European responses to the corona crisis – Part 13

During the Coronavirus crises, the European Science-Media Hub is collecting and publishing a regular update of the most relevant releases provided by EU institutions and other European and global actors. 🆕 Last Update : 27 Feb 2021

Feb 19-26, 2021 update

On February 26, the European Commission announced it had launched a structured dialogue with the actors in the pharmaceuticals manufacturing chain as part of the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe. The launch of the dialogue follows a   request by the European Council   to reinforce the EU’s strategic autonomy in the area of pharmaceutical products since the COVID-19 crisis has raised concerns about possible shortages of certain pharmaceuticals and a possible EU dependency on imports of pharmaceuticals from third countries.

25 February: EP Press release – Sassoli: COVID-19: No return to pre-pandemic status quo. More democracy, more solidarity, more Europe. Health policy should be an EU competence

On February 25, the European Commission published the reports of the COVID-19 disinformation monitoring programme set up under the 10 June 2020 Joint Communication ‘Tackling COVID-19 disinformation – Getting the facts right’ on actions taken by TikTok, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Mozilla in January 2021.

On February 25, the European Parliament’s ENVI and ITRE Committees organised a hearing on how to increase the capacity of COVID 19 vaccine production and improve delivery.

On February 19, the European Commission announced an additional €500 million for the COVAX Facility, as well as €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa, which are spearheaded by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).


Feb 17-19, 2021 update

On February 17, the Commission announced it had approved a second contract with the pharmaceutical firm Moderna for the delivery of 300 million additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine. The new contract also provides for the possibility to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.
On February 17, the Commission announced its new European bio-defence preparedness plan  against COVID-19 variants, otherwise known as “HERA Incubator”. The incubator will work with researchers, biotech companies, manufacturers and public authorities in the EU and globally to detect new variants, provide incentives to develop new and adapted vaccines, speed up the approval process for these vaccines, and ensure scaling up of manufacturing capacities.
On February 18, the European Commission announced that the EU Health Security Committee had agreed on a common list of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests. These tests will be mutually recognised by Member States and a common standardised set of data will be included in COVID-19 test result certificates.
On February 19, the European Commission announced that the EU – in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) – has launched a new regional project worth over €7 million to support safe and effective vaccination of the populations across the Western Balkans. This project will help prepare the region for the effective reception and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, including those received from COVAX and through the EU vaccine sharing mechanism with EU Member States. It will also help improve the region’s resilience against health emergencies and support it in moving towards sustainable funding for universal health care. Activities will include, amongst others, development and testing of emergency preparedness plans, training for health professionals and development of information management systems for vaccine roll out.


Feb 16, 2021 update

Two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine have been given WHO Emergency Use Listing.


Feb 5, 2021 update

WHO: Redoubling public health measures needed due to COVID-19 virus variants – Research and observations indicate that the variant spreads across all age groups, and children do not appear to be at higher risk. However, with increased transmissibility, this variant does raise concern: if we do not continue and redouble the measures to slow its spread, there will be a higher impact on health facilities already under stress.

EP ENVI: MEPs urge EU countries to be transparent about their COVID-19 vaccine supplies – In order to respond to European citizens’ growing concerns, data on the number of vaccine doses supplied and on the vaccination schedules for each country must be transparent and provided on a monthly basis until the summer.


Feb 1, 2021 update

EUROPOL: Warning on the illicit sale of false negative covid-19 test certificates – As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, it is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity of producing and selling fake COVID-19 test certificates.

ECDC: Monitoring COVID-19 vaccination progress across Europe – To monitor the progress of vaccination efforts across the EU/EEA, ECDC has set up a monitoring system for collection of key vaccine rollout indicators.


Jan 28, 2021 update

Commissioner Kyriakides answering MEP’s question on COVID-19 mutation on mink farms – According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, six countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Italy and the US) have thus far reported SARS-CoV-2 in mink used for breeding. In the light of this, could the Commission answer the following:
• Is it aware of countries that are taking action? If so, what restrictions and measures are being imposed?
• Will all live trade in mink as well as the mink in the potentially affected areas be traced?
• Has there been an increase in the number of cases and the virulence of the virus in humans in the affected region of Denmark?


