Paulette Lenert at the Council of Health Ministers in Luxembourg: towards resilient European action in health crisis management

The first physical meeting of EU health ministers since March 6, 2020, this Council made it possible to note in general a clear improvement in the health situation obtained at the cost of a substantial collective effort, in particular as regards the incidence and hospitalization rate. The deployment of vaccination campaigns is advancing at a fast pace in the Member States, but, according to the Commissioner in charge of Health Stella Kyriakides, it would be premature to lower our guard. “We must vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. »Hammered the commissioner, joined by many delegations.

Indeed, if today 51% of European citizens have been able to benefit from a dose (same rate for Luxembourg) and 27% have a complete vaccination schedule (33% for Luxembourg), the risk represented by certain variants, more transmissible and, in some cases more pathogenic, calls for vigilance. According to the Commissioner, Member States must invest more in raising awareness among citizens so that they maintain a high level of confidence in vaccination and complete the vaccination schedule, while the Commission’s objective is to achieve a coverage rate 70% by the end of July. In the meantime, barrier gestures must continue to play an important role. For ECDC Director Andrea Ammon, it is necessary to advocate a gradual relaxation of the restrictions in place rather than a rapid and general lifting that could lead to a fourth wave. The European Medicines Agency has announced an opinion for the end of the month on the question of combining different types of vaccines (“mix-and-match”).

The introduction of the European Covid Certificate (EU DCC) was hailed as a success illustrating European solidarity. Put in place in a record time of barely two months, it represents a further step towards normality and illustrates the Union’s capacity to put in place concrete measures with added value. Another success of EU solidarity.

Like the vast majority of her counterparts, Minister Lenert called for a homogeneous approach to the criteria for issuing and accepting vaccination, testing and recovery certificates, especially with regard to the types of tests and accepted vaccines and their validity, in the interest of greater freedom of movement as summer approaches. “A coherent system will make it possible to maintain Europeans’ confidence in the Union’s ability to put in place a framework which works, which is easy to understand and which improves everyday life. The exchange between ministers also allowed the Luxembourg minister to present the CovidCheck regime. “As long as the virus is circulating, Member States must aim for the greatest possible coherence between their national measures and the Commission can help achieve this. »Launched Paulette Lenert.

The delegations gave their support to the new instruments which the EU wishes to acquire with the “Union for Health” Package, through a strengthened mandate from ECDC and EMA and an incubator aimed at promoting development of new vaccines adapted to variants. This mechanism will enable Europe to acquire a response capacity and improved resilience in the event of a cross-border health threat, while profiling itself as a world leader in crisis management. Commission Chairperson Ursula von der Leyen will present a report today on lessons learned from the COVID crisis.

The next Council of Health Ministers will take place on December 7 in Brussels.

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