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Press Statement by Commissioner Kyriakides following the EPSCO Council

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 14 juni 2022.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • First of all I want to thank Minister Bourguignon for hosting this Health Council today in her new role, and to wish her every success.
  • I would like to start by addressing the new health threats that have been drawing global attention for a few weeks, and which highlight the importance of preparedness and coordination at EU level.
  • When it comes to the concerning situation of increasing cases of monkeypox, we now have over 900 reported cases in the EU and a total of almost 1400 cases worldwide.
  • We immediately mobilised all EU health assets since the outset of the outbreak.
  • Through our Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, HERA, we are leading efforts to procure vaccines.
  • As I have informed the Ministers today, today we signed an agreement to purchase with the EU budget around 110 000 doses of vaccine against monkeypox for Member States. This is a real and tangible proof of the kind of quick and collective reaction that a European Health Union in action can deliver.
  • This is the first time we are using the EU budget - the EU4Health programme specifically - to respond to a health emergency and to directly purchase vaccines for Member States against monkeypox.
  • On hepatitis cases in children, where cases now stand at nearly 700 worldwide. There are unfortunately still considerable knowledge gaps on the severity of the disease, the transmission dynamics and what response measures are needed. We will continue collecting data and share epidemiological information on cases.
  • Today we discussed the deteriorating health and humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine and its people have now lived through 120 days of unimaginable violence and terror. Every day, hour and minute people in Ukraine are suffering and lives are lost.
  • As of today, nearly 600 critically ill and wounded patients have been transferred to Member States and EEA partners for treatment and care. This is true EU solidarity in action.
  • We are also helping patients with rare diseases through our European Reference Networks, supporting victims of sexual violence, and helping children who have been victims of mine blast injuries to get protheses.
  • The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest donor of humanitarian, early recovery and development assistance to Ukraine.
  • But the war is far from over, a point which I stressed to Ministers today. Simply put, we must not only keep up our support for Ukraine and the countries bordering Ukraine - we must increase it and ensure that we sustain it over time.
  • When it comes to COVID-19, I have today made very clear to Ministers that the pandemic is not over.
  • Vaccination remains as crucial today as it was two years ago.
  • There are three important points I would like to make here:
  • Firstly, we have asked the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency to update the recommendation on additional boosters ahead of the winter period.
  • We expect the need for additional booster doses in the groups most at risk of severe disease, such as those aged 60 and over, or medically vulnerable populations.
  • In the meantime, I have continued to urge Ministers to keep on vaccinating those who have not yet taken the primary course and first booster ahead of the autumn/winter season.
  • Secondly, the development of adapted vaccines is ongoing. Together with the European Medicines Agency, we are in a continuous dialogue with vaccine developers to ensure authorisation by early autumn.
  • And thirdly, we are intensively working with manufacturers to adapt the supply of vaccines and secure an optimisation of supply and demand conditions for the vaccines.
  • This means a postponement of planned deliveries of doses for after the summer when Member States will most likely need them, and hopefully in the form of adapted vaccines, if these are authorised.
  • COVID-19 and the on-going war in Ukraine has clearly showed that global cooperation on health is a necessity.
  • New health threats, such as monkeypox, show how interconnected global health is - and why there is a clear need for a new global health strategy, now.
  • A strategy that reflects and responds to these challenges and that enables us to speak with one voice.
  • Today we discussed this with Ministers, and I underlined three key elements.
  • First, effective multilateralism with stronger International Health Regulations and an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response.
  • Second, partnerships that truly help those most in need.
  • And third, tackling the many initiatives, actors, and financing streams to support our key priorities.
  • Our aim is to present this Strategy by the end of this year, jointly with our first Pandemic Preparedness Report.
  • Another point that we discussed today and which has vast potential to improve the health of our citizens, and also improve how we can work globally is the European Health Data Space.
  • Sharing data will save lives. We are committed to working together to unlock the benefits of the digital transformation for our societies.
  • Again, I would like to thank Minister Bourguignon and her team for organising this meeting today, and would like to congratulate them, as well as her predecessor Minister Veran on the successful Presidency despite the very difficult circumstances.


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