EU may terminate vaccine purchase agreement with French drugmaker Valneva

A manufacturer of one of the four COVID-19 vaccines currently under rolling review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) received notice from the European Commission that the advance purchase agreement of over 24 million doses might be terminated.

First European Parliament’s COVID committee meeting reveals broad scope of topics ahead

The very first meeting in the European Parliament’s new COVID-19 committee (COVI), did not bring about any substantial debate, but revealed the broad range of topics MEPs wish to address in the quest to collect lessons learnt from the pandemic.

Half of hospitalised COVID-19 patients in China still have symptoms after two years

A follow-up study found that two years after being hospitalised with COVID-19 in China, over half still have at least one symptom. 

ECDC and EASA scrap mandatory mask-wearing on flights

Two EU agencies governing aviation safety and disease control have on Wednesday (11 May) announced that mandatory medical mask-wearing on flights is no longer recommended but that rules will be left to the discretion of each airline. 

EU lawmakers back one-year extension of COVID certificate

EU lawmakers backed on Thursday (5 May) a proposal by the EU Parliament's civil liberties committee to extend until June 2023 the EU's digital COVID certificate, set to expire this summer.

Widely criticised IP waiver text to be presented to all WTO members

A widely criticised document produced in international negotiations is set to be presented to all 164 World Trade Organisation (WTO) members in the next step of talks on a waiver on intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

How to avoid reverting to pandemic day one amid vaccination fatigue

Living with the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years, Europeans are falling into "pandemic and vaccination fatigue", but health organisations worldwide are concerned about how new variants could set the world back to day one, as low-income countries reached only 15% of vaccination coverage.

EU estimates up to 80% of population has had COVID

The European Commission said that between 60% and 80% of the EU population was estimated to have been infected with COVID-19, as the bloc enters a post-emergency phase in which mass reporting of cases was no longer necessary.

Beijing to test 20 mln for COVID as Shanghai lockdown misery looms large

Three-quarters of Beijing's 22 million people began lining up for COVID-19 tests on Tuesday as authorities in the Chinese capital raced to stamp out an outbreak and avert the kind of city-wide lockdown that has shrouded Shanghai for a month.
Health 22-04-2022

Industry disputes claims that waiving IP rights will ensure availability of medicines

The European Commission is leading talks on a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights on COVID vaccines and treatments. However, critics from the pharmaceutical industry argue that changes to the current IP system could jeopardise research and development in their sector.

Social distancing worst COVID-19 restriction for mental health, finds studies

New research suggests that the main cause of mental health decline during the COVID-19 pandemic was social distancing rules.

WHO ‘strongly’ recommends Paxlovid to fight non-severe COVID-19

The World Health Organisation (WHO) called Paxlovid, a Pfizer’s therapeutic, the best therapeutic choice for high-risk  COVID-19 patients to date but the “strong recommendation” raises concerns that it may be out of reach for low- and middle-income countries.

New special committee on COVID-19 elects chair

Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt was elected at a constitutive meeting on Tuesday (19 April). She will head up the work of the European Parliament’s new special COVID-19 committee, with the goal of better preparing the EU for future pandemics.
Health 14-04-2022

EU defends IP waiver compromise amid pressure on India, South Africa to reject it

A broad international platform of activists, unions and experts has urged India and South Africa to reject the leaked compromise on intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, which the European Commission considers the ‘most promising path’ to sort out the issue.

COVAX asks for additional funding in case new COVID variant emerges

It has been over a year since the COVAX vaccination initiative, led by Gavi, delivered its first shipment. Recently supply outran demand for the first time. The initiative's focus is now turning towards fundraising to prepare for future variants.

EU health agencies: fourth COVID dose only for over 80s and immunocompromised

European health agencies said that the fourth dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, also known as a second booster shot, is currently only being considered for people who are immunocompromised or over 80 years of age. 

Eurobarometer: Majority of unvaccinated say nothing can convince them to get COVID jab

The majority of unvaccinated people in an EU-wide Eurobarometer report said nothing can convince them to get a COVID jab. Overall, the majority is in favour of vaccination and half of the respondents are satisfied with the EU's vaccination strategy. 

While EU countries scrap COVID restrictions, WHO calls for caution

Across the EU, member states are removing COVID-19 measures, including mandatory mask-wearing indoors. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that countries should remain cautious, especially due to the transmissibility of the BA.2 omicron subvariant.

EU ministers eyes coordinated approach for second COVID booster

A group of EU countries has urged the European Commission to promote a coordinated approach in administering the fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose as some differences among member states are already looming large.
Global Europe 25-03-2022

Brussels Summits, Biden, Von der Leyen and a new COVID variant

This week is one of the busiest weeks for Brussels and international politics, as it’s the first time the “capital of Europe '' is hosting so many leaders at once for NATO, G7 and EU summits.

ECDC chief: We must brace for next winter amid less restrictions, deaths

Europe is easing restrictions, closing vaccination centres and seeing declining death rates, but COVID-19 cases are rising, and we must be ready for possible future variants, according to the EU's infectious disease agency director.
EU-Africa 22-03-2022

South Africa urged to reject EU offer on COVID waiver

Leading economists have urged South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to reject an EU and US compromise that would provide a temporary waiver on the intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines, warning that “a bad deal is worse than no deal".

EMA says not enough evidence for a second COVID booster

There is not yet enough evidence to justify additional COVID-19 boosters, according to the European Medical Authority (EMA) Head of Vaccine Strategy Marco Cavaleri, while BioNTech Pfizer have already applied for authorisation for additional jabs in the US

New challenges ahead as provisional compromise on IP waivers is reached in WTO

News of a provisional compromise to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines between the EU, USA, India and South Africa in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), leaves out treatments for COVID-19.