Italy needs new restrictions to avoid third, devastating COVID-19 wave – PM to paper – EU Reporter

Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:56 am

Good afternoon, and welcome health colleagues to the first European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) update of the week, as we move delightedly towards Christmas. EAPM has just released a leading paper on gene therapy more of this below, along with the customary updates, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

ATMPs push forward prospects for tackling severe disease

EAPM has released a paper on gene therapy, based on its recent policy discussion, Propelling Healthcare with Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products.Challenges confront the sector, complicating the translation from research into patient access. Scientific, clinical development and regulatory issues are compounded by limited experience with clinical and commercial use, limited manufacturing know-how, high costs, and difficulties in accessing development funding and investment.

Pricing and reimbursement and market access issues are an additional challenge, particularly in Europe, where unfamiliarity with the technology and uncer- tainty over the use of real-world evidence induce caution among clinicians, health technology assessment bodies and payers. There is a need for a review of the suitability of the regula- tory and market access framework for these products, focused development of data, public/ private partnerships, and fuller collaboration governments, doctors, insurers, patients, and pharmaceutical companies.

This paper makes specific recommendations for allstakeholders, ranging from early dialogue on potential products, linking of clinical data, and patient registries or standardization of control frameworks, to a comprehensive approach to evidencegeneration, assessment, pricing, and payment for ATMPs.The paper isavailable here.

5.1 billion secured for EU Health Programme

On 14 December, the biggest ever EU Health Programme and the rules to distribute its 5.1 billion funds were agreed. Negotiators of the European Parliament and EU member states struck a deal on the law setting up the European Unions so called 'EU4Health' Programme from 2021 onwards.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that Europe was not equipped to deal with a serious health crisis. During the first peak of the pandemic, we not only lacked doctors, nurses and medical staff, but also medicines and medical equipment. It must never happen again that a doctor must choose who lives or dies because the hospital does not have resources to help all," said the EPP Group's Cristian Silviu Buoi MEP, the lead negotiator for the European Parliament and a stronger support of EAPM.

"Therefore, the programme will allocate funds for the establishment of a reserve for essential crisis-relevant products, medical and healthcare staff, in synergy and complementarity with other EU instruments," he added. Requisite to the health programme that Buoi negotiated is an increase in health funding in the new EU long-term budget.

The EPP Group also wanted the programme to support the training of health staff, reduce health inequalities, support digitalization in the health-care sector, finance a masterplan against cancer and bring back the production of medicines to Europe.

WHO does not envisage COVID-19 vaccines being made mandatory

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not foresee countries making it mandatory for citizens to take the new COVID-19 vaccines which have been developed, an official said. I dont think we envisage any countries creating a mandate for vaccinations, Kate OBrien, the WHOs director of immunization vaccines and biologicals, told a news conference.

Pressure mounts on EU drug regulator to approve COVID-19 vaccine

Europes drug regulator is under increasing pressure to quickly approve the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Germanys BioNTech, officials said, as inoculations get started in Britain and the United States. The push underscores the frictions between regulators and governments wishing to curb the pandemic that has killed more than 1.6 million people worldwide. Four EU sources said that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has been under pressure from the European Commission and EU governments to approve vaccines more quickly. One EMA official said on 14December that pressure had increased on the agency from EU governments through usual channels of communications after 2 December, when the British regulator granted an emergency authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

UK health secretary announces discovery of new coronavirus variant

UK Health SecretaryMatt Hancock appeared in the House of Commons on Monday (14 December) to give an urgent statement to MPs on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK. He said experts haveidentified a new variant of COVID-19 which may be responsible for the "faster spread" in south-east England.

Hancock said: "Over the last few days, thanks to our world-class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the faster spread in the south of England."

He added: "Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants. We've currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the South of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas."

When asked if the new variant will impact the effectiveness of the vaccine, Hancock said: "The medical advice that we have is that it is highly unlikely that this new variant will impinge the vaccine and the impact of the vaccine. But we will know that in the coming days and weeks as the new strand is cultured at Porton Down and then the tests conducted upon it.

WHO a touch more circumspect

The World Health Organization is aware of the new variant of COVID-19 that has emerged in Britain, but there is no evidence the strain behaves differently to existing types of the virus, it said onMonday (14 December).We are aware of this genetic variant reported in 1,000 individuals in England, the WHOs top emergencies expert Mike Ryan told a news briefing in Geneva. Authorities are looking at its significance. We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time.

FDA authorizes vaccine following extreme Trump pressure

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday (11 December) gave emergency use authorization to the nations first coronavirus vaccine, launching what scientists hope will be a critical counteroffensive against a pathogen that has killed more than 290,000 Americans, shredded the nations social and political fabric and devastated the economy.

The historic authorization of thevaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for people age 16 and older, just 336 days after the genetic blueprint of a novel coronavirus was shared online by Chinese scientists, sets in motion a highly choreographed and complex distribution process aimed at speeding vaccines throughout the United States to curb the pandemic.

US President Donald Trump had put the FDA under extreme pressure to approve thevaccine, describing the organization as a slow, old turtle in a tweet. The FDA action came after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday told FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to be prepared to submit his resignation if the agency did not clear the vaccine by days end, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were notauthorized to discuss what happened.

And that is everything for the start of the week from EAPM dont forget to check our gene therapy paperhere,have an excellent week.

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Italy needs new restrictions to avoid third, devastating COVID-19 wave - PM to paper - EU Reporter

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