Estonia has started a program to recruit and genotype 100,000 new biobank participants as part of its National Personalized Medicine programme.
The government wants to develop its health-care system by offering all its residents genome-wide genotyping that will be translated into personalized reports for use in everyday medical practice through the national e-health portal. The country has many encrypted digital solutions incorporated into government functions that link the nation’s various databases through end-to-end encrypted pathways.
The initiative is a joint development project of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Institute for Health Development and the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu, which has maintained and studied the DNA of the nation’s first 50,000 biobank participants.
International efforts have identified thousands of associations between genetic variants and diseases or traits, and created maps of the unique variation within populations.
"Today we have enough knowledge about both the genetic risk of complex diseases and the interindividual variability of the effects of medicines in order to start using this information systematically in everyday healthcare," said Jevgeni Ossinovski, minister of health and labour. "In co-operation with the National Institute for Health Development and the University of Tartu, we will enable another 100,000 people to join the Estonian biobank, in order to boost the development of personalized medicine in Estonia and thus contribute to the advancement of preventive health care."
Paula Dowdy, senior vice president and general manager, Illumina, Europe, Middle East, and Africa said: “As the technology provider for the Estonian Genome Center, Illumina is delighted that this ambitious project has reached this stage. Using our InfiniumTM Global Screening Array to further develop personalized medicine in Estonia will provide physicians with genomic information that will lead to better health outcomes in the future.”
The Estonian Government has allocated 5 million euros for the initiative during 2018. The project will be coordinated by the National Institute for Health Development, whose task is to develop and implement procedures and principles for the effective implementation of scientific research in medicinal practice.
Andres Metspalu, director of the Estonian Genome Center at the University of Tartu, welcomes the initiative of the Ministry of Social Affairs to increase the number of biobank participants. "We are glad that with the support of this project the results of the long-term work of the Genome Center will be transferred into practical medicine, and it will also give a further boost for our future research. The university will also contribute to the creation of a feedback system for the biobank participants, and to training healthcare professionals to give patients feedback based on genetic information.”
The project will be implemented on the basis of the Estonian Human Genes Research Act and the same broad consent form that was used for the first 50,000 participants. Today, local press was invited for the launch of the online portal where the consent form can be signed electronically, and journalists were also given a chance to donate blood on site. The official sample collection will start on 2 April 2018.
SURE: Commission welcomes Council decision to approve €230 million to Estonia
The European Commission welcomes the Council's decision to approve its proposal to provide €230 million in financial assistance to Estonia under the SURE instrument. This support will assist Estonia in covering the costs related to its short-time work scheme, other similar measures, and some health-related measures that have been introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council has now approved a total of €90.6 billion in financial assistance to 19 Member States, based on proposals from the Commission. SURE is a crucial element of the EU's comprehensive strategy to protect jobs and workers, and mitigate the severely negative socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. The Commission has already disbursed €62.5bn to 16 Member States under SURE, and it expects to undertake most of the remaining borrowing operations in the first half of 2021.
Commission proposes to provide €230 million to Estonia under SURE
The European Commission has presented a proposal to the Council for a decision to grant €230 million in financial support to Estonia under the SURE instrument. The proposal brings overall financial support proposed under SURE to a total of €90.6 billion and covering 19 member states. Once the Council approves this proposal, the financial support will be provided in the form of loans granted on favourable terms. These loans will assist Estonia in covering the costs related to its short-time work scheme and other similar measures that have been introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
SURE is a crucial element of the EU's comprehensive strategy to protect jobs and workers, and mitigate the severely negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The Commission has already disbursed €53.5 billion to 15 member states under SURE, and it expects to undertake most of the remaining borrowing operations in the first half of 2021. Member states can still submit formal requests, including for top-ups in response to the second wave of the pandemic, for support under SURE, which has an overall firepower of up to €100 billion.
Former MEP Kaja Kallas to become Estonia’s first female prime minister
The new coalition government was formed after Estonia’s previous prime minister Juri Ratas and his cabinet resigned on January 13 in the wake of a corruption scandal involving a key party official.
Kallas’ appointment will not only make history by giving the country its first female prime minister, but it will also make Estonia the only country in the world where both the prime minister and the president (Kersti Kaljulaid) are women.
Danish Renew Europe MEP Karen Melchior also pointed out the gender balance of the new government, saying, “Congratulations on the equality reach of the new Estonian government, there are 7 women ministers out of 15, and Prime Minister is Kaja Kallas.”
Many other former colleagues at the European Parliament extended their congratulations and best wishes to Kallas on hearing the news.
Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloș said, “Congratulations and best wishes to Kaja Kallas, the new Renew Europe and first ever female Prime Minister of Estonia. I look forward to working with you for a strong Estonia at the heart of a stronger European Union.”
Hungarian member Katalin Cseh said, “Congratulations to Kaja Kallas, the trailblazing first female Prime Minister of Estonia, leader of a new gender-balanced government and a key ally in our quest to Renew Europe.”
Parliament Vice-President and EPP member Roberta Metsola said, “In Kaja Kallas Estonia gets not only its first female Prime Minister and a committed European leader, but one of the very best people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Well done Estonia. Good luck Kaja!”
Estonian S&D MEP Marina Kaljurand said that Kaja Kallas’ government has not yet taken office and is already making history, not only with Kallas becoming the country’s first female prime minister, “but even more important than one position is that half of the members of the government are women.”
Dutch deputy Sophie in 't Veld said, “Congratulations to the new Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, adding, “Best wishes to the new, gender-balanced, pro-European, reform-minded government!”
Finnish member Nils Torvalds said, “Congratulations Kaja Kallas, my good friend, on forming a government in Estonia! I knew this would happen the day you left the European Parliament.”
Czech MEP Dita Charanzová said, “Congratulations to my former colleague and IMCO ally in the EP Kaja Kallas - the first female Prime Minister of Estonia! All my best wishes to you in your new role.
Former Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake said, “Great news from Estonia! Incredibly proud of my friend and former colleague Kaja Kallas - first female Prime Minister, assembled a coalition under very challenging circumstances.”
Romanian member Nicu Ștefănuță said, “I worked with Kaja Kallas when she was an active member of the EP US Delegation. Happy she will now lead Estonia. Trust her leadership.”
EPP MEP Eva Maydell said, “Congratulations to my former colleague and dear friend Kaja Kallas on becoming the first female PM of Estonia and on the formation of the cabinet! Wishing you the best of success!”
Adrián Vázquez Lázara said, “Congratulations to the new Prime Minister of Estonia, our colleague Kaja Kallas,” adding, “A new young European leader for the liberal family to bring reform and foster the idea a of a stronger Europe. Best of luck!”
Belgian member Hilde Vautmans celebrated the “historic moment,” adding, “Kaja Kallas, a former colleague, will be the first woman to make it to prime minister in Estonia. Congratulations and all the best for the future. Renew Europe is proud of you.”
German Greens MEP Terry Reintke said, “Congratulations Kaja Kallas. I wish you success - especially in the fight for rule of law and equality.”
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