14 April 2021
International Journal of Public Health
Toward ‘Vaccine Internationalism’: The Need for an Equitable and Coordinated Global Vaccination Approach to Effectively Combat COVID-19
'ASPHER calls upon civil society organisations (CSOs) and schools of public health to support the WHO and national governments in catalyzing efforts to combat the spread of disinformation and misinformation. CSOs and schools of public health must not only continue to convey factual, evidence-based information, but also identify and share best practices and expertise with policymakers.'
As announced last week, EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) is reviewing very rare cases of unusual blood clots that occurred in the United States following the use of Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine.
EMA continues to monitor very rare blood clots with low blood platelets that occurred after vaccination with Vaxzevria (previously COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca).
13 April 2021
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
SARS-CoV-2 incidence and vaccine escape
This paper aims to answer the following question: how can COVID-19 exit strategies be planned while limiting the vaccine escape risk?
8 April 2021
This document presents the findings of a survey of EU/EEA countries carried out to ascertain surveillance practices implemented to document and report suspected reinfection cases. It summarises the available evidence on the duration of protective immunity following infection with SARS-CoV-2, addressing concerns related to reinfection, such as disease severity during a reinfection episode. The survey responses and available evidence are used to underline the rationale for the surveillance case definition proposed for suspected reinfection cases, to be reported via The European Surveillance System (TESSy).
7 April 2021
EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) has concluded today that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria (formerly COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca). However, EMA confirms overall benefit-risk remains positive.
1 April 2021
European Journal of Public Health
Area-level indicators of income and total mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic
The authors conducted an ecological study based on the number of deaths registered in the municipalities of the Lombardy region (Italy) between January 2019 and June 2020. In conclusion, the socioeconomic inequalities in mortality widened in Lombardy, the Italian region most severely hit during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
'While the merits of vaccine passports may be undeniable, implementation will require ethical justifications and practical solutions that do not discriminate against the poor, the less technically literate, and people from low- and middle-income countries. Without mitigation strategies and alternative solutions, the hardships experienced by marginalised and vulnerable groups will be intensified through the perpetuation of discrimination.'
30 March 2021
26 March 2021
'More than eight out of 10 UK adults who were initially reluctant to have a covid vaccine now plan to do so, survey data suggest.
Preliminary findings from University College London’s Virus Watch study suggest that 86% of those who were unsure about having the vaccine or planned to refuse it in December 2020 have now changed their minds.'
Latest evidence on SARS-CoV-2 transmission and children, and on transmission in educational settings.
25 March 2021
In this paper, Hans Kluge and Martin McKee explain that 'The logistics of delivering vaccination to the intended groups is complex. Many things need to be in place, including accurate population registers, systems to identify groups with low uptake, adequate numbers of vaccinators, with removal of restrictive rules on who can administer vaccines that remain in some countries, and well functioning logistics systems for vaccines deployment.'
24 March 2021
'The European Commission has introduced the principles of reciprocity and proportionality as new criteria to be considered for authorising exports under the transparency and authorisation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccine exports. This system has significantly improved the transparency of exports. Nevertheless, the objective to ensure timely access to COVID-19 vaccines for EU citizens is still not met.'
23 March 2021
COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs quiz top officials on authorisation and contracts
MEPs quizzed the European Commission and European Medicines Agency on the latest developments concerning the authorisation and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
European Journal of Public Health
Assessing the Indirect Effects of COVID-19 on Healthcare Delivery, Utilization, and Health Outcomes: A Scoping Review
Healthcare utilization for non-COVID-19 conditions has decreased almost universally, across both high- and lower-income countries. The pandemic’s impact on non-COVID-19 health outcomes, particularly for chronic diseases, may take years to fully manifest and should be a topic of ongoing study.
Current vaccines are based on a version of the spike glycoprotein from the start of the outbreak, however, and central questions remain around the ability of an old version of the spike glycoprotein to generate protective antibodies against newer emerging variants.
22 March 2021
In this article, the authors provide a comprehensive review of the current literature on post-acute COVID-19, its pathophysiology and its organ-specific sequelae. They discuss relevant considerations for the multidisciplinary care of COVID-19 survivors and propose a framework for the identification of those at high risk for post-acute COVID-19 and their coordinated management through dedicated COVID-19 clinics.
21 March 2021
'People in detention are more vulnerable to severe forms of COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions and more likely to contract the virus due to limited access to water and soap, hand sanitizer and face masks, the inability to physically distance and suboptimal access to healthcare. Moreover, most people spend limited time in prison and transition between community and prison, including staff moving daily in and out of the premises, which leads to increased risk of the virus entering prison and spilling into communities, demanding specific prevention measures.'
