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Public health

Safe and effective vaccination

Find more information about available COVID-19 vaccines and the overall EU vaccine strategy:

Treatments and testing for COVID-19

The European Commission has proposed strategies for COVID-19 testing and is supporting the development of treatments.

Protecting the health of Europeans

The Commission has put forward initiatives to protect the health of Europeans by improving crisis preparedness and response as well as the long-term resilience of health systems.

Supporting healthcare systems

Cross-border health cooperation

The European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre plays a key role in relief efforts and stands ready 24/7 to assist all countries, in Europe and beyond.

Guidelines on cross-border healthcare cooperation between national, regional and local authorities aim to 

  • facilitate the transfer of patients from one Member State to another
  • allow qualified medical personnel to offer their assistance in other EU countries
  • relieve the burden that the pandemic has placed on national health systems
  • arrange for patient mobility across borders
  • provide steps for the reimbursement of healthcare costs
  • encourage national authorities to use existing bilateral and regional agreements.

Requests for cross-border healthcare assistance will be coordinated by the Health Security Committee, chaired by the Commission, and the EU Early Warning and Response System

 

EU Solidarity Fund for coronavirus health emergencies

As part of the exceptional EU response to the coronavirus pandemic, the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund was extended in March 2020 to cover major public health emergencies.

In March 2021, the European Commission proposed an overall package of almost €530 million in financial support under the EU Solidarity Fund, as an additional financial contribution to 17 Member States and 3 accession countries, in their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. On 20 May 2021, the Council and the European Parliament approved the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund in line with the Commission’s proposal.

On 19 January 2022, the Commission completed the payment of the EU Social Fund assistance to Member States for a total amount of €385.49 million. The 17 Member States and 3 accession countries to request support were: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and Spain; and Albania, Montenegro and Serbia. This comes in addition to €132.7 million paid out to Member States that requested an EU Solidarity Fund advance payment in 2020.

EU Solidarity Fund support in fighting the coronavirus pandemic

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is an integral part of the preparedness and response to the pandemic. In the EU, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is the key body that assesses the risk of viral spread and the impact on public health.

The ECDC provides:

ECDC Questions & Answers on COVID-19 

ECDC guidelines for non-pharmaceutical interventions

Early lessons learned from the pandemic

On 15 June 2021, the European Commission presented a Communication on the early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, taking stock and drawing 10 lessons on how to improve action at EU and national level for better anticipation of, and earlier detection of public health risks, enhanced contingency planning, and swifter and more effective joint responses at all levels. The list is not exhaustive, but simply provides a first snapshot of what we already know can be done for the benefit of all Europeans.

Preparedness for the next phase of the pandemic

On 27 April 2022, the European Commission proposed new actions to manage the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the next one.

The currently lower levels of COVID-19 infection offer the EU countries the opportunity to strengthen their surveillance, healthcare systems, and their overall pandemic preparedness. In particular, the Commission invites Member States to:

  • Step up vaccination and boosting, taking the circulation of COVID-19 and the seasonal influenza into account
  • Support the development of the next generation of vaccines and therapeutics
  • Set up integrated monitoring systems that no longer are based on the identification and reporting of all COVID-19 cases, but rather on obtaining reliable and representative estimates
  • Continue targeted testing and sequencing to more accurately estimate variant circulation and detect new variants
  • Invest in the recovery of healthcare systems and assess the wider health impacts of the pandemic, including on mental health and delays in treatments and care
  • Better coordinate travel rules within the EU and with international partners
  • Intensify the fight against COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation
  • Continue to deploy global solidarity and improve global governance

The European Commission is also launching a tender under the EU FAB initiative to reserve capacities for manufacturing mRNA, protein and vector-based vaccines. This will reserve newly created manufacturing capacity for use in future health emergencies.

On 2 September 2022, the Commission proposed concrete measures to avoid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the upcoming autumn and winter season. In particular, the Commission encourages the EU countries to:

  • Improve the vaccine uptake of the primary vaccination course and first booster dose among eligible individuals.
  • Prioritise the administration of an additional booster dose for specific population groups, notably people aged 60 years and over and other eligible individuals of any age at risk of severe disease.
  • Combine COVID-19 and influenza vaccination campaigns. Accompany vaccination with regularly updated and clear communication, based on epidemiological developments, behavioural insights, and public perception.
  • Ensuring clear communication to citizens about the benefits of vaccination.

In addition, it is important that all Member States are prepared to reintroduce public health measures based on clear thresholds. Depending on the epidemiological situations, non-pharmaceutical interventions, for example face masks or limiting the size of gatherings, to limit the spread of the virus remain a crucial part of the toolbox of Member States.

The Communication also highlights the importance of strong healthcare systems and capacities in all Member States. Health systems' preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks and other types of shocks must be improved. Further measures to support the good mental health of healthcare workers and the overall population should also be taken.

Documents

27 APRIL 2022
Communication: COVID-19 - Sustaining EU Preparedness and Response: Looking ahead
English
(HTML)
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1 DECEMBER 2021
Communication: Addressing together current and new COVID-19 challenges
English
(890.25 KB - PDF)
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15 JUNE 2021
Communication on the early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic
English
(329.25 KB - PDF)
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11 NOVEMBER 2020
Communication: Building a European Health Union - preparedness and resilience
English
(239.38 KB - HTML)
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28 OCTOBER 2020
Communication on additional COVID-19 response measures
English
(182.65 KB - HTML)
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28 OCTOBER 2020
Coronavirus resurgence - New measures
English
(5.95 KB - HTML)
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8 APRIL 2020
Guidance on the collection and transfusion of convalescent COVID-19 plasma
English
(PDF)
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7 APRIL 2020
Guidelines on the optimisation of supply of medicines during the COVID-19 outbreak
English
(149.71 KB - HTML)
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3 APRIL 2020
Guidelines on EU Emergency Assistance in Cross-BorderCooperationin Heathcare related to the COVID-19 crisis
English
(154.01 KB - HTML)
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2 APRIL 2020
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2017/745 on medical devices as regards the dates of application of certain of its provisions
English
(151.53 KB - HTML)
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18 MARCH 2020
COVID-19: EU recommendations for community measures
English
(569.08 KB - PDF)
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18 MARCH 2020
COVID-19: EU recommendations for testing strategies
English
(302.78 KB - PDF)
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16 MARCH 2020
Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services
English
(146.6 KB - HTML)
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28 APRIL 2020
Guidance on the management of clinical trials during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic
English
(PDF)
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7 MAY 2020
Guidance on free movement of health professionals and minimum harmonisation of training in relation to COVID-19 emergency measures
English
(134.43 KB - HTML)
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