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#EAPM - Mark your card for upcoming Alliance events for ESMO Congress in September and Presidency Conference for October

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Welcome one and all to the last update of this week – the weekend is so near you can taste it, and here’s some news of what the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) has coming up for you in the weeks and months ahead.  Also, in the case that you missed it: here is a link to our report from our Global Conference entitled ‘1st EAPM Global Conference:  ‘Forward Together- Where we are now and the necessary next steps for a resilient healthcare System: effective ways of investing in health- care in a COVID 19 and Post-COVID 19 world’, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

Don’t shake hands or hug...yet

Two epidemiologists have been busy this week, issuing warnings – while slow steps are being taken to gradually remove life restrictions in the wake of the pandemic, we should not be casually hugging again yet, and one of the experts, Erika Vlieghe is also still strongly recommending against even shaking hands. 

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Italy pauses to remember

On Thursday (23 July) the Italian parliament’s lower chamber voted on a new draft law to make 18 March of every year the national day to remember the victims of the coronavirus epidemic. A moment of silence will be observed in all public spaces, and people may donate money to a scientific research fund, according to Quotidiano Sanita.  “It will be an important day not to forget this dramatic time and to remember all the people who are no longer with us,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza tweeted after the law passed. 

ESMO and German Presidency conference  

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In the second half of 2020, EAPM has another two big events coming your way – for the 8th year in succession, EAPM will be present at the prestigious ESMO Congress and will, for the fifth time, be hosting a satellite meeting as part of the events. In the same way as our own recent events, the focus will be on bringing innovation into health-care systems, but with very specific items on the Alliance agenda, which will be on the issue of biomarkers and molecular diagnostics. EAPM’s roundtable is currently scheduled to take place on 18 September (at the premier oncology gathering in Madrid, Spain). Registration will open for this next week.

Hopefully, by mid-September, life will at least be beginning to get back to something approaching normal. One thing is absolutely certain, the situation caused by the novel coronavirus, it’s effect on EU health-care systems, and the fall-out going forward, will be among the hottest topics. 

And on 13 October, the German Presidency conference will be the third Presidency conference that EAPM will be holding during 2020 – during the Croatia Presidency, a bridging conference between the Croatia and Germany presidencies, and this final event while Germany is at the helm. All three events reflect the nature of the relative presidency policies in the health-care arena, but also act as major events during what will be the first full year of the two new legislative bodies – the European Parliament and the European Commission.  

And, of course, since the start of the year we have been dealing with impact and fall out of the COVID-19 crisis. We need to look ahead to try and understand what a post-COVID world will mean for health-care readiness and sustainability, health-data gathering and sharing, cancer treatments and personalised medicine.  Then there is the question of adequate resources being available and, of course, successful implementation.  

The optimal use of relevant data is clearly a huge issue as we attempt to optimize health care down the line, and there is clearly a need for better access to information, in order that resources can be more rationally allocated.  Other issues that have arisen during the current crisis are those surrounding the need for increased cross-border coordination and co-operation among member states, and adequate capacity –  given an ageing population and the fact that the novel coronavirus will not be our last pandemic. More information will be available on these two major events in the weeks ahead. 

Health cuts hit hard

In a plenary session in the European Parliament MEPs discussed a resolution that challenges “the Council to justify the massive reductions in the budgets of ReactEU, Horizon Europe, EU4health and the NDICI in the context of the pandemic”.  The €7.7 billion cut to the health programme and a separate €13.5 billion cut to the research programme are “dangerous” in the middle of a global pandemic, according to the authors of the resolution. 

Harsh words

MEP Christian Ehler, the EPP Group Spokesman in the Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, was certainly forthright on Wednesday (22 July): “The announced severe cuts on research, innovation, health and climate change will only mean one thing,” he said. “Europe will leave the playground to the other big players; notably the US and China.”    

And the European Parliament is threatening to veto the Council’s budget agreement in order to get some changes to the deal. MEPs didn’t hold back  on the Council cuts – members predominantly from the EPP and Greens pushed back against the agreement that slashed EU4Health funding from €9.4 billion to €1.7bn. Belgium’s Petra De Sutter, from the Greens, warned that Europe might be seeing a second wave soon. As a doctor, she said, she can’t “explain to … colleagues why the member states did not understand this as a priority”.

Will Belgium get tougher on pandemic restrictions? 

Belgium’s national security council is meeting today (24 July) to decide on the next steps in response to the pandemic, following a rise in cases in the country, and there will be no new relaxation as of 1 Augus, as initially planned, Health Minister Maggie De Block said on Tuesday (21 July). People coming back to Belgium from countries outside of the Schengen zone are partly to blame for the rise, according to Karine Moykens, chairwoman of the Inter-Federal Testing & Tracing Committee, RTBF reported. “”Some are unaware and others do not want to be quarantined when they return from countries outside the Schengen area,” she said.  

And that is all for this week – look out for EAPM’s newsletter early next week and, until then, have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

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Commission approves €1.8 million Latvian scheme to support cattle farmers affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €1.8 million Latvian scheme to support farmers active in the cattle-breeding sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The measure aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that the beneficiaries are facing and at addressing part of the losses they incurred due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Latvian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions of the Temporary Framework.

In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €225,000 per beneficiary; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64541 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission approves €500,000 Portuguese scheme to further support the passenger transport sector in Azores in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €500,000 Portuguese scheme to further support the passenger transport sector in the Region of the Azores in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. It follows another Portuguese scheme to support the passenger transport sector in Azores that the Commission approved on 4 June 2021 (SA.63010). Under the new scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The measure will be open to collective passenger transport companies of all sizes active in the Azores. The purpose of the measure is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing and to address losses incurred over 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus.

The Commission found that the Portuguese scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64599 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission authorizes French aid scheme of €3 billion to support, through loans and equity investments, companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic

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The European Commission has cleared, under EU state aid rules, France's plans to set up a € 3 billion fund that will invest through debt instruments and equity and hybrid instruments in companies affected by the pandemic. The measure was authorized under the Temporary State Aid Framework. The scheme will be implemented through a fund, titled 'Transition Fund for Businesses Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic', with a budget of € 3bn.

Under this scheme, support will take the form of (i) subordinated or participating loans; and (ii) recapitalization measures, in particular hybrid capital instruments and non-voting preferred shares. The measure is open to companies established in France and present in all sectors (except the financial sector), which were viable before the coronavirus pandemic and which have demonstrated the long-term viability of their economic model. Between 50 and 100 companies are expected to benefit from this scheme. The Commission considered that the measures complied with the conditions set out in the temporary framework.

The Commission concluded that the measure was necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of France, in accordance with Article 107 (3) (b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the temporary supervision. On this basis, the Commission authorized these schemes under EU state aid rules.

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Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager (pictured), competition policy, said: “This €3bn recapitalization scheme will allow France to support companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic by facilitating their access funding in these difficult times. We continue to work closely with member states to find practical solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic while respecting EU regulations.”

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