November 27, 2022

The European Fee is ready to say the EU has entered a brand new post-emergency section of the pandemic wherein testing must be focused and monitoring of COVID-19 circumstances must be much like sample-based flu surveillance, in accordance with a draft doc seen by Reuters.

The shift comes amid a gradual drop of circumstances and a fall within the variety of deaths linked to COVID-19, due to the unfold of the much less virulent Omicron variant and the immunisation of over 70% of the EU inhabitants, with half of the inhabitants having acquired additionally a booster shot.

“This Communication places ahead an strategy for the administration of the pandemic within the coming months, transferring from emergency to a extra sustainable mode,” the EU draft doc says.

The Fee had no remark.

The World Well being Group (WHO) is accountable for declaring a pandemic and the top of it, a transfer that has huge authorized implications for a big number of sectors, together with insurers and vaccine makers. The U.N. 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 right here to remain”, doubtless with the emergence of recent variants, and subsequently “vigilance and preparedness stay important.”

The draft doc, ready by Well being Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and set to be adopted on Wednesday, warns that new surges are doable and recommends EU governments sustain their guard and be able to return to emergency measures if wanted.

Nevertheless, it additionally acknowledges {that a} new section has began and {that a} new strategy is required to observe the pandemic.

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That signifies that mass testing, whereby folks with signs and their contacts should bear 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 massive cities are subjected to lockdowns and common mass testing after the detection of few circumstances.


The Fee acknowledges this shift, noting that much less testing might make it more durable to interpret epidemiological knowledge.

That’s in step with warnings from the WHO head Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who on Tuesday urged international locations to take care of surveillance of coronavirus infections, saying the world was “blind” to how the virus was spreading due to falling charges of testing. [L2N2WO1SR].

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

“Focused diagnostic testing must be put in place,” the draft doc says, noting that new testing methods must be designed to make sure they preserve offering helpful indications on epidemiological developments.

For this objective, precedence teams for testing must be recognized, together with these near outbreaks, folks liable to growing extreme COVID-19 and medical workers and others who’re in common contact with weak populations.

Surveillance of the virus also needs to be tailored, with an elevated concentrate on genomic sequencing to identify doable new variants, and fewer consideration on mass reporting of circumstances.

“The target of surveillance ought to not be primarily based on the identification and reporting of all circumstances, however moderately on acquiring dependable estimates of the depth of group transmission, of the influence of extreme illness and on vaccine effectiveness,” the doc says.

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It suggests establishing a surveillance system much like that used to observe seasonal flu, wherein a restricted variety of chosen healthcare suppliers accumulate and share related knowledge.

Vaccines proceed to stay important within the combat in opposition to COVID-19, the doc says, recommending states contemplate methods to spice up vaccination amongst kids aged 5 and over earlier than the beginning of subsequent college yr.

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