Jan 27, 2021 update

EU Member States: Guidelines on proof of vaccination for medical purposes – These guidelines aim at preparing for interoperability between proofs of vaccination, whereby Member States or other parties can decide to implement or use them. They are meant to drive the design of interoperable solutions. The guidelines are mostly targeting the COVID-19 vaccination but might be used in the future as a basis for asserting other vaccinations or prophylaxis.


Jan 25, 2021 update

European Commission: Additional safeguards on travel from outside the EU and updated criteria for applying travel restrictions – New coronavirus variants and the volatile health situation worldwide call for further action to ensure that any travel to the EU takes place safely. To reflect the latest scientific advice, the Commission is also proposing updated criteria taking into account the testing rate, testing positivity and detection of variants of concern when deciding on the application of restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU to a specific non-EU country.

European Commission: Update to coordinated approach on free movement restrictions – The Commission proposed an update to the Council Recommendation of last October coordinating measures affecting free movement in the European Union. This is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to ensure better coordination and communication of travel-related measures at EU level. In light of new coronavirus variants and high numbers of new infections across many Member States, it is necessary to strongly discourage non-essential travel, while avoiding border closures or blanket travel bans and ensuring that the functioning of the Single Market and supply chains remain uninterrupted.


Jan 20, 2021 update

ECDC-JRC: The launch of joint Response Measures DatabaseThe European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission have recently launched their joint Response Measures Database. This is an archive of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), or measures, introduced by 30 countries in the European Union and European Economic Area in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The RMD is reviewed and updated every two weeks.


Jan 19, 2021 update

EP: COVID-19 vaccines – EU must respond with unity and solidarityMEPs expressed broad support for the common EU approach to fighting the pandemic and called for complete transparency regarding contracts and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines

Jan 12, 2021 update

EMA: Application for conditional marketing authorisation of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca – The European Medicines Agency has received an application for conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The assessment of the vaccine, known as COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, will proceed under an accelerated timeline. An opinion on the marketing authorisation could be issued by 29 January during the meeting of EMA’s scientific committee for human medicines (CHMP), provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently robust and complete and that any additional information required to complete the assessment is promptly submitted.

COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs call for more clarity and transparency – Members of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety quizzed Sandra Gallina, the EU’s lead negotiator on COVID-19 vaccine contracts, on the latest developments regarding contracts, transparency, authorisations, availability and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.


Jan 11, 2021 update

European Commission: Support of blood services to increase COVID-19 convalescent plasma collection – The European Commission has selected 24 projects that will build new programmes, or expand existing ones, for the collection of plasma from donors recovered from COVID-19. The plasma donations will be used for the treatment of patients with the disease.


Jan 7, 2021 update

WHO statement: COVID-19: a challenging start to 2021, new COVID-19 variants and promising vaccine progress – Be it vaccine allocation and prioritization, access to medical supplies and tests, or public health measures and policies to control the pandemic, we have a responsibility to base decisions on the core values that are at the heart of humanity: solidarity, equity and social justice. It is the only way out of these uncertain times, because no one is safe until everyone is safe.


Jan 6, 2021 update

European Commission: Authorisation of a  second safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 – The European Commission has granted a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the second COVID-19 vaccine authorised in the EU. This authorisation follows a positive scientific recommendation based on a thorough assessment of the safety, effectiveness and quality of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency and is endorsed by the Member States.

EMA recommends COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna for authorisation in the EU – The European Medicines Agency has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna to prevent Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in people from 18 years of age. This is the second COVID-19 vaccine that EMA has recommended for authorisation.


Dec 22, 2020 update

European Commission: Recommendation on EU coordinated approach to travel and transport in response to new variant of coronavirus in the UK – Following the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in parts of England, of which a large proportion belongs to a new variant of the virus, the Commission today adopted a Recommendation on a coordinated approach to travel and transport measures.


Dec 21, 2020 update

European Commission: Authorisation of the first safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 – The European Commission has granted a conditional marketing authorisation for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine authorised in the EU. This authorisation follows a positive scientific recommendation based on a thorough assessment of the safety, effectiveness and quality of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency and is endorsed by the Member States.

European Commission Q&A: Conditional Marketing Authorisation of COVID-19 Vaccines in the EU

EMA: Recommendation on a first COVID-19 vaccine for authorisation in the EU – EMA has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for the vaccine Comirnaty, developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in people from 16 years of age. EMA’s scientific opinion paves the way for the first marketing authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccine in the EU by the European Commission, with all the safeguards, controls and obligations this entails.

EMA opinion on Comirnaty – COVID-19 mRNA vaccine – Comirnaty is a vaccine for preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in people aged 16 years and older. Comirnaty contains a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) with instructions for producing a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Comirnaty does not contain the virus itself and cannot cause COVID-19.

ECDC: First COVID-19 vaccine authorised for use in the EU – ECDC welcomes the authorisation of the first vaccine against COVID-19 in EU/EEA. We have been looking forward to this moment for a long time.


Dec 7, 2020 update

JRC: New reference materials for the quality control of SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests – The new reference materials can be used to check the correct functioning of SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests. They can also support research on immunity against COVID-19 and help monitor the efficiency of experimental vaccines.


Dec 3, 2020 update

European Commission: “Staying safe from COVID-19 during winter” strategy – The strategy recommends continued vigilance and caution throughout the winter period and into 2021 when the roll out of safe and effective vaccines will occur. The Commission will then provide further guidance on a gradual and coordinated lifting of containment measures.

WHO: Latest update on the pandemic and preparations for COVID-19 vaccine deployment – The virus still has the potential to do enormous damage unless we do everything in our power to stop its spread. And part of the solution will be vaccination.


Nov 25, 2020 update

European Commission: Contract with Moderna to ensure access to a potential vaccine – The European Commission approved a sixth contract under the EU Vaccines Strategy, this time with the pharmaceutical company Moderna. The contract provides for the initial purchase of 80 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 80 million doses, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19.


Nov 18, 2020 update

ECDC: Antimicrobial resistance and consumption remains high in the EU/EEA and the UK

EMA: European Antibiotic Awareness Day


Nov 11, 2020 update

European Commission: Contract with BioNTech-Pfizer alliance to ensure access to a potential vaccine – the European Commission approved a fourth contract with pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer, which provides for the initial purchase of 200 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 100 million doses, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19. Member States can decide to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.


Oct 8, 2020 update

European Commission: Fighting COVID-19 disinformation Monitoring Programme – A further set of reports provided by the signatories of the Code of Practice on Disinformation as part of the COVID-19 monitoring and reporting programme is published.”

European Commission: third contract to ensure access to a potential vaccine – The European Commission approved a third contract with a pharmaceutical company, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

European Commission: A joint procurement contract with Gilead for the supply of Remdesivir – The Commission has signed a joint procurement framework contract with the pharmaceutical company Gilead for the supply of up to 500,000 treatment courses of Veklury, the brand name for Remdesivir, and the opportunity to increase supply beyond the 500,000 treatment courses.


Sept 23, 2020 update

ECDC: New COVID-19 situation dashboard – The ECDC COVID-19 situation dashboard, first launched in March 2020, has been improved with a simplified design and enhanced functionality enabling users to easily monitor the COVID-19 pandemic at the European and global level.


July 23, 2020 update

EP: EU long-term budget deal must be improved for Parliament to accept it – The recovery fund is a “historic move”, but long-term EU priorities such as the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda are put at risk. say MEPS in a resolution on the conclusions of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 17-21 July 2020.


July 22, 2020 update

UNAIDS: New COVID-19 Law Lab to provide vital legal information and support for the global COVID-19 response – The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards.

European Commission: Strengthening health and other key services in Tajikistan with €112 million – As part of its Team Europe Global Response, the European Commission announced €112.2 million to strengthen health, education and social services in Tajikistan and support the country in its coronavirus response.

European Commission: EU supports vaccine research with additional €100 million – The Commission will co-fund with €100 million a call launched by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines.


July 21, 2020 update

EMA: Infrastructure for real-world monitoring of treatments and vaccines – EMA has now set up an infrastructure to support the monitoring of the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines when used in day-to-day clinical practice.


July 20, 2020 update

EU Commissioner Reynders answering MEP’s question on Voluntary’ coronavirus quarantine apps
1. Does the Commission agree that an application tracking the movements of individuals as an alternative to a 14-day stay in a state quarantine centre cannot be considered ‘voluntary’?
2. Does the Commission consider the mandatory choice between a 14-day stay in a state quarantine centre or the use of a surveillance application using highly sensitive data to be in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights?
3. What action will the Commission take against Member States deploying such allegedly ‘voluntary’ applications?

