On 12 July 2023, EUCOPE’s HERA Steering Group released its White Paper “EU-wide Stockpiling: Better Preparedness for Cross-Border Health Threats.”
Stockpiling of critical biomedical countermeasures is crucial for an effective EU preparedness against priority cross-border health threats with a potentially large health and societal impact. In EUCOPE’s view, stockpiling of biomedical countermeasures is important, especially for products against known health threats that are needed more quickly than they can be produced or imported during an outbreak. An EU-wide coordinated approach and significant additional investments (including vaccines) at EU and national level are necessary to reach adequate preparedness.
A Holistic Approach to Health Emergency Preparedness
As serious health emergencies and threats may not limit themselves to one Member State, crossborder preparedness can only be effective if an adequate preparation at EU-level is matched by the necessary measures within the Member States. Highly pathogenic diseases pose a significant risk to patients in a Member State and across borders. Especially for dangerous infectious diseases or highly disruptive threats that spread easily, it is important to contain an epidemic as quickly as possible. For these types of diseases, a minimum local and regional stockpile is needed not only to treat people, but also to prevent the disease from further spreading. In case of a chemical attack, the time to treat is much shorter, making a local or regional stockpile for priority threats a prerequisite.
In the White Paper, EUCOPE takes into consideration several issues before deciding upon the necessity and prioritization of medical stocks and provides four (4) recommendations to scale up stockpiling to better prepare Europe against cross-border health threats:
- Effective countermeasures
- Immediate need versus mid and long-term need
- Choosing optimal and safe locations for stockpiles
- Clear priorities and additional funding