COVID-19                     SARS-CoV-2






Dearcolleagues and friends

A littleover a year ago, the first containment began in Belgium following the emergenceof SARS-CoV2. Within ten days, we were confronted with an influx of patients,the rapid saturation of our hospital and intensive care units, the lack ofpersonal protective equipment but also of RT-PCR tests. At the same time,large-scale epidemics broke out in the nursing homes, resulting in a highmortality rate. During this period, each and every one of us worked hard in thefight against COVID-19 to provide care, to advise our colleagues, but also toinform our fellow citizens. After a little more than a year, more than onemillion cases of SARS-CoV2 infections have been confirmed in Belgium, of whichunfortunately more than 25,000 have died.

This healthcrisis has highlighted the impact of infectious diseases on the daily life ofour societies. Our professions were highlighted in front of politicians butalso in the media. The public health authorities called on our skills andexpertise to help them manage the crisis. Many of us have been involved inworking groups on COVID-19 and many have also shared their knowledge in realtime. The Belgian Society for Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, incollaboration with Sciensano, has been involved in the creation of a workinggroup to draft recommendations for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Itsmembers also participated in numerous meetings of the Risk Assessment Group(RAG), some of them in the GEMS.

The year2020 also saw the official recognition of two new medical specialties,clinical infectious diseases and medical microbiology. The accreditation commissions forrecognition have been set up in the Flemish and Wallonia-Brussels communities.The first recognition files should be completed shortly. Training places ininfectiology and medical microbiology should soon be available in our hospitalsto welcome new doctors in training.

Ourpharmacist-biologist colleagues have not obtained the same status as that ofdoctors. This unacceptable situation must not remain unchanged. The SBIMC-BVIKMhas called on the government authorities and the Royal Academy of Medicine toobtain the same recognition for pharmacists-biologists.

Thecreation of new specialties also means obtaining specific funding for them. A first working group is currently discussing the financing ofclinical infectiology with the various partners involved (RIZIV-INAMI, unions and hospitalassociations, ...). A discussion should soon be initiated for medicalmicrobiology, bearing in mind that microbiology cannot be financed withoutprior recognition of microbiological pharmacists.

Otherimportant projects will have to be carried out this year. A working groupcomposed of adult and paediatric infectious diseases specialists,microbiologists and hospital pharmacists will have to ensure the regularupdating of the Infectious Diseases Guide (IGGI). Its format must be modernised withthe possibility of downloading documents onto tablets or smartphones. Awide-ranging discussion on this subject is underway.

The year 2021 will also bethe year of preparation for the change in EUCAST standards with a major changein the meaning of the "intermediate" category, which will be replacedby a "sensitive to increased doses" category. This change will have tobe widely communicated to the medical community.

The challenges for the year are numerous in order to gain recognition for our specificities and the value of our professions. Together, we are gaining visibility and recognition. In the coming weeks, we will invite you to give your opinion or to participate in a working group.

With my best collegiate greetings,


Prof.dr. Olivier Denis, president.