EU Plans to Create New Body to Fight Future Pandemics and Health Crises

EU | September 14, 2021, Tuesday // 14:45|  views

European Commission’s proposed new authority to prepare against future health crises by developing “medical countermeasures.”

Tasks and powers of the new Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) will be detailed in a decision to be discussed today (14 September) at a meeting of the 27-strong College of Commissioners.

It will then formally be adopted on Thursday (16 September), when the proposal is expected to be unveiled.

Already announced in February, the HERA will become a key actor in strengthening Europe’s ability to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to cross-border health emergencies.

“COVID-19 will not be the world’s last public health emergency, nor will it necessarily be the worst,” the EU executive writes in the communication, underlining the importance of improving preparedness to address “ongoing and increasing risks, not only of pandemics but also of threats such as bioterrorism.”

The announcement of HERA, which will become fully operational by early 2022 after a short transitional phase, is expected to be one of the main highlights of the State of the Union address which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will deliver before the European Parliament on Wednesday (15 September).

The new authority will be essentially tasked with “the development, manufacturing, procurement, and equitable distribution of key medical countermeasures.”

Vaccines, antibiotics, medical equipment, chemical antidotes, therapeutics, diagnostic tests and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and masks, are listed as “medical countermeasures” in the Commission’s proposal.

Its main missions will be to strengthen coordination between the EU and member states in both preparedness and crisis response, as well as addressing vulnerabilities and strategic dependencies within the EU related to the development, production, procurement, stockpiling and distribution of medical countermeasures./Euractiv

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