The European Commission published on September 18 a set of recommendations for a common Covid-19 testing approach in Europe, as a follow-up initiative of the 15 July Communication on Short-Term EU Health Preparedness for Covid-19 Outbreaks.
The recommendations set out concrete actions to support countries in the planning and organisation of their testing efforts during the different stages of the pandemic.
The recommendations have been endorsed by the Health Security Committee, in view of streamlining national approaches and ensuring more coherent Covid-19 testing across the EU., the Commission said.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides said: “Testing and contact tracing are essential aspects of an effective response to Covid-19 and for ensuring that the spread of the virus is kept to a minimum.
“In view of the upcoming influenza season, during which the number of people showing Covid-19 compatible symptoms is expected to increase, it is more important than ever that all member states have effective and robust testing strategies in place. These recommendations will help member states to improve early detection of infected persons and ensure a better overview of infection rates and transmission,” she said.
In a separate statement on September 18, the EC said that the EU is providing financial support to 18 EU countries and the UK to transport essential medical items to Europe with funding totalling 150 million euro, through the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI).
ESI has allowed the EU to finance cargo shipments between April and September 2020, including life-saving personal protective equipment, medicines and medical equipment, the EC said.
For example, it supported the transport of a shared shipment of more than 1000 tons of essential personal protective equipment to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Under this instrument, the EU also financed the transport of more than 1000 tons of personal protective equipment bought by the Italian Extraordinary Commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, and more than 400 tons of goggles, disposable gowns, masks and protective clothing to Lithuania by plane and train.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said: “We continue to support our EU member states to be better prepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have financed the transportation of essential medical supplies across the EU. The items were delivered where they were needed the most and have boosted national efforts to save lives and better equip hospitals and healthcare workers,” Lenarčič said.
In another statement, the Commission said that on September 18 it had confirmed its participation in the COVAX Facility for equitable access to affordable Covid-19 vaccines, following its expression of interest on August 31 and its announcement of a contribution of 400 million euro.
“In a joint effort between the European Commission and the 27 EU member states, Team Europe will contribute with an initial 230 million euro in cash through a loan from the European Investment Bank, backed by the same amount in guarantees provided by the EU budget.
“A contribution of 230 million euro is equivalent to reserves or options to buy 88 million doses and the EU would transfer these to eligible Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) countries,” the Commission said.
This contribution is complemented with 170 million euro in financial guarantees from the EU budget.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “It is not enough to find a vaccine. We must make sure that citizens around the world have access to it. Our strong commitment to the COVAX Facility is an another sign to all citizens who need the vaccine that we stand with them, wherever they are. No one is safe until everyone is safe”.
In a separate statement, the Commission announced that it will support with 15.7 million euro an ambitious new research initiative, EU-RESPONSE, which will establish a clinical research network to treat Covid-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.
The funding is part of the Commission’s 1.4 billion euro pledge, for which a billion euro comes from Horizon 2020, for coronavirus research and innovation directed towards the development of vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of the virus, the statement said.
(Photo: Bulgaria’s Military Medical Academy)
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