Welcome, one and all, to the third update of the week from the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM). A busy week ahead for the Alliance, with its key conference upon us on Monday (12 October), writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.
Conference upon us on 12 October – Reaching consensus
And the upcoming EAPM German EU Presidency Conference, just a few days away on 12 October, will certainly be hoping to offer clear thinking on the vital issues concerning COVID-19. There will be more than 200 registrants from across the political spectrum, as well as from the key stakeholder groups, and the keynote speakers will doubtless acknowledge that health systems must include several multidimensional and interacting pillars, and each of these pillars must be strengthened and reinforced.
EAPM would assert that dogma and rigid ideology are rarely useful when it comes to public policy or, for that matter, pragmatic approaches when it comes to running health services. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a growing tendency in public discourse to polarize opinions on health care and policy, between health factions that have seemingly irreconcilable views.
However, as with all things, there is truth on both sides, and it should be possible to hold two (or more) positions at once. But social media, populist politics, and hyperbole can make life hard for people who embrace moderation and balance – the crucial issue is how to rationally allocate resources in society for the benefit of patients. As it is a ‘virtual’ conference, there is no limit to numbers, so there is still time to register now. Please find the link here to register and the agenda is here.
EU4Health programme – Parliament pushes for €9.4 billion
The European Parliament wants to restore the €9.4 billion originally planned for the EU’s health program in the EU budget. The health committee will vote on the draft amendments on Monday.
Back to work in Strasbourg
MEPs are set to return to Strasbourg later in October after the number of coronavirus cases in the Alsatian city decreased, according to two senior European Parliament officials. David Sassoli, the Parliament president, is “due to announce soon that the Strasbourg session will resume on 19 October,” one of the senior officials said. There will be some restrictions, with just one assistant allowed per MEP and fewer group officials. And Sassoli is hoping to be able to travel to Strasbourg by the next session: “I am fine and have no symptoms,” he tweeted on 8 October.
Care homes controversy
This morning (9 October), MEPs will debate the impact of the coronavirus on long-term care facilities. In July, they requested a Parliamentary investigation on the issue of care home deaths, and MEPs want answers on the high elderly death toll. “We’re going to shine a light on this situation, one that cannot be ignored or considered irrelevant,” said Italian S&D MEP Pierfrancesco Majorino, one of the sponsors of the original statement, speaking to Morning Health Care.
The European Parliament’s cancer committee will hold its first substantive meeting on Monday, during which there’ll be an exchange of views with cancer report rapporteur MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, who is aiming to get a working document to the Commission before December to provide the Parliament’s input on the cancer plan ahead of publication. The committee also plans to meet with Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on 27 October.
EU under pressure to co-ordinate pandemic response
Political pressure is growing for European governments to tackle the rising number of coronavirus case without resorting to a spring-style lockdown that would hit the continent’s struggling economies. Data released by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control showed five countries in the region with more than 120 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days. Spain was ranked top of the grim table, with almost all of its regions colored crimson on a map that also showed swathes of dark red spreading across southern France, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania.
Test and trace tribulations
The new National Institute for Health Protection chief has not yet replied to a request from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee concerning more information on the UK’s test and trace programme.
Former business secretary Greg Clark wrote a testy letter to Dido Harding on Thursday (8 October), saying that the 6 October deadline had now passed. “We have now passed that generous deadline and I am disappointed to have not received a response,” Clark wrote, adding that there “continue to be serious concerns” about the programme, and he is seeking more information following a data glitch that left thousands of coronavirus cases not being recorded. Harding now has until Monday to respond.
Spain restrictions’ issues
The Madrid High Court on Thursday dismissed the health ministry’s coronavirus restrictions on the basis the measures infringe on citizens’ fundamental rights, according to daily El Pais.
France seeks to move health data held by Microsoft onto EU platforms
France wants to relocate health data on French citizens that is currently being hosted on Microsoft servers onto French or European platforms, the country’s junior minister for digital affairs has said. “We are working with [Health Minister] Olivier Véran, after the thunderous cancellation of the Privacy Shield, to transfer the Health Data Hub to French or European platforms,” a Senate hearing heard.
Italy on ‘a razor’s edge’
The coronavirus pandemic took another leap in Italy this Thursday, with a total of 4,458 infected in 24 hours, with a notable increase compared to the 3,678 on Thursday and 2,677 on Tuesday. The official bulletin with the main data of the day also indicated that 22 deaths were registered with a decrease compared to the 31 deaths on Thursday.
“We are on the razor’s edge … If we do not intervene quickly, in two or three weeks we risk falling to the levels of France, Spain and Great Britain, even with 16 thousand infected daily,” said scientist Walter Ricciardi, who is the main advisor to Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
Ireland coronavirus restrictions
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has urged the UK Prime Minister to financially support Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 restrictions. He discussed the rising numbers of cases on both sides of the Irish border with Boris Johnson this morning. He said: “I made a very strong point to the British Prime Minister this morning that the situation is very, very worrying in terms of the growing numbers in Northern Ireland and that they needed support, that the Northern Ireland Executive needed support, and that if he could give consideration in terms of financial support to underpin any efforts or any restrictions that they themselves might decide to bring in.”
And that is everything for this week. The lion’s share of the above issues will of course be highlighted in the EAPM German EU Presidency Conference on Monday – have a safe and enjoyable weekend, don’t forget to register here , the agenda is here.