Respiratory virus surveillance and study protocols

ECDC provides technical guidance to the Member States. This includes guidance regarding data collection for outbreaks in closed settings, contact tracing and routine surveillance of respiratory viruses. 

Technical guidance

Reporting protocols

Reporting protocols provide guidelines on how to prepare data for submission to The European Surveillance System (TESSy). All pertinent deadlines are listed, and recent changes to the metadata summarised. The following reporting protocols are relevant for the reporting of COVID-19:

Respiratory virus surveillance guidance 

With the transition of COVID-19 from a pandemic situation into a possibly seasonal circulation, surveillance systems need to be developed for better adaptability and the adoption of a sustainable, population-based integrated approach to monitor influenza, COVID-19, and other potential respiratory virus infections (such as RSV, or new viral respiratory diseases which constitute a public health concern).

Most European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries which had established comprehensive testing and reporting of all COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths are transitioning or planning to transition to such sustainable, objective-driven, surveillance systems. Effective integrated surveillance systems should provide sufficient data to monitor the spread and intensity of respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, in order to guide control measures and mitigate the impact of these viruses. These systems will also be important in the event of pandemics in the future.

Well-designed, representative sentinel surveillance systems in primary and secondary care which focus on cases of acute respiratory infections and severe acute respiratory infections should remain the central surveillance method. Sentinel systems provide robust epidemiological data that are routinely collected using common syndromic case definitions with reliable denominators and integral microbiological testing which can be extended to multiple viruses. This makes them ideal as the basis of integrated impact assessment of influenza, COVID-19, and other potential respiratory virus infections.

The ECDC-WHO guidance on, ‘Operational considerations for respiratory virus surveillance in Europe’ provides Member States with updated surveillance objectives and options to effectively implement this transition:

Page last updated 15 Dec 2022