Recent developments

European flags

Keep informed of recent international developments that may impact the UK health and care sector. This includes the latest updates on guidance and international discussions. 

European Union

  • NEW: The European Commission has signed a joint procurement framework contract for the supply of up to 500,000 treatment courses of Veklury, the brand name for Remdesivir, and the opportunity to increase supply. The signatories include all EU countries, Norway and Iceland, the UK as well as six candidate countries and potential candidates. Veklury is at this stage the only medicine with a conditional marketing authorisation in the EU for treatment of COVID-19 patients needing oxygen supply.
  • NEW: ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) has released updated guidance on infection prevention and control and preparedness for COVID-19 in healthcare settings.
  • NEW: The European Medicines Agency's human medicines committee  has started the first 'rolling review' of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is being developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford. 
  • ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) has launched a new COVID-19 situation dashboard, providing users with a simpler, more user-friendly platform to explore the latest available COVID-19 data from Europe and worldwide. 
  • On 18 September, the Commission published a set of recommendations for a common COVID-19 testing approach in Europe, as a follow-up initiative of the July   Communication on Short-Term EU Health Preparedness for COVID-19 Outbreaks. The recommendations set out concrete actions to support countries in the planning and organisation of their testing efforts during the different stages of the pandemic. 
  • On 18 September, the Commission announced that it will support with €15.7 million an ambitious new research initiative, EU-RESPONSE, which will establish a clinical research network to treat COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases. The funding is part of the Commission's €1.4 billion pledge, from which €1 billion come from Horizon 2020, for coronavirus research and innovation directed towards the development of vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools. 
  • The European Medicines Agency has endorsed use of dexamethasone in COVID-19 patients on oxygen or mechanical ventilation. 
  • On 31 August, the European Commission joined the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) for equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines. The Commission also announced a contribution of €400 million in guarantees to support COVAX and its objectives in the context of the Coronavirus Global Response.
  • As part of the EU's efforts to tackle the coronavirus crisis, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology is announcing the EIT Crisis Response Initiative results: €60 million awarded to 62 innovation projects and 145 entrepreneurs from 32 countries to tackle the pandemic and ensuing crisis. 
  • The European Medicines Agency and the Heads of Medicines Agencies have developed a joint strategy for the next five years that is released for a two-month public consultation. The draft strategy details how the agencies’ network can continue to enable the supply of safe and effective medicines that meet patients’ needs in the face of challenges posed by developments in science, medicine, digital technologies, globalisation as well as emerging health threats, such as COVID-19.
  • On 16 July, The European Commission and the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) launched a joint plan of action on short-term EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks with immediate effect.
  • On 17 June, the European Commission presented a  European strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of vaccines against COVID-19. It proposes a joint EU approach and builds on the mandate received from EU health ministers. Further detail on the EU's response to COVID-19 is here.
  • On 3 July, the European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorisation for the medicine Remdesivir, making it the first medicine authorised at EU level for treatment against COVID-19. This authorisation, under an accelerated procedure, comes after a recommendation by the European Medicines Agency, followed by an endorsement by the Member States.
  • On June 27, the European Commission, together with Global Citizen, hosted the Global Goal: Unite for our Future summit, which brought the total pledged under the Coronavirus Global Response initiative since 4 May to almost €16bn. The money will help accelerate the development and deployment of universally available and affordable vaccination, treatment and diagnostics. 
  • The public health crisis caused by the coronavirus has pushed the European Commission to play a more active role in health. The European Commission received on 12 June a political mandate from member states to use €2.4 billion from the EU budget to sign contracts with pharmaceutical companies working on possible vaccines.
  • The European Medicines Agency has issued new guidance that includes a reminder for healthcare professionals of the risks of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
  •  The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has presented a report of preliminary 30-day forecasts of COVID-19 in the EU/EEA and UK for the expected number of cases, deaths and hospitalised cases (under a set of assumptions) to support the assessment of the impact of de-escalation of measures.
  • Following on from the MHRA guidance on Managing clinical trials during coronavirus (COVID-19), the EU has issued revised guidance to ensure that clinical trials can continue taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. This provides a set of recommendations on flexible measures (for exclusive use during the pandemic) that sponsors can take to mitigate disruption of clinical research in Europe without compromising data quality and safety of trial participants. 
  • The European Commission recently launched the COVID19-CMSS web conferencing support system for the clinical management of COVID19 patients. The system is available to all EU hospitals treating complex COVID19 cases and provides a communication IT platform allowing clinicians to consult other clinicians from all Europe on the more complex cases, exchange information and diagnosis. Further information is contained in the slides and factsheet.
  • ’The European Commission published the EU toolbox for the use of mobile apps for contact tracing and warning in response to the pandemic. The toolbox sets out essential requirements for these apps and is accompanied by guidance on protection of personal data and limiting intrusiveness.
  • The MHRA has made CPRD, a primary health care database covering 20 per cent of the UK population, available to UK and EU researchers. MHRA also shared UK studies that will inform COVID-19 management. Updates from other countries can be found from the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities.

Other international collaboration

World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Visit the WHO's COVID-19 website for the latest updates on COVID in Europe with top news stories found HERE.
  • The European Observatory’s top story is on understanding person-centredness in health systems and how and it has become ever more important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, can be found HERE.
  • WHO has published a scientific brief with new criteria for releasing COVID-19 patients from isolation.
  • WHO and other international leaders speak out about their concerns regarding older people in the context of COVID-19.
  • The WHO has released a factsheet on: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Vulnerable Populations in the COVID-19 Response in the WHO European Region.
  • In collaboration with the European Commission and European Observatory, WHO has released a collation of resources regarding health systems responses to COVID-19. WHO has also launched a global database for literature on COVID-19.
  • Member countries of the World Health Organization adopted a resolution on 19 May on the coronavirus response, without objections. 
  • WHO has joined forces with the UK government communications teams and the Prime Minister’s office for an awareness campaign about the risks of incorrect and false information about the pandemic. 'Stop The Spread' is a global campaign, rolled out on BBC World television, website and apps during May and June 2020.
  • WHO Europe has published guidance on strengthening health systems and rapidly reorganising service delivery to respond to COVID-19 while maintaining core essential services. Policy resources include recommendations for a well-aligned health system response, technical guidance and checklists, and planning and monitoring tools.

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