic with a devastating impact around the world that has changed our most basic rules of life. Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the event was conceived as a digital version of the flagship annual meeting of the Italian Society of Virology SIV-ISV, whose symposia and activities are designed to achieve the same scientific and networking objectives.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has obviously kept most of us very busy throughout 2020 and early 2021 and will continue to do so. The 2021 SIV-ISV Annual Meeting will therefore devote enough time to this topic for everyone to catch up with the latest developments and discuss burning issues with experts in this field. In fact, two specific sessions will be dedicated to analyzing different aspects of the pandemic: “COVID-19: evolution of a virus” and “COVID-19: pathogenesis, prevention and control”.
Deepening the knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 will allow us to find effective ‘weapons’ against the COVID-19 disease. Clinical and scientific communities have made joint efforts to reduce the severe impact of the epidemic. However, it is important to generate new knowledge on the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the impact on its hosts, to guide the design of innovative therapies and specific vaccines for COVID-19. Understanding of individual and population immunity to SARS-CoV-2 remains incomplete and the development of reliable diagnostic has been the focus of the global scientific effort. Preventing new SARS-CoV-2 infections may be the most effective approach, not only to prevent COVID-19 but also to block the spread of the virus around the world.
The meeting will also feature sessions covering various aspects of general virology, from diagnostics to biotechnology as well as the latest research into innovative antiviral therapies and oncological virology. In addition, topics related to the virology of plants and the environment as well as veterinary virology are other topics of particular interest in the virological field and which deserve a dedicated space within the Congress.