25 Feb
covid-19 European Union

COVID-19: EU working on all fronts, €232 million for global efforts to tackle outbreak

The European Commission is working around the clock to support EU Member States and strengthen international efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

New EU aid package

To boost global preparedness, prevention and containment of the virus the Commission announces today a new aid package worth €232 million. Part of these funds will be allocated immediately to different sectors, while the rest will be released in the next months.

“As cases continue to rise, public health is the number one priority. Whether it be boosting preparedness in Europe, in China or elsewhere, the international community must work together. Europe is here to play a leading role,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, and European Emergency Response Coordinator said: “With more than 2,600 lives lost already, there is no option but to prepare at all levels. Our new aid package will support the World Health Organisation and target funding to ensure countries with weaker health systems are not left behind. Our goal is to contain the outbreak at a global level”.

Support to Member States

Following the developments in Italy, the Commission is stepping up its support to Member States in the context of the on-going work on preparedness, contingency and response planning.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said: “In view of the rapidly evolving situation, we stand ready to increase our assistance. In this vein, a joint expert mission of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organisation will depart to Italy this week to support the Italian authorities.”

Background

New EU funding will help detect and diagnose the disease, care for infected people and prevent further transmission at this critical time.

Out of the €232 million aid package:

– €114 million will support the World Health Organization (WHO), in particular the global preparedness and response global plan. This intends to boost public health emergency preparedness and response work in countries with weak health systems and limited resilience. Part of this funding is subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities.

– €15 million are planned to be allocated in Africa, including to the Institute Pasteur Dakar, Senegal to support measures such as rapid diagnosis and epidemiological surveillance.

– €100 million will go to urgently needed research related to diagnostics, therapeutics and prevention, including €90 million through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry. *

– €3 million allocated to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for repatriation flights of EU citizens from Wuhan, China.

What has the Commission been doing since the outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in China?

1) At EU level, under the Cross-border Health Threat Decision, the Commission coordinates with Member States through three key mechanisms:

The Early Warning and Response System
The Health Security Committee
The Health Security Committee’s Communicators’ network.
These tools support cooperation, rapid exchange of information, swift monitoring and coordination of preparedness and response measures to COVID-19.

2) The Commission, with support from relevant EU agencies, in particular the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), is providing technical guidance related to: risk assessments; case definition for diagnosis and aligned reporting of suspected and confirmed cases; infection prevention and control in health care settings; advice for travellers; updated information on therapeutics and vaccines; contact tracing on aircrafts; management of points of entry and aviation sector recommendations.

Moreover, Member States’ Joint Action Healthy Gateways, funded by the EU, is providing guidance and training on points of entry measures, as well as another Joint Action, SHARP (strengthened international health regulations and preparedness in the EU) on laboratory preparedness.

3) The Commission has been coordinating the delivery of assistance to China as well as financing the transport costs of EU Member States’ repatriation flights.

4) To boost global preparedness, prevention and containment of the virus, new funding worth €232 million will be allocated to different sectors.

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