Hello from Boston where we are hosting Virtual CROI 2020! We hope that you have been able to log on to hear the outstanding plenaries, oral abstract and themed discussion sessions, and symposia. On Tuesday we had an especially exciting update on the COVID-19 epidemic and SARS-CoV-2 which is available on the CROI website and is available to everyone, not just CROI registrants. Our final day of live CROI broadcasting included a full slate of fantastic presentations and a special update on the HVTN 702 study.
We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience as we executed this first ever Virtual CROI. We know that everything was not perfect, but we hope you can appreciate the effort it has taken by speakers, the CROI program committee, and the IAS-USA staff to make the outstanding scientific contributions made by all of our basic and clinical science colleagues this year available to CROI registrants through this process. We appreciate all of the feedback and suggestions provided by our attendees and colleagues via emails, twitter, phone conversations and in person that enabled us to immediately revise programming each day to improve the virtual experience. Although we could not organize as much real-time interaction and question and answer sessions as we would have liked, the energy and technological savvy of our audiovisual staff and some of our PC members enabled us to add a mechanism for direct interaction in sessions today and to many of the Wednesday sessions. We all have learned a lot through this process and as we all do as scientists, we will analyze the data and outcomes we have observed and use the information to move CROI forward in the future.
We will not be able to estimate the costs and penalties associated with the transition of the meeting from an in person to a virtual format for some weeks. Unfortunately, although the CROI Foundation carries meeting liability insurance that covers most natural disasters and even a terrorist attack, we learned, as did many other large conference organizers, that many similar policies exclude cancellations due to “organic pathogens” like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. We will do our best to get this right, but again, we ask for your patience as we work through the financial implications of the COVID-19 epidemic on the current and future CROI conferences.