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EAPM: COVID cases fall but Europe prepares for fourth wave

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Good morning, health colleagues, and welcome to the second European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) update of the week, before the August break, but EAPM will be with you throughout summer, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

Deadline for orphan and pediatric consultation 

Today (30 July) is the deadline for the public consultation on the revision of EU rules on medicines for children and rare diseases — and the process has been ongoing, in November 2020, the Commission published an inception impact assessment evaluating proposals to change EU regulations for medicines for rare diseases and for children. The Commission concluded that the orphan regulation has had a positive impact by adding 210,000-440,000 quality-adjusted life years for patients in the EU despite increasing costs by €23 billion from 2000-2017. Nearly three quarters (73%) of orphan medicines had annual sales of less than €50 million in the European Economic Area, while only 14% had annual sales over €100 million. The report found that orphan medicines on average received an additional 3.4 years of market exclusivity, which equates to about 30% of sales revenue for those products. While some sponsors may have been “overcompensated,” the Commission says that the additional market exclusivity “has helped to increase profitability, without giving the sponsor an unbalanced compensation” in most cases. The evaluation also looks at whether the current threshold of affecting fewer than 5 in 10,000 patients in the EU “is the right tool” for defining rare diseases.

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EIF looks to decentralized software architecture

Fabric Ventures, a venture manager that backs ‘open economy’ founders across the globe, has today (30 July) announced Europe’s biggest fund of its type, valued at $130 million, which includes $30 million from the European Investment Fund (EIF). Fabric Ventures’ 2021 fund is the very first EIF-backed fund specifically mandated to invest in digital assets. It will back traditional equity as well as the software tokens and other digital assets native to these new, inclusive and collaborative networks and applications. These are all underpinned by the recent invention of digital scarcity and hence ownership. The founders of the open economy frequently have the explicit objective of delivering solutions to many of humanity’s most fundamental challenges, particularly health concerns.

Third vaccine doses set to begin

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European countries have yet to start rolling out booster shots, although several countries have said they plan to — including Hungary, which is set to start on Sunday (1 August). Last week, Israel published data indicating that the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could drop to 39%.The data has added further fuel to Israel’s justification to give a third dose.  Hungary would become the first EU country to offer a booster if it also goes ahead with plans to start offering the shot on Sunday. Alongside BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and J&J vaccines, Hungary has also used Sputnik V vaccines and jabs from China’s Sinopharm. It’s unclear which vaccine would be used as a booster shot. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are increasing due to Delta

The surge in COVID-19 cases fuelled by the Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy has now led to increasing rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the average number of new COVID-19 cases each day in the past week was 32,278. That's a 66% jump from the average daily rate the previous week, and 145% higher than the rate from two weeks ago. There's a common theme among those behind the worsening COVID-19 numbers, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Walensky said at a COVID-19 briefing.

Austria to set out guidelines on ‘long’ COVID

Austria is setting out new guidelines for long COVID, with doctors set to receive advice on identifying and treating patients. The health ministry said that current estimates indicate that 10-20% of all people infected with coronavirus could have long-term consequences. The announcement comes as countries look to provide more support for patients who are still living with side effects long after having recovered from the virus.

Germany's divided over pandemic strategy

German Health Minister Jens Spahn rebutted experts at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), who have been arguing that the infection rate should remain the leading indicator for pandemic management. Spahn argued that increasing levels of immunization mean that the rate of infections is less meaningful than it used to be. What’s needed are “additional data points to assess the situation” Spahn said, adding as an example the “number of newly admitted [COVID-19] patients in hospitals”. That rate has recently been rising again, but like elsewhere in Europe, hospitalizations are well below the peaks from the pandemic. That led Spahn to recently proclaim that a higher cut-off is now acceptable because infections lead to far fewer hospitalizations than they used to, and therefore fresh lockdown measures are not needed. Spahn’s position also aligns him with some of Germany’s state premiers, who disagree with Wieler and want to keep the economy as open as possible.

EU faces difficulties in repaying recovery fund's joint debt

The European Commission will shortly start transferring billions in grants and loans to EU member countries under its €750 billion pandemic recovery fund — but its plan to repay the borrowings through new levies at the EU level is unraveling.

The recovery fund — known as Next Generation EU — came together last summer after EU leaders reached an unprecedented agreement to issue hundreds of billions in joint debt to help the bloc’s economy get through the COVID-19 crisis. But the details of reimbursement, which will stretch over three decades, were left to the Commission to propose.  

Should all EU attempts to generate the revenue fail to deliver the needed sum of €15 billion a year, countries will have to cough up increased amounts for the EU’s budget starting from the next budget cycle in 2028 — a highly unpalatable option for countries in Northern Europe that are net contributors to the bloc’s budget. Another option is cutting programs, which in turn would upset net beneficiaries of EU funds like Central and Eastern European countries.

Taxing the behemoths

Mammoth digital services companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are practised and skilled in the art of manipulating global tax laws - entirely legally, it should be said - to pay as little tax as possible.

There is a growing consensus that these humungous entities, whose borderless products can earn hundreds of millions in revenue while maintaining a skeleton staff on shore, are skirting their obligations.

Numerous ideas have been floated to force these corporations to pay more: Australia and the UK introduced 'Google taxes', aimed at forcing companies that channel their profits through offshore administrations to pay a higher tax rate.

Earlier in July, the G20 and OECD unveiled a new idea - to introduce a global minimum tax rate of 15%, thus enabling millions to be raised for essential services such as health.

Fourth coronavirus wave in Europe

Europe is dealing with the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India, which is threatening to prolong the pandemic and derail economic recovery. Authorities are stepping up efforts to facilitate mass vaccination and are ramping up outreach to those who have not made appointments. After a year-and-a-half of relentless fighting against the disease, coronavirus is showing tenacity while a fourth wave of contamination has started and is expected to make European ICUs very busy again in the fall.

Good news to finish: Cases fall dramatically in UK

Cases are falling dramatically in the UK — and epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told BBC Radio 4 that vaccines had changed the threat of COVID-19. “The effect of vaccines is hugely reducing the risk of hospitalizations and death, and I’m positive that by late September or October-time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic,” he said.

That is all from EAPM for now – during August, EAPM will be doing one update per week, so make sure you stay safe and well and have an excellent weekend.

European Alliance for Personalised Medicine

HERA and Digital Markets Act point way forward for EU health

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Good afternoon, health colleagues, and welcome to the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) update – EAPM held a very succesful conference concerning cancer on 18 September last week, ‘The need for change: Defining the health-care ecosystem to determine value’, with more than 167 delegates in attendance, and a report will be issued next week, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

HERA or HERO!

The EU has created a crisis health authority to deal with future pandemics across the continent. The new Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) is designed to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to health emergencies. According to the Commission: “HERA will anticipate threats and potential health crises, through intelligence gathering and building the necessary response capacities. 

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When an emergency hits, HERA will ensure the development, production and distribution of medicines, vaccines and other medical countermeasures – such as gloves and masks – that were often lacking during the first phase of the coronavirus response.”

 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “HERA is another building block of a stronger Health Union and a major step forward for our crisis preparedness. With HERA, we will make sure we have the medical equipment we need to protect our citizens from future health threats. 

HERA will be able to make swift decisions to safeguard supplies. This is what I promised back in 2020, and this is what we deliver.” HERA activities will rely on a budget of €6 billion from the current Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2022-2027, part of which will come from the NextGenerationEU top-up.

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EU innovation fragmentation

EU security research is one of the building blocks of the Security Union. It enables innovation in technologies and knowledge that is crucial for developing capabilities to address today's security challenges, to anticipating tomorrow's threats and contributing to a more competitive European security industry. 

The Commission has decided to initiate a series of actions which will enhance the competitiveness of the European security industry and contribute to meeting the aims of the European security policy. In terms of overcoming the fragmentation of the EU security markets for security technologies, without the involvement, commitment and investment of the EU’s security technology and industrial base, innovative solutions would remain trapped in endless cycles of research and would never be deployed on the field.