Maximising public adherence to COVID-19 self-isolation in Europe
Drawing on analyses of international approaches to self-isolation measures, [the authors] distil five key insights for maximising public adherence to self-isolation in the European region.
Week 15-21 March
20 March 2021
The Lancet Regional Health / Europe
Do asymptomatic carriers of SARS-COV-2 transmit the virus?
'[The authors} suggest that asymptomatic individuals are infectious during the early stage of infection, but some rare cases (3/100.000) become long-term virus carriers which are no longer infectious. [...] It cannot be excluded that rare long-term carriers may become virus reservoirs, with the potential to cause recurrent outbreaks. This has important implications for future SARS-COV-2 public health and surveillance, and our understanding of yet another pitfall of this cunning virus.'
18 March 2021
'As the European Medicines Agency has clearly stated today, the benefits of the vaccine in combating COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks of side effects. It is an effective and safe vaccine that greatly contributes to the efforts to address the impact of COVID-19 and the very serious health risks of an infection.'
17 March 2021
Coronavirus: a common path to Europe's safe re-opening
The Commission has adopted a legislative proposal establishing a common framework for a Digital Green Certificate covering vaccination, testing and recovery.The Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format.
15 March 2021
'Several authorities responsible for national vaccine campaigns in EU countries have temporarily paused vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. This is a precaution taken in the light of their national situation while EMA investigates a number of events of blood clots in people who had received the vaccine, as previously reported.'
13 March 2021
'Global vaccination is essential to ending the pandemic but this fact has still not prompted the unity required to deliver it. Far more vision and ambition are needed. They must come from the highest political levels.'
12 March 2021
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
A glimmer of hope beyond the spring for Europe
'When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe in early 2020, people were forced, for the first time, to comply with what were perceived as Orwellian, almost nightmarish, restrictions. Yet, Europeans adapted to the restrictions bravely, and the scenes of people singing together from their balconies or playing tennis on rooftops were uplifting and created a sense of unity and common purpose. 1 year later, feelings in the continent are quite different.'
11 March 2021
The Commission has today extended until end of June the transparency and authorisation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccine exports. This follows persistent delays in some of the deliveries of vaccines to the EU.
The European Commission has granted a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and the fourth COVID-19 vaccine authorised in the EU.
The Lancet Regional Health / Europe
Is the worst of the pandemic over for Europe?
'To truly leave the pandemic behind, the world needs the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich to have equal access to the vaccines, and Europe has a crucial role to play in this philanthropic mission. A reassuring pledge has been made by the world leaders at the virtual G7 meeting on Feb 19, to donate a part of their vaccine supplies to the developing nations. Only time can tell if these promises will be fulfilled.'
10 March 2021
The European Commission has reached an agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer for the supply of four million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Member States in the next two weeks in order to tackle coronavirus hotspots and to facilitate free border movement.
'The probability that the risk of mortality is increased by infection with VOC-202012/01 is high. If this finding is generalisable to other populations, infection with VOC-202012/1 has the potential to cause substantial additional mortality compared with previously circulating variants. Healthcare capacity planning and national and international control policies are all impacted by this finding, with increased mortality lending weight to the argument that further coordinated and stringent measures are justified to reduce deaths from SARS-CoV-2.'
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Scaling COVID-19 against inequalities: should the policy response consistently match the mortality challenge?
The authors aimed to calibrate the scale of the modelled mortality impact of COVID-19 using age-standardised mortality rates and life expectancy contribution against other, socially determined, causes of death in order to inform governments and the public.
The authors examined the approaches to supporting and monitoring isolation in countries with available data to help understand what works. Data sources included government reports and websites, peer reviewed articles, preprints, and news media reports.
'Multi-layered mitigations can substantially reduce the risk of transmission within schools and into households. In the panel we [the authors] summarise a set of recommendations that are in line with guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and practised in many countries to reduce the risk of transmission in schools and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on children and families.'
9 March 2021
Journal of Public Health
Acceptance of a Covid-19 vaccine is associated with ability to detect fake news and health literacy
'To promote acceptance of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, it is recommended to increase individuals’ ability to detect fake news and health literacy through education and communication programs.'
