Opening Remarks by Commissioner Kyriakides at the EPSCO Council- Emerging Threats – Hepatitis and Monkeypox

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Chair, Ministers,

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we have now seen two other public health challenges emerge since early April.

We have seen an increase in hepatitis cases of unknown aetiology in children, with more than 400 cases now recorded in the WHO European region.

Furthermore, 21 EU and EEA countries have recently reported cases of monkeypox. At present, we are aware of around 900 cases and approximately 500 more cases have been reported worldwide.

There are still massive knowledge gaps on the severity of hepatitis, the transmission dynamics and effective response measures.

Monkeypox can be severe, especially for vulnerable people. The public health policies we introduce must avoid any kind of stigma and discrimination. That’s why we’re also working closely with the relevant civil society associations.

We need a coherent, well-coordinated European approach to these emerging threats.

I’m pleased to say that this is already underway.

The Health Security Committee has been instrumental in exchanging information rapidly and discussing measures. I thank you for your active participation and agreement to coordinate measures and messages.

Increased surveillance is key for monitoring both outbreaks. So I call on you regularly to provide data to the European Centre for Prevention and Disease Control.

We need to ensure that medical countermeasures are quickly available and accessible, aligned with the necessary regulatory flexibilities, wherever applicable.

We acted fast, and today we signed an agreement to purchase over 100 000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for Member States.

This means that, EU4Health, our new health programme, is being used to respond to a health emergency and to procure medical countermeasures for the first time. The Commission, via its Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority has purchased vaccines for monkeypox at wholesale prices, and will donate these to you. However, for the doses to be successfully delivered, we need you to grant Emergency Use Authorisation at national level.  The European Medicine Agency stands ready to assist.

Ministers,

As you can see, we are now able to better respond to these emerging threats at European level. This work will only continue now and intensify.

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