Therefore, the consolidation of a single EU security market that increases the competitiveness of the industrial base is a primary objective. This consolidation would not only guarantee the security of supply for strategic technologies, but also safeguard, when required, the strategic autonomy of the EU for technologies, services and systems that are critical to ensuring the protection of EU citizens.

Cancer patients ‘protected by coronavirus vaccines’

Vaccinations against COVID are as effective and safe for people with cancer as for those without cancer, new studies suggest. Cancer patients have an “appropriate, protective immune response” to the jabs without “any more side-effects than the general population,” according to the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). 

The researchers said that the studies show there is a need to promote vaccination in patients with cancer. The studies were carried out because people with cancer were excluded from vaccine clinical trials, due to their weaker immune systems as a result of undergoing anti-cancer treatments. Scientists said that a “multitude of studies” with similar conclusions will be presented today (21 September) at the annual ESMO Congress. 

An analysis of 3,813 participants with a history of past or active cancer in a randomised controlled trial of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine shows that the most common side-effects of vaccination were as mild – and occurred at a similar frequency – as within the overall trial population of more than 44,000 people.

Making the Digital Markets Act Fit for the Digital Age 

EU lawmakers are drafting a raft of important new regulations which will impact Europe’s digitising economy for decades to come. One of these proposals is the Digital Markets Act (DMA), expected to be adopted in the next term. 

Thousands of amendments were proposed to this regulation before the summer, many of which have been the result of MEPs trying to outdo each other on how tough they can be on ‘Big Tech’. But after the initial posturing, the hard work now starts on drafting legislation that actually works in practise: a DMA that supports the EU’s ambitions to be fit for the digital age. For Brussels to set the pace for tech regulation around the world will require a cool head, and a thoughtful approach. To be fit for the digital age, the DMA needs to be as dynamic and flexible as the sector it will regulate.

Parliament backs plan to phase out animal testing

On Wednesday (22 September), the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that calls on the European Commission to draw-up an action plan to phase out animal experiments. This is a momentous political victory in a region where recent setbacks have occurred for animals in laboratories. 

Top on the list of setbacks is the revelation that the European Chemical Agency has disregarded the longstanding ban on animal testing for cosmetics by demanding additional animal data for dozens of cosmetic ingredients, which has already killed an estimated 25,000 animals. Humane Society International’s stop-motion short film Save Ralph has helped raise awareness on the fact that the public has been misled about the EU’s cosmetics ban. 

Many more animals may die in painful toxicity tests if the European Commission implements its Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a Toxic-Free Environment, which as proposed would further cement the EU’s “tick-box” approach to chemical hazard assessment based predominantly on animal testing. 

The Parliament’s resolution correctly points out that non-animal approaches based on human biology are the key to better assess chemical safety. That is one of the reasons why, in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has committed to phase-out its animal tests requirements by 2035, and the Humane Cosmetics Act is gathering steam in Congress. 

The resolution in favor of an action plan to phase out animal testing was championed by HSI/Europe and other animal protection groups, leading European scientists and companies. The overwhelming cross-party support shown by Members of the European Parliament reflects the growing dismay felt toward recent actions and proposals by the European Chemical Agency and the European Commission.

Happy news to finish: US opens up to fully vaccinated travellers 

The US is easing its coronavirus travel restrictions, reopening to passengers from the UK, EU and other nations. From November, foreign travellers will be allowed to fly into the US if they are fully vaccinated, and undergo testing and contact tracing. The US has had tough restrictions on travel in place since early last year. 

The move answers a major demand from European allies, and means that families and friends separated by the restrictions can be reunited. "It's a happy day - Big Apple, here I come!" French entrepreneur Stephane Le Breton told the Associated Press news agency, as he looked forward to a trip to New York City that had been put on hold because of the restrictions. 

White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients announced the new rules on Monday (20 September), saying: "This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach, so it's a stronger system." "Most importantly, foreign nationals flying to the US will be required to be fully vaccinated," he said. US restrictions were initially imposed on travellers from China in early 2020, and then extended to other countries.

