20 January 2022
The European health ministers will meet this Friday, 21 January 2022, via videoconference. Discussions will focus on sharing best practices for managing the crisis, as well as harmonising national strategies in particular vaccination strategies.
The spread of the Omicron variant through our continent has led to a rapid and generalised deterioration of the public health situation in Europe, with unprecedented levels of daily new cases.
Due to its rapid spread and impact on our health systems, the Omicron variant poses an elevated risk of destabilising social and economic life in the EU Member States. This has led them to revisit their quarantine and isolation recommendations.
Given this situation, several European countries have begun considering the evolution of their vaccination campaigns and some among them have already announced the decision to administer a 4th dose to certain population groups. Others are waiting for additional data before making a decision. In addition, the forthcoming arrival of vaccines adapted to the variants raises the question of their roll-out and of adapting vaccine strategies in the European Union.
Moreover, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant underscores the importance of global vaccination to avoid a resurgence of the epidemic.
A coordinated response from Member States is necessary to tackle this situation. This extraordinary meeting will allow all of the EU health ministers, as well as those from the European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) to share information regarding their nonpharmaceutical (stay-at-home measures, curfews, etc.) and pharmaceutical national strategies, in particular vaccination strategies. They will then debate the coordination of these strategies by discussing the administration of a 4th dose and the next joint vaccination procurement. At the international level, a reminder will be issued on the necessity of continuing to strongly support countries with inadequate access to vaccines, which is a shared priority in the Union.
The European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyryiakides, as well as representatives of European agencies and authorities, in particular the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), will participate in the discussions.
This event reflects the priorities set by the French Presidency for an enhanced European Health Union. Striving for greater coherence in the EU’s response regarding public health security and prevention, particularly as regards vaccination, remains a key condition for resilience of our health systems in the context of the ongoing pandemic.