When the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 global pandemic in March 2020, nobody imagined that, in a matter of weeks, it would become one of the deadliest health emergencies in history.
Since then, we have managed to develop effective vaccines in record time, thanks to a global economic and research effort rarely seen. As a result, over 70% of the EU adult population is now fully vaccinated and better protected against COVID-19. However, people continue to fall ill as the virus mutates into new variants, which means that vaccination cannot be the only answer: we need therapeutics. These new treatments play a key role in saving lives, freeing up capacity in Intensive Care Units and treating both patients living with long-COVID or those that, for a variety of given reasons, cannot be vaccinated.
The European Commission launched its EU Therapeutics Strategy in May 2021 with the goal of having up to five new therapeutics available by the end of the year. However, the strong focus on vaccination has caused a lack of visibility on the therapeutics debate, despite having one treatment available and five more having applied for marketing authorisation.
In a new flagship event, the EPP Group will put COVID-19 therapeutics under the spotlight, bringing together a European Commissioner, relevant National Government representatives, research and innovation scientists, the healthcare industry, medical doctors, patients' organisations and patients. We want to address a reality that thousands of Europeans are facing, such as long-COVID, and analyse how to deal with the long-term consequences of the pandemic at EU level. Our focus will be on research and the collaborative search for therapeutics and increased cooperation between Member States, with the aim of identifying new tools to scale up the availability of therapeutics and improve diagnosis efficiency.
Putting health at the core of European politics is part of our commitment to EU citizens. We did it first with the fight against cancer and, more recently, in our battle for a true European Health Union. Now, focusing on COVID-19 therapeutics, we want to go a step further to improve patients' lives and keep the virus at bay.
15.00 - 15.10 Introductory remarks by:
Angelika NIEBLER MEP, Head of the German Delegation of the EPP Group
Evangelos MEIMARAKIS MEP, Vice-Chair of the EPP Group, Responsible for relations with the National Parliaments
Keynote: Stella KYRIAKIDES, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
15.10 - 16.00 Scaling-up the availability of COVID-19 therapeutics
Cristian BUSOI MEP, Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)
Emer COOKE, Executive Director European Medicines Agency (EMA)
Representative of Pfizer
Dr. Kim KJØLLER, CEO of UNION therapeutics
16.00 - 16.50 Ways of increasing diagnosis efficiency
Dr. Christiaan KEIJZER, Vice-President of the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME)
Prof. Maurizio CECCONI, President of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM), Head of the Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Department at the Humanitas Research Hospital, Milan, Italy
Representative of the European Patients Forum
16:50 - 17:00 Concluding remarks by Peter LIESE MEP, EPP Group Coordinator of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI)