EU Outlines Future Pandemic Plan, Including Mfg
The European Commission (EC) has outlined a plan for future pandemic preparedness, which also includes a plan to ensure vaccine-manufacturing capacity in the European Union (EU).
“We are entering another phase of the pandemic,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety at the European Commission, at a press conference this week (April 27, 2022) in outlining the new plan. “A new phase that requires us to rethink how we manage the virus. This is why we are today presenting a new approach and are setting out actions to help us all to ‘look ahead’ and move from emergency to a more sustainable management of the pandemic. As we have said many times since the beginning of the pandemic, preparedness is key. What we are proposing to Member States is actions geared towards changing how we manage the current phase and ensuring that we are ready to react quickly if the situation changes again.”
The plan involves four main areas: (1) establishing integrated, sustainable, year-round surveillance systems for all acute respiratory illnesses, covering not only COVID-19, but also influenza and other respiratory viruses; (2) focusing on improved resiliency of national healthcare systems so EU member states are ready for possibly increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19 or seasonal influenza; (3) continuing administration of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to EU member states and securing manufacturing capacities for vaccines and other medical countermeasures in Europe; and (4) strengthening overall pandemic preparedness.
A key part of the plan is securing manufacturing capacity in the EU for vaccines and other medical countermeasures. As part of its preparedness plan, the European Commission announced the launch of EU FAB, a network of production capacity for vaccines to ensure sufficient and agile manufacturing capacities for different vaccine types are kept operational and can be readily activated in times of crisis. “While vaccine production capacity currently meets demand, vigilance remains needed for supply chain bottlenecks, not only for vaccines, but also for other medical countermeasures and their input materials,” said the European Commission in a communication document from the European Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions. The Commission also reiterated that collaboration with global partners continues, such as through the Joint EU-US Taskforce on COVID Manufacturing and Supply Chains, which was established last year (September 2021) to support vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing and distribution and overcome supply-chain challenges.
Beyond the health industrial ecosystem, the European Commission points to the need for further vigilance in the next phases of the pandemic on supply challenges in other industrial ecosystems, such as from local lockdowns or staff shortages on logistics, adding close collaboration with stakeholders across industrial ecosystems remains important.