8 March 2021
The World Federation of Public Health Associations, the Alliance of Public Health Associations of the Americas, the European Public Health Association, the African Federation of Public Health Associations, and the Asia Pacific Regional Liaison Office call on regional societies and national public health associations to re-emphasize their commitment to collaboration and to continue strengthening global partnerships.
COVID-19 continues to exacerbate existing inequalities and place a disproportionate burden on women, including in health-care settings. Women health workers are faced with increased workloads, a gender pay gap, shortages of personal protective equipment that fits them, and harassment and violence as they respond to the pandemic on the frontlines.
The Lancet Global Health
COVID-19 serosurveys for public health decision making
COVID-19 vaccination is being rolled out in many countries. Serosurveys will continue to be of great use for understanding population immunity on account of natural infection as well as vaccination and ongoing transmission.
5 March 2021
Ahead of International Women's Day, the Commission published its 2021 report on gender equality in the EU, that shows the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life, both in Europe and beyond, rolling back on the hard-won achievements of past years.
3 March 2021
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The LSHTM VaC tracker is focused on presenting a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the global vaccine landscape, provided in a user-friendly and engaging format. The landscape feature is updated weekly, collating information on all preclinical and clinical candidates from the WHO COVID-19 vaccine landscape and the Milken Institute's tracker, as well as information provided directly by developers. An interactive timeline displays clinical trial dates and locations for each candidate, providing users with the option to subset vaccines by platform and development phase.
The Lancet Global Health
Preparing for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out through simulation exercises
'Both vaccine-specific tabletop exercises and intra-action review adopt a whole-of-society approach that involves different sectors of the government, private and public sectors, community organisations, and academia to conduct studies to understand vaccine hesitancy and how to promote positive behaviour change. Hence, being one of the biggest vaccination endeavours in history, everyone needs to be on board. By working together, being prepared, and staying one step ahead, we can prevail in the fight against COVID-19.'
The authors call for an intersectional approach to COVID-19 research and vaccination programmes to better serve people. Socially, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, class and geography are key mediators of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, access to care and the impact of lockdowns. Biologically, age, male sex, obesity and co-morbidities are important risk factors for severe disease and mortality. More investigation is needed on how these factors interact to affect health and vaccination.
This technical guidance provides guidance to laboratories, microbiology experts and relevant stakeholders in making decisions on establishing or scaling up capability and capacity to detect and identify circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, and in making decisions on which technologies to use and for which objective.
1 March 2021
The Lancet Regional Health Europe
Evidencing the detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health across Europe
As vaccination programmes are rolled out across the continent, and the immediate impact of COVID-19 gradually abates, comprehensive public health strategies will need to optimise societal well-being, health and prosperity by carefully balancing the complex trade-offs between enhancing the mental health and life chances of younger people and working age adults whilst protecting the physical health and safety of older persons and individuals with existing serious physical health conditions
26 February 2021
Coronavirus: First EU disinfection robots arrive in hospitals
Two Slovenian hospitals received two of the first robots purchased by the Commission to disinfect patient rooms, thus helping reduce and contain the spread of coronavirus. A further 29 disinfection robots are deployed to hospitals in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. These robots can disinfect a standard size patient room in as quickly as 10 minutes by using ultraviolet light and disinfect over 18 rooms in one charge. The aim is to ensure a sterile environment in hospitals without exposing staff to unnecessary risk. Since this is a physical process rather than one using a chemical disinfectant, it is safer for the hospital staff as they do not need to handle, transport or store toxic, hazardous or corrosive chemicals anymore.
This issue of the ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) covers the period 21-27 February 2021 and includes updates on COVID-19, Avian influenza A(H5N8) virus, seasonal influenza, Ebola virus disease, chikungunya virus disease and dengue.
25 February 2021
The group, tasked with reviewing evidence, identifying gaps and exploring solutions, will inform and support countries’ efforts in addressing mental health needs within and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statement – Update on COVID-19: WHO/Europe calls for action on post-COVID conditions/“long COVID”
Statement by Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
24 February 2021
Learning from crises
Despite how they are common practice, there is little evidence that inquiries are an effective way of learning operational lessons from past crises. We must do better. Therefore, we would support an examination of the events from the past year; however, we would also call for an examination of the way in which these inquiries are done to ensure that they produce active rather than just passive learning.
23 February 2021
There is an urgent need for a system-level approach to address the issues that COVID-19 has created to better protect and safeguard our medical workforce for the future.
18 February 2021
The downloadable data file contains the data on which the maps requested in the Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in EU/EEA are based. They are published every Thursday.
