EAPM – Newsletter arrives, conference en route, Commission to present health proposals

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Greetings, one and all, and welcome to the second European Alliance for Personalised Medicine update of the week, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

EAPM newsletter

Our newsletter, detailing the important health-related news of September and upcoming health events, is now available. Click here.

EAPM German EU Presidency conference

The EAPM-organized EU Presidency conference is just around the corner. It is entitled ‘Ensuring Access to Innovation and data-rich biomarker space to speed better quality of care for Citizens in a COVID 19 and Post-COVID 19 world’, and takes place during the Germany EU Presidency conference. It will be a ‘virtual’ event, held online, on 12 October. Please find the link here to register and the agenda is here.

Commission health proposals

According to a new College of Commission agenda published today (2 October), the Commission is scheduled to present four different health plans on 24 November. Two of these are proposals to extend the mandate of both the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and European Medicines Agency (EMA). The third is on “preparedness and resilience in health emergency situations”, the document said. 

The last is the Commission’s pharmaceutical strategy, which was already planned for the fourth quarter. The Commission also scheduled the release of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan for 9 December. Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas is scheduled to present all five health files.

New director general for DG Sante

As of now, Sandra Gallina is acting director general of DG Sante. She has recently spoken of the EU’s €1.8 trillion recovery package, which “has the means” to make health changes across the bloc. “We have the means, we have the money, we are putting the money where it needs to be,” she said at a conference this week.

Yes, we have the money; but more importantly, we have the political vision” of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, she insisted.

EU looks forward with health policies

DG SANTE plans to develop a new chapter for health in Europe, one that is well-equipped to deal with the on-going COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath. EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides stated earlier this year that “sustainability, digital transformation, and reinforced resilience will be our compasses to move forward”. DG SANTE is particularly keen to develop the ability to deliver universally accessible and affordable food, medicines, and health care long-term, despite any crisis or hurdles that Europe may encounter. 

One initiative able to strengthen these areas comes in the form of the new EU Health Programme, EU4Health. EU4Health is a stand-alone programme with a significantly increased budget of €9.4 billion – 23 times larger than it was at the beginning of 2020. “COVID-19 has taught us that Europe needs to give a higher priority to health, to enable it to respond better to epidemics and other unforeseen health threats,” added Commissioner Kyriakides. 

The programme is investing in three key areas: preparedness and prevention, available and affordable medicines, and lastly, building stronger health systems using digital tools. This programme is not only responding to the lessons learned through the rise of COVID-19, (which has indeed undoubtedly altered EU Health priorities), but also will help Europe to implement other health strategies moving forward, such as the EU’s Cancer Plan and the Pharmaceutical Strategy. 

A COVID-19 vaccine 

In September 2020, the European Commission signed a second contract to ensure access to a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The contract will allow all EU member states to purchase up to 300 million doses of the Sanofi-GSK vaccine. Moreover, member states may also donate any reserved doses to lower and middle-income countries. Sanofi and GSK will also endeavour to provide a significant portion of their vaccine supply through a collaboration with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility – the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator for lower and middle-income countries – in a timely manner. Participation in the COVAX Facility will ensure equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines. 

This is part of the European strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and deployment of effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19. Kyriakides added: “Being part of the COVAX Facility means ensuring its success and providing access to vaccines for low and middle-income countries. It means ensuring access not only for those who can afford it – but to all citizens globally. And it means showing solidarity and global leadership. It is only together that we will be able to overcome COVID-19.”

No more lockdowns? 

Speaking during a Chatham House briefing earlier this week, the World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan said that lockdowns were a “really blunt instrument and one without a whole lot of precision”. “My biggest fear is that we are losing sight of the enemy … by not having the surveillance systems in place. And when you cannot see where your enemy is, your responses can only be blind.” His comments were echoed by epidemiologist David Heymann, who said that “no more blunt shutdowns are necessary”. Rather, he said that countries needed to understand and learn where transmission is occurring.

E-Health pilot project launched in France’s Grand Est region

Spearheaded by the GIP PULSY (a regional public interest group promoting the development of e-Health), the “e-Parcours” programme, a French suite of digital services facilitating the patient care pathway is continuing to implement its goal of improving communications between the office-based private practice and hospital segments. The technological solutions developed through this programme will facilitate the flow of information among the different business line applications of healthcare professionals across the private practice sector, healthcare establishments and regional coordination structures. “As part of an Information Technology Master Plan, this programme will accelerate the transmission of health data between regional healthcare stakeholders and, in this way, improve patient care by delivering medical information to the right place at the right time,” explained Jean-Christophe Calvo, head of the Digital Transformation and Biomedical Engineering Department of the GHT Sud Lorraine hospital group.

UK to help fund WHO reform

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pledge tomorrow (3 October) a 30 % increase in funding for the World Health Organization while urging reforms to the global health body and calling for a revival of cross-border cooperation to end “ugly rifts”. Delivering a recorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Johnson will say the COVID-19 pandemic has increased barriers to trade. 

And that is everything from EAPM for this week – don’t forget to check out the EAPM newsletter here, and there is still time to register for the EAPM German EU Presidency conference here and the agenda is here. Have an excellent weekend, stay safe and well.

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