EU set to move away from emergency phase of Covid-19 pandemic

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) – The European Commission is set to say the EU has entered a brand new post-emergency phase of the pandemic wherein testing must be focused and monitoring of Covid-19 instances must be related to sample-based flu surveillance, in accordance to a draft doc seen by Reuters.

The shift comes amid a gradual drop of instances and a fall within the quantity of deaths linked to Covid-19, thanks to the unfold of the much less virulent Omicron variant and the immunisation of over 70 per cent of the EU inhabitants, with half of the inhabitants having obtained additionally a booster shot.

“This Communication puts forward an approach for the management of the pandemic in the coming months, moving from emergency to a more sustainable mode,” the EU draft doc says.

The Commission had no remark.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is in cost of declaring a pandemic and the tip of it, a move that has huge authorized implications for a big selection of sectors, together with insurers and vaccine makers. The UN company has mentioned the pandemic will not be over.

The EU’s doc is non-binding and comes with clear warnings that “Covid-19 is here to stay”, seemingly with the emergence of new variants, and due to this fact “vigilance and preparedness remain essential”.

The draft doc, ready by Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and set to be adopted on Wednesday (April 27), warns that new surges are potential and recommends EU governments sustain their guard and be prepared to return to emergency measures if wanted.

However, it additionally acknowledges {that a} new phase has began and {that a} new method is required to monitor the pandemic.

That signifies that mass testing, whereby folks with signs and their contacts should endure a take a look at, has been already dropped in some EU states, in stark distinction with insurance policies at the moment utilized in China the place giant cities are subjected to lockdowns and common mass testing after the detection of few instances.

Surveillance

The Commission recognises this shift, noting that much less testing may make it tougher to interpret epidemiological knowledge.

That is in keeping with warnings from the WHO head General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who on Tuesday urged nations to keep surveillance of coronavirus infections, saying the world was “blind” to how the virus was spreading as a result of of falling charges of testing..

To deal with this example, Brussels encourages the introduction of extra refined methods of detecting outbreaks.

“Targeted diagnostic testing should be put in place,” the draft doc says, noting that new testing methods must be designed to guarantee they hold offering helpful indications on epidemiological tendencies.

For this goal, precedence teams for testing must be recognized, together with these shut to outbreaks, folks in danger of creating extreme Covid-19 and medical workers and others who’re in common contact with weak populations.

Surveillance of the virus must also be tailored, with an elevated concentrate on genomic sequencing to spot potential new variants, and fewer consideration on mass reporting of instances.

“The objective of surveillance should no longer be based on the identification and reporting of all cases, but rather on obtaining reliable estimates of the intensity of community transmission, of the impact of severe disease and on vaccine effectiveness,” the doc says.

It suggests establishing a surveillance system related to that used to monitor seasonal flu, wherein a restricted quantity of chosen healthcare suppliers gather and share related knowledge.

Vaccines proceed to stay important within the combat in opposition to Covid-19, the doc says, recommending states take into account methods to increase vaccination amongst youngsters aged 5 and over earlier than the beginning of subsequent faculty yr.

The Commission warns that immunisations are under 15 per cent amongst youngsters between 5 and 9, the youngest age group for which Covid-19 vaccines have been authorised in Europe. That compares to over 70 per cent of teenagers aged 15 to 17, the doc says.

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