EP Policy Department study: Assessment of COVID-19 surveillance case definitions and data reporting in the EU – The COVID-19 crisis has revealed shortcomings in the area of public health data comparability that can have a serious impact on the coordination of the EU response. It is fundamental to ensure consistency of definitions across Member States of ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ cases, or of ‘death due to COVID-19’, in order to provide the necessary comparability to evaluate the public health response, the stress on the health system and the impact on the population’s health.


July 17, 2020 update

EPRS paper: Coronavirus: An uncertain future – This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from international think tanks on coronavirus and related issues.

European Commission Short-term EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks – This Communication aims at ensuring the EU’s short-term health preparedness in case of further COVID-19 outbreaks in Europe. It draws particular attention to the need to reduce the burden of the 2020/2021 seasonal flu, so to mitigate the additional strain on health systems should this coincide with a further outbreak of COVID-19.

European Commission: EU programme promotes digital solutions to the crisis in Africa – The European Union has announced a €10.4 million programme to promote digital solutions to fight the coronavirus pandemic and to improve the resilience of health and education systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.


July 16, 2020 update

EPRS paper: Coronavirus restrictions – The role of therapeutics, testing, and contact-tracing – This publication provides an overview of the role of therapeutics, testing and contact-tracing apps in the context of lifting coronavirus-related restrictions on movement and social life in EU Mss.

EU Commissioner Breton answering MEP’s question on Fake news and disinformation during the COVID-19 crisis
1. Is the Commission considering introducing greater control and monitoring procedures with regard to the current recommendations?
2. Is the Commission planning to introduce new and tougher legislation to fight against disinformation?

EU Commissioner Kyriakides answering MEP’s question on Coronavirus outbreak
1. Does it agree that there is a need to establish a single prevention protocol for all Member States and, at the same time, a communication task force to provide European citizens with accurate information, shield them from dangerous myths about the disease, and make them aware of the necessary precautionary measures?
2. In order to counter the spread of fake or misleading news about the situation in each Member State, can it provide, as a matter of extreme urgency, details of the preventive measures taken by each Member State, and statistics on the number of tests each has carried out, the results and confirmed deaths?

EU Commissioner Lenarčič answering MEP’s question on Extraordinary measures to address the consequences of COVID-19
1. How does the Commission intend to improve the coordination of crisis management mechanisms among the Member States?
2. As existing EU funds will not be sufficient to deal with the outcomes of the pandemic, does the Commission plan to use all the margins available under the multiannual financial framework to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis in the EU?
3. Taking into account the urgent need to make progress with research in diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics — indispensable for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic — can the Commission confirm that it intends to bolster investments in research and innovation outside the framework of the Horizon 2020 Programme?


July 15, 2020 update

EU Council: Regulation on Conduct of clinical trials with and supply of medicinal products for human use containing or consisting of genetically modified organisms intended to treat or prevent coronavirus disease


July 7, 2020 update

ASEAN and the EU together in fighting the coronavirus through research and innovation

The first EU-ASEAN webinar dedicated to High-Performance Computing (HPC) COVID19-related modelling and diagnostic took place on 10 July 2020. As a collaborative initiative among the ASEAN-HPC Task Force, the ASEAN Committee for Science Technology and Innovation (COSTI), the ASEAN Secretariat Science & Technology Division (ASEC S&T), and the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI), the webinar brought together speakers and representatives from the EU and ASEAN MSs scientific organizations and academia.


July 3, 2020 update

EU Commissioner Breton answering MEP’s question on Vaccine against COVID-19

Does the Commission plan to present new legislation in this area, particularly on EU patent protection, patent sharing and accessibility?

Does the Commission plan to propose that Member States engage the debate on patent protection for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines in the WTO, and particularly within the TRIPs framework?

Once a vaccine is found, what steps will the Commission take to ensure that it is made available and accessible to low and middle income countries as soon as possible?


Link to Part 12 (19 June – 30 June)

Link to Part 11 (2 June – 18 June)

Link to Part 10 (21 May – 26 May)

Link to Part 9 (15 May – 20 May)

Link to Part 8 (9 May – 14 May)

Link to Part 7 (1 May – 8 May)

Link to Part 6 (25 April – 30 April)

Link to Part 5 (18 April – 24 April)

Link to Part 4 (11 April – 17 April)

Link to Part 3 (4 April – 10 April)

Link to Part 2 (28 March – 3 April)

Link to Part 1 (12 March – 27 March)

 

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