 The current rules bar entry to most non-US citizens who have been in the UK and a number of other European countries, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil within the last 14 days. Under the new rules, foreign travellers will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before flying, obtain a negative Covid-19 test result within three days of travelling, and provide their contact information. They will not be required to quarantine. 

That is all from EAPM for now – make sure you stay safe and well and have an excellent weekend, see you next week.

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Cancer

EAPM: Headline event on the crest of a wave in fight against cancer!

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Good afternoon, health colleagues, and welcome to the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) update – the upcoming EAPM event is tomorrow, 17 September! It’s called ‘The need for change: Defining the health-care ecosystem to determine value’ and it will take place during the ESMO Congress, details below, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

Cancer screening, cancer priorities at the political level

The EAPM event comes at a propitious time for forward progress on cancer - Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced a new initiative to update a 17-year-old Council recommendation on cancer screening. The new 2022 initiatives were proposed in a letter of intent published during the president’s State of the Union address yesterday (15 September).  

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In addition, political party the EPP has made clear its cancer policy priorities in a 15-point programme. The policy document outlines proposed amendments to the Cancer Committee’s own initiative report. This, along with reform of the cross border health care directive — which in theory allows for patients in one member country to be treated in another — and data sharing being key to applying artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to research, and to enable the digital transformation of health care, have been issues very much at the forefront of EAPM’s recent work, to tackle disparities in cancer prevention, use of data, diagnosis, and treatment around Europe. 

The event will take place from 8h30–16h CET tomorrow; here is the link to register and here is the link to the agenda

Parliament passes two more European Health Union files

Two more European Health Union proposals will move to trilogues after passing in the Parliament’s plenary today (16 September). The proposals for the regulation on serious cross-border health threats passed with 594 votes in favor, 85 against and 16 abstentions. Meanwhile, the mandate change for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Council (ECDC) passed with 598 votes in favor, 84 against and 13 abstentions.

The first proposal to increase the mandate of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is already in trilogues. The second meeting will be held later this month.

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Data Governance Act

In preparation of a proposal for a new Data Act expected by December 2021, the European Commission has opened a public consultation.

The main objective of this initiative is to support data sharing within the EU economy, in particular business-to-business and business-to-government, with a horizontal scope (e.g., covering industrial data, Internet of Things, etc.). 

It aims at complementing other data-related files, such as the Data Governance Act, the GDPR and ePrivacy Regulation, Competition Law (e.g. the Horizontal Cooperation Guidelines) and the Digital Markets Act. As reported in politico, this will be tackled by deputy ambassadors in Coreper I on 1 October. An EU official familiar with the process said a few countries asked for minor changes on data intermediaries and international data transfers.

‘Risky’ artificial intelligence 

The U.N. human rights chief is calling for a moratorium on the use of artificial intelligence technology that poses a serious risk to human rights, including face-scanning systems that track people in public spaces. Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, also said Wednesday that countries should expressly ban AI applications which don’t comply with international human rights law. Applications that should be prohibited include government “social scoring” systems that judge people based on their behavior and certain AI-based tools that categorize people into clusters such as by ethnicity or gender. 

AI-based technologies can be a force for good but they can also “have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights,” Bachelet said in a statement. 

Her comments came along with a new U.N. report that examines how countries and businesses have rushed into applying AI systems that affect people’s lives and livelihoods without setting up proper safeguards to prevent discrimination and other harms. “This is not about not having AI,” Peggy Hicks, the rights office’s director of thematic engagement, told journalists as she presented the report in Geneva. “It’s about recognizing that if AI is going to be used in these human rights — very critical — function areas, that it’s got to be done the right way. And we simply haven’t yet put in place a framework that ensures that happens.”

EU digital targets for 2030

The Commission has proposed a plan to monitor how EU countries move forward on the bloc’s digital targets for 2030. The EU will promote its human-centred digital agenda on the global stage and promote alignment or convergence with EU norms and standards. It will also ensure the security and resilience of its digital supply chains and deliver global solutions. 

