EU launches health crisis agency to prepare for future pandemic

A medical worker is seen in an ambulance at the entrance to Cardarelli Hospital, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Naples, Italy, November 12, 2020. REUTERS / Ciro De Luca / File Photo

BRUSSELS, Sept. 16 (Reuters) – The European Commission on Thursday launched a health crisis body that will coordinate EU spending of nearly 30 billion euros ($ 35.3 billion) to prepare for a future pandemic .

The new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) will assess potential health threats, promote research, ensure availability of critical production and help build stocks.

If a new health crisis arose, it would activate emergency funding and help coordinate monitoring, procurement and procurement of medical equipment or treatment.

The authority is in part designed to avoid a repetition of ad hoc measures taken by different EU countries at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of them ineffective, others to the detriment of other members of the EU.

The new body will complement other EU health agencies – the European Medicines Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said the two agencies had been strengthened, but that was not enough.

“The two agencies have a very important role to play, but especially after the pandemic has hit us,” he said at a press conference.

“HERA will be our main instrument to coordinate preparation and, if necessary, (the) response … This is what we are lacking today.”

HERA, expected to be fully operational in early 2022, will have € 6 billion from the EU budget for 2022-2027, other programs bringing total EU health security spending to almost € 30 billion euros.

With the projects of individual EU members and companies, spending could total 50 billion euros.

($ 1 = 0.8508 euros)

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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