Eurogroup and Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meetings on 5-6 October

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Welcome, everyone, to the first update of the week from the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM), writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

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 held online, on 12 October – there are some terrific keynote speakers lined up, 150 guests have already registered but, as it is a ‘virtual’ conference, there is no limit to numbers, so do register now. Please find the link here to register and the agenda is here.

European Carers’ Day

Even more pressing is European Carers’ Day, which takes place tomorrow (6 October). Particularly relevant in these dark days of COVID 19, it also has a marked relevance to personalised health care in general – namely, how can we ensure the best quality of life for all patients? As Europe’s population ages markedly, a key challenge is to develop care pathways that support better integrated health and social care services for an increasing number of older people. In too many countries, there are barriers between the two areas rather than co-ordination. Stakeholders from across the different stakeholders groups such as the patients, medical community as relevant countries as well as industry are all involved – for more information, click here.

Aiming for enlightening data: Improvements needed for surveillance data

Speaking at a conference on Friday (2 October), the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Mike Ryan opined that the planet is paying the price for “a poorly planned, poorly funded, poorly implemented comprehensive data architecture”. “You cannot build [global standardized public health data systems] them MacGyver-style, with duct tape, in the middle of a pandemic,” Ryan added.

And Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides joined in the criticism: “[Surveillance systems] have hindered the provision of reliable and comparable analysis of epidemiological situations,” she said.

EAPM published an article last week, which dealt with many of these issues regarding the importance of digitalization during COVID 19. Click here to read the full article entitled ‘Digitalization and COVID-19: The Perfect Storm’. 

Co-ordinating co-ordination

Speaking during the EU summit on 2 October, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that health ministers should perhaps be made responsible for the COVID-19 co-ordination work, ancillary to the Council working on political and social issues such as convincing people that the virus is serious. In addition, the ECDC was also important in coordination, said Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela. On the ECDC, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed to the organization’s proposed quarantine period of 10 days, with some countries going their own way and deciding on shorter periods. Here was another area where more co-ordination was needed, explained Merkel. 

This was echoed in our recent event at the premier Oncology event at ESMO entitled ‘seeking innovative solutions at ESMO for cancer patients’ and the report is available here

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen goes into coronavirus quarantine

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is self-isolating after being in close contact last week with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

I’ve been informed that I participated in a meeting last Tuesday attended by a person who yesterday tested positive for COVID-19,” von der Leyen said on Twitter this morning. “In accordance with regulations in force, I’m therefore self-isolating until tomorrow morning.”

UK scientists hope to deploy coronavirus vaccine in three months

The ongoing will-they, won’t they concerning coronavirus vaccines in the UK continues, according to The Timesnewspaper, which has now said that they could be achieved in as little as three months.

Scientists who are working on the vaccine developed by the company AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford are allegedly confident that European regulators will approve it “before the start of next year”. The Times quoted “health officials” saying that “every adult could receive a dose within six months.” Coronavirus has killed more than 42,000 people in the U.K, and more than a million people world-wide, according to the John Hopkins University.

New three-tier lockdown could be en route for England 

A new three-tier lockdown system is being planned for England, with leaked government documents paving the way for potential harsher restrictions including the closure of pubs and a ban on all social contact outside of household groups. 

The draft traffic-light-style plan is designed to simplify the current patchwork of localized restrictions, which apply to about a quarter of the UK. It also reveals tougher measures that could be imposed by the government locally or nationally if Covid cases are not brought under control. On Sunday (4 October) the number of cases jumped by 22,961 after it emerged that more than 15,000 test results had not previously been transferred on to computer systems, including for contact tracers. Called the ‘COVID-19 Proposed Social Distancing Framework’ and dated 30 September, it has not yet been signed off by No 10 and measures could still be watered down. 

Alert level 3 – the most serious – contains tougher measures than any seen so far in local lockdowns since the start of the pandemic. They include: 

  •  Closure of hospitality and leisure businesses.

  • No social contact outside your household in any setting. 

  • Restrictions on overnight stays away from home. 

  • No organized non-professional sports permitted or other communal hobby groups and activities, such as social clubs in community centres. 

  • Places of worship can remain open.

Schools are not mentioned in the draft. A government source said this was because Boris Johnson had made clear that classroom closures would be a last resort and the reopening of schools was considered within Whitehall to have been a relative success.

Trump drive-by labelled ‘insane’

US President Donald Trump received widespread condemnation on Sunday (4 October) following an “irresponsible” drive-by to wave to his supporters congregating outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland where he is receiving treatment after contracting the coronavirus. Among those attacking the US president – who claimed to to have “learned a lot about COVID” since his admission to hospital – was Dr James P Phillips, a physician at Walter Reed, who blamed him for endangering the lives of those who took part. 

That’s all for the start of the week – don’t forget to inform yourself about digitalization here and register for EAPM’s 12 October conference here, where many of the issues highlighted above will be discussed. 



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