COVID-19 - Sustaining EU Preparedness and Response: Looking ahead

EESC opinion: COVID-19 - Sustaining EU Preparedness and Response: Looking ahead

Key points



  • believes that the EU needs to develop an immediate response capability, to be able to swiftly react to the health emergencies. Such a strategy should include all elements of prevention (vaccination, epidemiological measures, education, communication, etc.), treatment (medicinal products, patient care, medical rehabilitation, care, etc.), rehabilitation (at the workplace, school) and long-term care (focusing on those suffering from long COVID);
  • considers vaccination as one of the pillars of prevention and thinks the EU vaccination strategy should be updated and adapted according to ongoing developments;
  • considers crucial to ensure test to detect COVID-19 are reliable and representative in epidemiological terms, to provide useful reference points for a rapid response. Rapid antigen tests should meet the performance criteria indicated in the dedicated EU list;
  • highlights the importance of ventilation as measure of prevention and recommends continued mask-wearing in highly frequented and poorly ventilated rooms, on public transport, as well as social distancing and use of hand disinfectants;
  • thinks that epidemiological surveillance should be refocused on reliable estimates of infection intensity in the community, on the impact of serious illness and the efficacy of vaccines. Member States should develop strategies to restore sentinel surveillance systems based on primary and secondary treatment of acute respiratory infections, and complement this by strengthening other monitoring systems such as waste water monitoring. A single reporting system should be developed jointly by the EU and the Member States;
  • recommends organising awareness raising activities to facilitate understanding among citizens of the measures adopted and their importance. The EU and WHO could provide material for these activities;
  • recommends that the Member States set up a monitoring and rating system to detect fake news and label certified information, which should be available in the citizens' mother tongue;
  • recommends preparing a protocol covering all tasks related to treatment, which would be regularly updated and available online, in all the official languages of the EU. Rehabilitation should have a prominent role in the protocol and be should be offered by the relevant health services, either at school or at the workplace.