Agreement expected on simple traffic light approach to travel across the EU

Greetings colleagues, and welcome to the first European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) update of the week. The autumn weather is drawing in, and COVID-19 restrictions appear to be proliferating, but there is thankfully much good news in the health arena, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

Over and Above: EU Beyond 1 Million Genomes (B1MG) Stakeholders Co-ordination meeting on 21 October, register now

On 21 October, we will be organizing an external meeting for the EU Beyond 1 Million Genomes (B1MG) Stakeholders Co-ordination, which will take place at 8-16h BST/9-17h CET. Register here and read the full agenda here.

The aim of Beyond 1 Million Genomes (B1MG) is to establish the support and coordination structure for the European 1+ Million Genomes initiative (1+MG), which is based upon the commitment of 22 European member states and Norway that have signed the Declaration ‘Towards access to at least 1 million sequenced genomes in the EU by 2022’. 

The purpose of the meeting is to set the framework for engagement through the lens of the Working Packages which include sessions that address the topics of:  Session 1: Setting the Framework for Co-operation; Session II: Ethics, Legal, Societal Impact; Session III: Standards & Quality Guidelines; Session IV:  Federated Secure Cross-border Technical Infrastructure; Session V: Session V: Delivering Personalised Medicine cross-borders: Implementation in Health Care Systems and Societal Impact and finally, Session VI: Communication, Governance and Sustainability. 

EAPM will of course be providing updates and full reportage on the meeting. Register here and read the full agenda here.

EAPM German EU Presidency Conference

On Monday (12 October), more than 200 delegates were in attendance at EAPM’s virtual conference. The event, entitled ‘Ensuring Access to Innovation and Data-rich Biomarker Space to Speed Better Quality of Care for Citizens’, was a great success, with many notable contributions from keynote speakers that truly succeeded in pushing the personalised health debate and discussion forward.

There were contributions from more than 15 European politicians, as well as notable input from the European Commission, European Medicine Agency (EMA) and a multitude of key stakeholders from countries including Germany, which is presently hosting the EU Presidency. Look out for a full report later in the week. 

ENVI adopts all EU4Health compromise amendments

The European Parliament’s health committee has passed all compromise amendments for the EU4Health programme. The amendments establish that the Parliament will campaign from €9.4billion — which was the budget originally proposed by the Commission — for the programme, after the Council reduced this to €1.7 billion during budget talks in summer. The health committee’s report sets the Parliament and Commission on the same side of negotiations against the Council. The vote, planned for Monday (12 October), was delayed until this morning due to technical difficulties. 

Kyriakides sees ‘good co-ordination’ on coronavirus border rules

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides is citing good co-ordination among countries, citing the new agreement on border rules: “The more harmonization we have, the more we’re able to deal with this crisis,” she said. However, Kyriakides stressed that she wants more EU in health. “This is why the Commission proposed an ambitious EU4Health programme to tackle cross border health threats,” she said. 

European health union plans to be unveiled on 11 November

The Commission will propose its new plans for a European health union on November 11, according to a new College of Commissioners agenda. The agenda shows four proposals scheduled for 11 November, including a plan for “building a European health union: preparedness and resilience”, proposing a regulation on handling serious cross-border health threats and mandate changes for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Commission’s pharmaceutical strategy is nevertheless scheduled for 24 November, and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan for 9 December.

WHO head criticizes ‘herd immunity’ approach 

The head of the World Health Organization has ruled out a herd immunity response to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease through vaccinations or through the mass spread of a disease. Some have argued that coronavirus should be allowed to spread naturally in the absence of a vaccine. But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said such an approach was “scientifically and ethically problematic”. Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Dr Tedros argued that the long-term impacts of coronavirus – as well as the strength and duration any immune response – remained unknown. “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said.

Coronavirus travel restrictions – EU ministers agree first step

EU countries have agreed to common criteria and risk assessments that will be used to create a color-coded map labeling the bloc’s areas of coronavirus low-risk (green), medium-risk (orange), high-risk (red) or unknown (gray). Travel to or from green areas would not be restricted.

The deal is a “first step, which of course must also be followed by others,” Germany’s Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said ahead of the General Affairs Council meeting, stressing that the principles of the Schengen open border area and the internal market must be upheld as much as possible.

The Commission welcomed the agreement: “The coming together of member states sends a strong signal to citizens and is a clear example of the EU acting where it absolutely should,” it said.

Tougher restrictions for London ‘inevitable’ in ‘next few days’ 

It is “inevitable” that London will pass a “trigger point” to enter tougher coronavirus restrictions in the “next few days”, Sadiq Khan has said. “All the indicators I have, hospital admissions, ICU occupancy, the numbers of older people with cases, the prevalence of the disease, the positivity are all going the wrong direction,” the London mayor said. “Which means, I’m afraid, it’s inevitable over the course of the next few days London will have passed a trigger point to be in the second tier.” The capital is currently in Tier 1 of the government’s three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions, which means an alert level of ‘medium’. 

And that’s all for now from EAPM – enjoy your week, stay safe, and look out for our report on the EAPM conference over the next few days.  Once again, register here and read the full agenda for the Beyond 1 Million Genomes (B1MG).

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