For the second year in succession, the ESAIC Board of Directors and Secretariat have made the difficult decision to hold an entirely online Euroanaesthesia 2021. Due to rising COVID-19 cases across Germany and Europe in general, it is no longer possible to hold an in-person event.
ESAIC President Prof Kai Zacharowski warmly welcomes all delegates to this online version of Euroanaesthesia 2021 but wishes we could have met in person before he steps down as President in January 2022. Kai is Director of the Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine & Pain Therapy, University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany, and is an intensive care specialist. Like many of our delegates, he has served on the front line during the pandemic.
Q: It’s a shame that Euroanaesthesia must be completely online again Kai. It was of course done with the safety of delegates as our top priority, along with making sure they can continue to serve their hospitals/communities as cases begin to rise in Europe once again. How difficult was it to come to this decision to go online only?
A: Tony, as you can imagine – extremely painful for our Society and members. Medical knowledge also increases with personal contacts and face-to-face discussions. We have to accept the situation and make the best out of it.
Q: Germany and Austria seem to be among the hardest-hit countries in Europe with regard to rising COVID-19 cases. What is different in these countries that have made them vulnerable?
A: In both countries, 30% of the population is not accepting the vaccine. Therefore, in addition to new variants, many people can get infected and sick. Other countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal have a far higher rate of vaccination and therefore fewer problems.
Q: How have your two years as President been? Last year, you said that you wanted to raise the profile of intensive care medicine within the society. How do you think that is going?
A: We have changed accordingly the name of our Society to ESAIC and have treated 70% of the COVID-19 ICU patients in Europe. Furthermore, we managed two ICU projects within EU-Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe 2021, namely ENVISION and COVend.
Q: You also told us last year about the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program and the award of almost 6 million Euros with the project ENVISION, involving 19 partners from 13 different European countries in this consortium, all of who are anaesthesiologists/intensivists. Tell us some more about this project and how it is going?
A: As mentioned before we also managed COVend with 10 million Euros. In this project, we are testing a novel drug, a fibrin fragment we are all carrying in our bodies. Our approach is to inhibit the progression of COVID-19 from mild/moderate to a severe state. In ENVISION we are collecting ICU data of COVID-19 patients in several EU countries. These data will be analysed by AI to find novel treatment options etc.
Q: Another one of your aims was to progress the work of the European Patient Blood Management (PBM) network created at Euroanaesthesia 2016. What is the latest news from this network?
A: We just have finished the collection of 1.4 million patients’ data in Germany and we are now starting this project on a European level.
Q: One of the advantages of going online is that you as President and the other senior board members may have a little more time to view sessions than you would in an in-person meeting, As usual, we have so much variety this year. What are some of the sessions that have caught your attention on this year’s program?
A: Far too many to mention! For sure there is something for everyone in our program.
Q: Finally, merry Christmas and happy holidays to you Kai. What would you like to say to our members as you step down from your time as ESAIC President?
A: Please be proud of ESAIC and the many achievements of our Society (175 years of anaesthesia – (see video); two major EU grants; name change, FESAIC, etc.) and please welcome the new President Prof. Edoardo de Robertis.
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