European Medicines agency
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
Full assessment report for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. In short, COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is made up of another virus (of the adenovirus family) that has been modified to contain the gene for making a protein from SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca does not contain the virus itself and cannot cause COVID-19.
The EU Health Security Committee agreed on a common list of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, a selection of rapid antigen tests for which Member States will mutually recognise their results, and a common standardised set of data to be included in COVID-19 test result certificates.
Coronavirus: a timeline of EU action in 2021
Discover what action the EU is taking in 2021 for the roll-out of vaccines and treatment, to boost the economy, employment, society, travel and transport and to help its partners worldwide to fight Covid-19.
17 February 2021
Coronavirus: preparing Europe for the increased threat of variants
The Commission is proposing immediate action to prepare Europe for the increased threat of coronavirus variants. The new European bio-defence preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants called “HERA Incubator” will work with researchers, biotech companies, manufacturers and public authorities in the EU and globally to detect new variants, provide incentives to develop new and adapted vaccines, speed up the approval process for these vaccines, and ensure scaling up of manufacturing capacities.
This Technical Report presents evidence about the current status of Behavioural Insights (BI) research being conducted in the ten EU/EEA Member States that responded to an ECDC survey, within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus is on identifying experiences, challenges, and key lessons learned in translating the findings from BI research into effective strategies for pandemic response, and for optimising risk communication activities. The work has been undertaken in the context of concern about sub-optimal compliance in some Member States to the non-pharmaceutical measures that are in place to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2, and also with regards to the need to support the implementation of national COVID-19 vaccination programmes.
15 February 2021
12 February 2021
In this Health Policy paper, [the authors] discussed the development and production, affordability, allocation, and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the interactions between these dimensions of the global vaccination challenge. The distinct characteristics of leading COVID-19 vaccines across each of these dimensions generate trade-offs, which mean that both globally and nationally, the availability of diversified sets of vaccine options is likely to be needed to bring the global pandemic under control.
11 February 2021
9 February 2021
Following a six-month inquiry into the performance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) during the COVID-19 crisis, the European Ombudsman has made a series of proposals to enable greater public scrutiny and understanding of its work as the crisis continues and the focus of that work moves to the monitoring of vaccine distribution.
5 February 2021
Countries need to increase sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 viral isolates and report them. WHO also urges continuing and redoubling all of the basic public health and social measures that are known to work, including testing, isolating and treating cases, contact tracing, and quarantine for contacts of cases. Everyone is part of this effort and individuals will need to be extra careful and continue protective measures such as hand hygiene, physical distancing, and wearing a mask when needed.
This episode of Coronapod, discusses wha variants are, and the best way to respond to them, in the face of increasing evidence that some can evade the immunity produced by vaccination or previous infection.
The Community needs, perceptions and demand: community assessment tool can be used by countries to rapidly assess and respond to community health needs and perceptions around access and effective use of essential health services during the COVID-19 outbreak.
3 February 2021
This document contains summary information on the latest projections from the IHME model on COVID-19 in the European Union. The model was run on February 3, 2021, with data through February 1, 2021.
2 February 2021
Research on the virus and on COVID-19 moves quickly, so public-health agencies have a responsibility to present clear, up-to-date information that provides what people need to keep themselves and others safe.
People who have already had confirmed covid-19 might only need a single dose of a mRNA vaccine, two small studies have indicated
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
Understanding the drivers of transmission of SARS-CoV-2
Despite the recent development of effective vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), non-pharmaceutical interventions will remain the cornerstone in the battle against COVID-19 for some time. Such interventions are effective but have major societal and economic impacts and should therefore be used as selectively as possible.
1 February 2021
The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine produced by the US biotechnology company Novavax is 95.6% effective against the original variant of SARS-CoV-2 but also provides protection against the newer variants B.1.1.7 (85.6%) and B.1.351 (60%), preliminary data from clinical trials show.
The European Medicines Agency authorised Astra Zeneca’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for use in all adults aged over 18 on 29 January, just days after German newspapers suggested that the vaccine would be limited to adults aged under 65 because of poor efficacy in older people.
29 January 2021
European Parliament briefing
Covid-19 vaccination campaigns: The public dimension
The Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration and looks into broader systemic issues with the EU institutions.
The complainant wrote to the European Commission requesting that it disclose the names of those involved in negotiating 'advance purchase agreements' with pharmaceutical companies for the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Commission disclosed the name of the Director-General negotiating on behalf of the Commission, but refused to disclose the names of the other experts and members of the 'joint negotiation team' involved in the negotiations. It stated that this was to protect their personal data and to maintain their independence in the ongoing negotiations. The Commission then failed to reply to the complainant's request that it review its decision.
