March Pharma Conferences to Proceed as Planned Despite COVID-19 Concerns


With concerns of COVID-19 affecting travel recommendations in parts of the globe, multiple pharma conferences set to take place in the United States this month will proceed as planned, but event organizers are urging precaution against the coronavirus.

The HMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition will kick off March 9 in Orlando and run through March 13. As of the end of February, the event organizers noted that registration for the conference is up more than 7% and cancellations remain less than .05%. Part of that could do with the fact that President Donald Trump is set to speak at the conference on its opening day. This will mark the first time a sitting U.S. president has addressed the conference, Healthcare IT News reported. Trump is expected to talk about innovation in the pharma industry, but with increasing concerns about the virus, particularly as the United States has seen its first casualties from COVID-19 infections, the president is likely to touch on the federal response to the issue.

With a large gathering of industry dignitaries, as well as the president, HIMSS organizers said they are monitoring the COVID-19 reports and responding appropriately to recommended guidelines.

“HIMSS has assembled an external panel of medical professionals to further advise our evidence-based decision-making and to ensure the safety of the healthcare community currently planning to assemble in Florida for HIMSS20,” organizers announced Monday.

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Although there are increasing U.S. cases. HIMSS organizers noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has publicly deemed the health risk of coronavirus for the general American public to be low at this time. Still, the organization said it was taking precautions, including accommodating potential cancellations from attendees who are coming to the conference from international locations where the virus is more prevalent. HIMSS organizers recommend those attendees who are not feeling well to skip this year’s conference and will be providing guidelines and updates to conference attendee hotels on healthy procedures and tips. All guests checking in will receive printed copies of safety measures, the organization said.

During the conference itself, HIMSS said the 2020 event will be a handshake-free meeting and recommend using an elbow tap as a form of greeting. The organizers are also working with the local medical community to provide additional on-site support.

Screening procedures established by the CDC will be conducted on site throughout the conference, the organizer said.

HIMSS isn’t the only conference this month taking precautions against COVID-19. The American Academy of Dermatology will hold its annual meeting March 20-24 in Denver. The organization noted Monday that registration for the event remains strong but added that conference organizers are taking all the necessary precautions.

“We want to assure everyone planning to attend the AAD Annual Meeting that their health, safety, and security is our top priority. We will be providing membership regular updates on the meeting as our environment changes,” AAD announced Monday. “The AAD is taking COVID-19 seriously and is fully engaged and prepared to host a successful Annual Meeting in Denver.”

Much like the HIMSS team, AAD organizers said they will adhere to CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19. In addition to the health preparations, AAD said it will enhance its communications in order to alert attendees to any changes in meeting status. Additionally, the Colorado Convention Center, the site of the AAD meeting, announced its housekeeping team will ensure that all “high-touch” surfaces will be vigorously cleaned throughout each day.

In San Diego, organizers of the 3rd Annual Formulation & Drug Delivery Conference scheduled for March 17-18 are also taking necessary precautions. In addition to CDC guidelines, the organizers asked that attendees who have been to an affected region over the past month, or who are showing any symptoms associated with the virus to not attend the event. Invitations to those from affected regions has been restricted, the organizers noted on the event website.

“Again, if you’ve had the sniffles, or been to an affected region recently — sit out this year’s event.  We’ll see you at the next one,” the organizers said.

In addition to the U.S. conferences, there are also a couple of conferences scheduled in Europe this month. The Euro Infectious Diseases Congress will be held in Paris on March 23 and 24 and the Bioprocessing Summit Europe will be held in Barcelona March 24-26. Neither organization has provided COVID-19-related information on their websites.

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