The European Commission has presented a new European bio-defence preparedness plan for COVID-19 variants, the HERA Incubator. This is designed to help contain the impact of the new virus variants.
The goal is global collaboration among researchers, biotech companies, manufacturers and public authorities to detect new variants, provide incentives to develop new and adapted vaccines, speed up the approval process for these vaccines and expand production capacity. The HERA Incubator will also serve as a blueprint for the EU's long-term preparedness for health emergencies.
To improve preparedness, develop effective vaccines against variants, and increase industrial production, the following actions are to be taken:
- Detect, analyse and assess variants
The development of specialized tests for new variants and the promotion of genome sequencing in member states, is to be supported with EU funding of at least EUR 75 million. In addition, stepping up research and data exchange on variants will be supported with EU funding of EUR 150 million.
To share data and involve children and young adults in clinical trials, the establishment of the COVID-19 clinical trials network, VACCELERATE, is intended to help. VACCELERATE involves institutions from 16 EU member states and five associated countries.
- Speed up regulatory approval of adapted vaccines
- Ramp up productionof COVID-19 vaccines.
The announced activities are also expected to prepare the ground for the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
For more information, see the European Commission Communication "HERA Incubator: Anticipating together the threat of COVID-19 variants" and the European Commission Press Release.