The Ombudsman opened an inquiry and, as a first step, asked the Commission to elaborate further on its refusal to disclose the names.
28 January 2021
Robust strategies for widespread testing should take into account the core principles relating to diagnostic testing, and specific considerations for each defined use. Evidence suggests that rapid antigen tests are relevant for a wide set of uses, but there is still a need to invest in the development of novel diagnostics for commoditised use beyond the health-care system.
The Commission published a set of reports on actions taken in December 2020, provided by the signatories of the Code of Practice on Disinformation as part of the COVID-19 monitoring and reporting programme. The Commission also announces the continuation of the programme as the pandemic is still unfolding.
Following the conclusions of the European Council of 10-11 December 2020 and of 21 January 2021, the EU Member States, with the support of the European Commission, adopted guidelines on proof of vaccination for medical purposes.
27 January 2021
European Journal of Public Health
Learning from past mistakes? The COVID-19 vaccine and the inverse equity hypothesis
While the discovery of a safe and effective vaccine represents a significant breakthrough, it will not necessarily abolish the inequalities associated with COVID-19. Careful consideration should be given to how the delivery of the COVID-19—and future—vaccination programmes will address the challenges associated with the inverse equity hypothesis
26 January 2021
The EU has warned Covid vaccine producers they must deliver agreed supplies, amid fears reductions could seriously hamper its inoculation drive.
25 January 2021
Infographic - How mRNA vaccines protect you against COVID-19
mRNA technology explained in simple terms
21 January 2021
we can’t simply wait for vaccine rollout. Nor are lockdowns anything other than a pause button. Much, much more needs to be done to avoid viral transmission and mutation. Where is the strategy for the coming months, once lockdown lifts? Where are the basic public health measures to help people who want to self-isolate but can’t afford to or who live in overcrowded accommodation? Why blame and shame when what is needed is practical support?
More palpable than hope is the deepening frustration at government inaction, missteps, and continuing incompetence.
20 January 2021
The pandemic provides harsh lessons about the societal vulnerabilities that arise from inequality. There is a clear need for financial recommitment to public health capacity, but also this should accompany a substantial commitment to tackling the social determinants of poor health and wellbeing.
19 January 2021
Commission sets out key actions for a united front to beat COVID-19
Two days ahead of the meeting of European leaders on a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission set out a number of actions needed to step up the fight against the pandemic.
15 January 2021
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
An exceptional vaccination policy in exceptional circumstances
12 January 2021
Thanks to a modification of the Operational Programme for Kujawsko-Pomorskie region in Poland, nearly €20 million are now available to help tackle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
9 January 2021
'Yet a widely held assumption that everything a learner needs to know about a field can be gained from those already working within it holds powerful sway. We challenge that assumption, proposing that clinicians can learn from experts outside medicine whose ways of doing resonate with medical practice but whose expertise often goes unrecognised.'
8 January 2021
This vaccine portfolio would enable the EU not only to cover the needs of its whole population, but also to supply vaccines to neighbouring countries.
6 January 2021
On 30 December the four UK chief medical officers announced that the second doses of the COVID vaccines should be given towards the end of 12 weeks rather than in the previously recommended 3-4 weeks. Gareth Iacobucci and Elisabeth Mahase look at the questions this has raised.
Today [6 January 2021], the European Commission has granted a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the second COVID-19 vaccine authorised in the EU.
5 January 2021
May CI van Schalkwyk, Nason Maani and Martin McKee call on public health professionals to 'challenge all commercial interests that undermine our efforts to build a fairer and healthier world.'
31 December 2020
The BMJ Global Health
Towards inclusionary and diversity-sensitive public health: the consequences of exclusionary othering in public health using the example of COVID-19 management in German reception centres and asylum camps
Building on the concept of othering, this article argues that processes of othering are structurally anchored in German asylum regulations and they have further pervaded public health measures against COVID-19.
22 December 2020
This document builds on a previously published ECDC report, ‘Key aspects regarding the introduction and prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccination in the EU/EEA and the UK. By using mathematical modelling, this document provides EU/EEA countries with information on factors that may affect the choice of COVID-19 vaccination.
The aim of this document is to provide an update on the knowledge surrounding the role of children in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the role of schools in the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the experience in the EU from August–December, 2020.
