EAPM Global Conference
Tomorrow (14 July), EAPM is holding its Global Conference – owing to the restrictions of COVID-19, the conference will of course be online, but there are already more than 380 registrants who have signed up. A full report will follow soon after, as well as a press release highlighting some of the key statements that will be made, which will follow later today.
The event is all set to be informative and exciting, and will focus on the global alignment of how to bring innovation back into health-care systems. The title of the conference is ‘Forward together, and the necessary next steps for a resilient health-care system’, which promises a ‘taking stock’ of where we are in this epidemic.
Single tracking app
Elsewhere, as you would imagine, moves are still being made in the battle against coronavirus – over in Slovenia, Prime Minister Janez Janša is demanding that Europe aims to create a single app to track the virus, following the country’s data protection authority last week urging lawmakers to vote against plans to make a coronavirus contact-tracing app mandatory for those diagnosed with the illness. The technology tells users if they have come into close contact with those infected, and promises to help governments keep a handle on the virus.
And, as well as EAPM, the European Parliament has been busy, with a vote on Friday (10 July) to allow a temporary derogation for vaccines that have been genetically modified and supporting a European Health Union. The vote on the latter passed with 526 votes in favour, 105 against and 50 abstentions, and is an important indicator that MEPs want to see the EU do more on health by setting minimum standards in health care across the bloc; undergoing stress tests for health systems; and creating a European Health Response Mechanism.
WHO ‘concern’ on pandemic response
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said: “Our concern that doing the meat of the evaluation in the middle of the response could have some effect, but we will do everything to balance it in order to learn as we go. We felt that starting it now can really help us to understand, as we respond, how the whole response is happening.”
Some 12 million cases of the coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, Tedros said.
WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director Mike Ryan said he trusted the chairs to “find the appropriate pace and the appropriate approach” to avoid disrupting the response.
‘No’ to travel from non-EU countries
Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn has said he believes that restrictions on travel are vital, particularly from non-EU countries, if Germany wants to keep its coronavirus numbers down. “We have to be really cautious now,” he said during a live discussion with former UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank.
Apparently, what concerns Spahn the most are the efforts to ensure that the third-country travel rules don’t affect case numbers.
“I see what’s going on in the US,” he said. “We really have to be restrictive for mobility exchange with these areas to keep numbers down in the coming weeks.”
Germany has adopted the Council of the EU’s travel recommendations, relaxing travel restrictions for some third countries, and Spahn also revealed that Germany has stockpiled some two billion masks in preparation for a second wave, adding that it was particularly important that testing capacity is maintained. In addition, Spahn said he was planning on the biggest flu vaccine campaign “in the history of Germany”.
Trump, or ‘Lone Ranger’ – who was that masked man?
In what may be categorized as a predictable response from US President Donald Trump, he has finally bowed to public pressure concerning the wearing of coronavirus face masks, saying that his black face appareil makes him look ‘like the Lone Ranger’.
The situation is being taken a trifle more seriously in Europe, with various countries having made them mandatory, albeit for different people and in different situations. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to be “considering” whether to make them mandatory in supermarkets, while senior minister Michael Gove has said he does not think face coverings should be compulsory in shops in England, saying he trusts people’s common sense. Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Gove said wearing a mask in a shop was “basic good manners”.
On Friday (10 July), Boris Johnson said a “stricter” approach was needed so people wear masks in confined spaces. Senior government sources have said the issue is being kept under review, as Labour called for clarity on the issue.
In such EU countries as Belgium and France, wearing masks in supermarkets is mandatory, whereas Croatia, for example, has made the masks obligatory, starting this week, for health care workers and drivers. In France, demand is growing to make masks mandatory in all enclosed public spaces.
100 local lockdowns in UK
THE UK is tackling 100 localized coronavirus outbreaks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has declared, as testing is ramped up across the nation. Due to increased testing capacity, the Health Secretary declared the UK was now taking a more targeted approach to outbreaks. The city of Leicester remains in lockdown after a spike in cases in the city, while a farm in Herefordshire was closed after 73 cases were reported. Up to 200 workers have now been asked to self-isolate due to the number of positive cases.
Hancock declared more cases were now being discovered due to testing across the UK. He said: “Each week there are more than 100 local actions taken across the country – some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with.”
No to EU COVID-19 vaccine scheme
And the UK will not be joining the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine scheme, the UK’s ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow has said. Sir Tim said if the UK joined the scheme it would have no say on decisions including price or which manufacturers to negotiate with. The UK would also be unable to “pursue parallel negotiations with potential vaccine suppliers”, he said in his letter to the European Commission.
The EU scheme aims to secure supplies of potential coronavirus vaccines, with the European Commission planning to enter into agreements with individual vaccine producers on behalf of the bloc’s member states as part of the multi-million pound programme. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in an agreed timeframe and price, the Commission will finance a part of the vaccine producer’s upfront costs.
Reacting to earlier reports the UK will opt out of the initiative, the Wellcome Trust said countries “urgently” needed to work together “if we’re to stand any chance of delivering global equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine”.