US and EU agree on further measures to fight bioterror

The US and the EU agreed on 7 November at a
meeting in Ottawa to work more closely to combat the threat of
bioterrorism. Reuters reports that, along with Japan, Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and the UK, they agreed to
improve research co-operation and look into the possibility of
jointly acquiring vaccines and antibiotics.

Much of the health ministers meeting focused on the threat
from smallpox with the US indicating that it intends to
stockpile 300 million doses of a smallpox vaccine. Canada
is also looking at increasing its existing stockpile whilst
Japan said it would obtain 2.5 million doses of the
smallpox vaccine which it sees as enough to deal with a
smallpox outbreak in a large urban centre.

Reuters quotes Canadian Health Minister
Allan Rock as saying: “We agreed that working together
presents an opportunity for us to influence cost and that’s
something we’ll be taking into account…(common
procurement) is one of the possibilities we discussed.”

Before leaving for the meeting, EU
Commissioner for Health David Byrne had emphasised the
importance of international co-operation. “We need to come
up with a plan for improving health security – and we also
have to coordinate international cooperation with our
partners the candidate countries, the US, the WHO and the
OECD”, he said.

 

The European Commission adopted an action plan to respond
to potential threats of bio and nuclear terrorism on 12
October. The plan aims to increase co-operation among EU
Member States, candidate countries and the European
Economic Area as a way of protecting European citizens from
potential biochemical threats.

 

The EU will adopt another package of measures at a
conference organised by the Belgian Presidency in the
beginning of December aimed at dealing with short, medium
and long-term threats to the EU from nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons.

Canada has taken on the role of
co-ordinator in the efforts to increase co-operation
between the countries who attended the Ottawa meeting. A
new ministerial-level meeting will take place in the UK in
the near future.

 

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