WHO/Europe is supporting countries in the WHO European Region following the report of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant on 14 December 2020 by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Support has included: the assessment of risks; recommendations on virological studies, sequencing and vaccination; guidance on measures; and risk communication. Partner coordination and information sharing has been at the base of the response.
8 December 2020
In conclusion, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 has an acceptable safety profile and has been found to be efficacious against symptomatic COVID-19 in this interim analysis of ongoing clinical trials.
7 December 2020
On 7 December, the European Commission welcomed the adoption of important new measures which will enable Member States to relieve EU hospitals, medical practitioners and individuals of Value-Added Tax (VAT) when acquiring coronavirus vaccines and testing kits.
Coronavirus testing: Contributing to efforts to stem the second wave
On 15 October 2020, the WHO Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health held a special meeting with the WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals to discuss behavioural considerations in relation to COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake. The discussion focused on a series of key questions around achieving high and equitable uptake of vaccines through evidence-based and behaviourally informed strategies.
5 December 2020
COVID-19 has left little time for reflection about lessons to be learned. This coronavirus has provoked us, mobilised us, and distracted us. But with a vaccine on the horizon, it's perhaps time to pause. What have we discovered this past year? And how do these discoveries inform our future?
4 December 2020
After months of continuous increase, the most recent epidemiological data indicate that the number of notified cases has just begun to decrease overall in the EU/EEA and the UK. However, national notification rates show variable trends across countries and transmission rates remain high in most part of Europe. In the week from 23 to 29 November 2020, 30 out of 31 countries had a situation of ‘serious concern’.
High levels of transmission are a threat for healthcare capacity due to the increase of healthcare demand and the risk that more healthcare workers might be sick and isolated or quarantined. The bed and ICU occupancy rates are still increasing or remain high in many countries, and further increases may challenge healthcare capacity.
This document contains summary information on the latest projections from the IHME model on COVID-19 in the European Region. The model was run on December 03, 2020.
The end-of-year festive season is traditionally associated with activities such as social gatherings, shopping and travelling,which would pose significant additional risks for intensified transmission of SARS-CoV-2. An aggravating factor is that there are reports of what has been described as ‘pandemic fatigue’, with some people becoming de-motivated to follow recommended protective measures, especially during this period.
2 December 2020
Today, the Commission adopted a strategy for sustainably managing the pandemic over the coming winter months, a period that can bring a risk of increased transmission of the virus owing to specific circumstances such as indoor gatherings. The strategy focuses on physical distancing and limiting social contacts, testing and contact tracing, safe travel, healthcare capacity and personnel, pandemic fatigue and mental health, and national vaccination strategies.
The BMJ Opinion
A call for equitable distribution of covid-19 vaccines
As the UK approves the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the authors call for an inclusive approach to vaccine allocation.
28 November 2020
Offline: Europe and COVID-19—struggling with tragedy</->
This editorial, written by Richard Horton, sheds light on the political crisis surrounding the pandemic
25 November 2020
Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) are WHO-classified teams of health-care professionals who can be deployed to provide immediate assistance to countries and territories during natural disasters, outbreaks and emergencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for EMTs surged across different regions, and WHO facilitated the transfer of knowledge and practices in the spirit of solidarity.
The European Commission approved a sixth contract under the EU Vaccines Strategy, this time with the pharmaceutical company Moderna. The contract provides for the initial purchase of 80 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 80 million doses, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19.
21 November 2020
This editorial sheds light on the necessity to develop and implement an effective vaccine, stresses the financial interests of the companies developing the vaccines, and underlines the great challenges posed by the unknown of a still young pandemic.
20 November 2020
This opinion, written by Charlie Weller, explores why is it important to keep working on and investing in the hundreds of Covid-19 vaccines still in development.
19 November 2020
This ECDC document is intended to facilitate further discussions between Member States with the aim of reaching agreement on the criteria to be used for the selection of rapid antigen tests, as well as scenarios and settings during which it is appropriate to use rapid antigen tests. This document is also intended to support clinical validations of rapid antigen tests.
18 November 2020
The European Commission adopted a recommendation on the use of rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19.
The recommendation provides guidance on how to select rapid antigen tests, when they are appropriate and who should perform them. It also calls for validation and mutual recognition of tests and their results.
This document aims to help public health authorities in EU/EEA countries and the UK in their tracing and management of persons, including healthcare workers, who have had contact with COVID-19 cases.
14 November 2020
This review discusses what is currently known about human humoral and cellular immune responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and relate this knowledge to the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase 3 clinical trials.
13 November 2020
The Commission has signed a grant of 1 M€ to support the conduct of a clinical