A new health authority was launched to reinforce the European Union’s (EU) capacity to respond to health emergencies.

The European Commission has created the “Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA)” to “prevent, detect and rapidly respond to health emergencies”, it said on Thursday.

“HERA is the EU’s response for both anticipating and managing emergencies,” said Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, at a press briefing.

Preparing for health emergencies involves intelligence-gathering and assessment; working on advanced research and development for medical countermeasures; boosting industrial capacity; procuring and distributing medical countermeasures; increasing stockpiling capacity and strengthening knowledge and skills, the Commission explained in a statement.

HERA will also put together EU FAB, a network of “ever warm” production capacities that can be mobilised at any time to ensure that the continent will rapidly begin manufacturing vaccines, medicines and equipment when required.

In crisis mode, the authority will ensure sufficient and timely deployment and monitoring of crisis countermeasures, act as a central purchasing body, and activate emergency measures and funding, and EU FAB manufacturing capacity.

The new health entity will work hand in hand with other EU health agencies, such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

It will receive 6 billion euros ($7.05 billion) over the 2022-2027 financing period from several EU programs, while private funding and EU member states’ own contributions will bring the total amount dedicated to HERA to 50 billion euros.

The new entity is an internal service of the European Commission, and will be fully operational by early 2022.



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