These will be achieved by setting a toolbox combining regulatory cooperation, addressing capacity building and skills, investment in international co-operation and research partnerships, designing digital economy packages financed through initiatives that bring together the EU and combining EU internal investments and external co-operation instruments investing in improved connectivity with the EU’s partners. The Commission will soon launch a wide-ranging discussion and consultation process, including with citizens, on the EU vision and the digital principles.

EIB backs money for vaccines 

The European Investment Bank’s (EIB) board of directors have approved €647 million to help countries buy and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and other health projects. Vaccine distribution will benefit Argentina, as well as South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. At the start of the crisis, European Investment Bank staff started working on the health emergency and the economic downturn at the same time. The Bank divided its support for biotechnology and medical companies into three main sectors: vaccines, therapies and diagnostics. The aim: to track infections, stop the spread of the disease and care for those who get sick.

Earlier this year, the Bank approved €5 billion in new financing to support urgent action in fields such as health care and medical innovation for COVID-19. Since then, more than 40 biotechnology or medical companies and projects have been approved for EIB financing worth about €1.2 billion. This put the Bank at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

The European Investment Bank is also backing global programmes to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, especially in the developing world. For example, the Bank recently approved a €400 million deal with COVAX, a global initiative supported by hundreds of countries, the private sector and philanthropic organisations to promote equal access to a vaccine.

Good news to finish - Coronavirus vaccines cut risk of long Covid, study finds 

Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 not only cuts the risk of catching it, but also of an infection turning into long Covid, research led by King's College London suggests. It shows that in the minority of people who get Covid despite two jabs, the odds of developing symptoms lasting longer than four weeks are cut by 50%. This is compared with people who are not vaccinated. 

So far, 78.9% of over-16s in the UK have had two doses of a Covid vaccine. Many people who get Covid recover within four weeks but some have symptoms that continue or develop for weeks and months after the initial infection - sometimes known as long Covid. It can happen after people experience even mild coronavirus symptoms. The researchers, whose work was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, say it is clear that vaccinations are saving lives and preventing serious illness, but the impact of vaccines on developing long-lasting illness has been less certain.

That is all from EAPM for this week – we look forward very much to the event tomorrow, and will be reporting on it next week. Until then, stay safe, well, and here is the link to register and here is the link to the agenda

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European Alliance for Personalised Medicine

EAPM update: Beating cancer with stakeholders and data - Register now!

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Good afternoon, health colleagues, and welcome to the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) update of the week – as the days speed by, it is now high time to register for the upcoming EAPM event on 17 September that will take place during the ESMO Congress, details below, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

‘Cancer in its many forms’

As mentioned in previous updates, the conference, EAPM’s ninth annual event, is entitled ‘The need for change – and how to make it happen: Defining the health-care ecosystem to determine value’. The event will take place on Friday, 17 September from 08h30–16h00 CET; here is the link to register and here is the link to the agenda.

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This dynamics series of roundtable will look at different elements of this through the following sessions: 

  • Session I: Winning Stakeholders' Trust In Genomic Data Sharing and the use of Real World Evidence/Data
  • Session II: Bringing Molecular Diagnostics into healthcare Systems
  • Session III Regulating the future - Balance of patient safety and facilitating innovation – IVDR
  • Session IV: Saving lives through health data collection and usage

Many of the points that are highlighted below will be discussed at the conference. 

Data points way forward to beating cancer

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Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) convened on Thursday (9 September) to focus on two key cancer care and research issues. First up on the Committee’s agenda was a discussion with the European Commission on the creation of a European Health Data Space.

The Commission’s Beating Cancer Plan envisages electronic health records playing a crucial role in cancer prevention and care and is looking to make the most of the potential of data and digitalisation, through its European Health Data Space initiative to improve cancer treatment, healthcare delivery and quality of life outcomes.

BECA Committee MEPs also held an exchange of views with the Commission on progress around the implementation of the so-called Chemicals Strategy for Innovation, which aims to deliver high levels of health and environmental protection from chemicals.

The strategy is seen as another key component of the Commission’s Beating Cancer Plan as it seeks to reduce citizen’s exposure to carcinogenic substances and other hazardous chemicals.

