By Giuseppe Reale, MD, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy

2020 is coming to an end. Surely, it has been an appalling year, bringing all of us close to the edge. However, by changing our lifestyle, we discovered a new standard of keeping in touch to each other and to overcome distances. It forced us to face everyday problems with resilience and creativity, because adaptation is in our nature.

Among healthcare workers, many lives were taken and many were completely changed. Definitely, all of us had to assemble a new grammar of life. This because life goes on, anyway.

Especially in such difficult times, when worldwide Healthcare systems were overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic, the ESO mission to tackle burden of stroke continued, although challenged.

In this view, to spread and strengthen the clinical and scientific efforts in stroke field, the 2020 ESO-WSO Conference to be held in Vienna went virtual, from November 7th to 9th. Even if any skepticism was reasonable before the 2020 ESO-WSO Conference started, 5200 participants from 124 different Countries joined the virtual Conference, making it one of the biggest stroke conferences ever.

It doesn’t matter whether hiccupping internet connections, screaming children or curious cats might have disturbed the scientific sessions, the message was loud and clear: stroke research, networking, idea sharing and update need to keep on.

Moreover, the online live streaming let to join Conference works many people who otherwise would not have been able to participate. We are talking about healthcare workers employed among Covid-19 trenches or covering tight shifts because of shortage of staff, people from far Countries not able to afford trip costs, colleagues with children and so on. In this view, the current Conference format, born while all world was being torn apart, made us closer and was much more inclusive and widespread than ever.

Finally, the current format was unquestionably more sustainable: avoiding trips, gatherings, printed materials and so on, many tons of CO2 were surely saved.

Hoping that 2021 will see the end of the current global pandemic, we think that a lesson can be learnt by this umpteenth story of adaptation: online format can reach and connect more people, keeping the sacred fire of research burn strongly.

Probably, new hybrid both live and online Conference formats will be the future answer to such unpredictable times and the new era of upcoming European Stroke Organisation Conferences.