“The COVID pandemic has again demonstrated the fact that we are struggling to use data in order to inform the policymaking and decision-making processes,” said Ioana Maria Gligor, head of unit for European reference networks and digital health. 

The Commission is looking to fix that with a legal proposal scheduled for the beginning of 2022. 

Gligor explained that the idea is to allow health data to flow seamlessly to wherever it’s needed: between hospitals inside a country, but also between countries. 

“As of 2022, we are aiming to support access of patients to their own health data on their smart devices,” the Commission official explained. Things like genomic data can be invaluable to help diagnose rare cancers in patients, for example. And massive stores of anonymized patient data can also be used to help drive disease research using machine learning tools.

Slovenia moves EU data bill closer to the finish line

Slovenia has sharpened the restrictions for the international flows of European industrial data in a bill meant to encourage EU countries and companies to share data with each other.

Following in Portugal’s footsteps, the Slovene presidency of the EU clarified rules on the international transfer of industrial data and made small tweaks in the Data Governance Act in the fifth compromise text circulated on 7 September.

EU countries will discuss the compromise text on 14 September.

Eurobarometer results

The European Union has been working to contain the spread of the coronavirus, support national health systems, protect and save lives, as well as counter the socio-economic impact of the pandemic at both the national and EU level. Actions culminated in the Commission’s proposal for a Recovery Fund and modified multiannual budget for the EU, providing for an unprecedented level of support to help overcome the crisis.

Three out of four respondents across all countries surveyed say they have heard, seen or read about EU measures to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic; a third of respondents (33%) also know what these measures are. At the same time around half (52%) of those who know about EU action in this crisis say they are not satisfied with the measures taken so far.

Nearly seven out of ten respondents (69%) want a stronger role for the EU in fighting this crisis. In parallel, almost six out of ten respondents are dissatisfied with the solidarity shown between EU member states during the pandemic. While 74% of respondents have heard about measures or actions initiated by the EU to respond to the pandemic, only 42% of them are satisfied with these measures so far.

Around two-thirds of respondents (69%) agree that “the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the coronavirus pandemic”. Less than a quarter of respondents (22%) disagree with this statement.

This strong call for more EU competences and a more robustly co-ordinated EU response goes hand in hand with the dissatisfaction expressed by a majority of respondents as concerns the solidarity between EU member states in fighting the coronavirus pandemic: 57% are unhappy with the current state of solidarity, including 22% who are ‘not at all’ satisfied.

Farm to Fork Strategy

The European Parliament’s  Environment (ENVI) committees are voting on their joint own-initiative report on the Farm to Fork Strategy, which sets out how the EU aims to make the food system “fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly”. MEPs from both committees are expected to approve their joint Farm to Fork Strategy report on Friday and send it to plenary for a final vote scheduled for early October. 

And a group of lawmakers, led by the Greens’ Martin Häusling, are threatening to block the delegated act when it comes to the plenary of the European Parliament next week, arguing that the conditions it sets out are not sufficiently protective of human health. Overusing antibiotic drugs to treat farm animals will worsen the global problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which has been termed the silent pandemic.

“Failure to move forward with these restrictions will be a missed opportunity. We do not have time to waste in fighting AMR,” Kyriakides said in the agriculture committee today.

The controversial delegated act is part of the revision of the EU’s animal health laws, which will start to apply from January 2022.

Good news to finish: Ministers hoping vaccines watchdog will back mass rollout of booster jabs 

UK ministers have piled pressure on the vaccines watchdog to approve a large-scale programme of Covid booster injections in time for winter, as the number of people in hospital with the virus exceeded 8,000 for the first time since March. 

On Thursday (9 September) the UK’s medicines regulator granted emergency approval for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to be used as third shots to tackle potentially waning immunity, also putting pressure on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to approve a new jab programme. Hours later, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said he was confident that such injections would begin imminently. “We are heading towards our booster programme,” he said. “I’m confident that our booster programme will start later this month, but I’m still awaiting the final advice.”

And that is all for this week from EAPM - don't forget, here is the link to register for EAPM's 17 September conference, and here is the link to the agenda. Until next week, stay safe and well, and have a lovely weekend!

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