Tag Archives: COVID19

EU: 60% vaccinated adults

Brussels 02.07.2021 Today,the European Commission president announced that 60% of all adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. “Full vaccination protects us from #COVID19 and its variants” the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.
“Let’s stay vigilant. Let’s get vaccinated! For our own health – and to protect others” the EU top official called.

Pfizer company is raising the price of its Covid19 product in Europe by over 25% under a newly negotiated contract with the European Union (EU), according to a report from the Financial Times (FT) newspaper. Competitor Moderna is also hiking the price of its vaccine in Europe by roughly 10%.

Pfizer’s Covid19 biological agent is already expected to generate the most revenue of any medicine in a single year—about $33.5 billion for 2021 alone, according to the pharmaceutical company’s own assessment. However the company says it’s providing poorer countries the vaccine at a highly discounted price.

Pfizer company previously charged the EU €15.50 per dose for its vaccine, which is based on new revolutionary mRNA technology. The company will now charge €19.50 for 2.1 billion doses that will be delivered through the year 2023, according to the FT newspaper.

EU aid to Iran and Pakistan vulnerable

Brussels 13.07.2021 This week the Commission has announced renewed support for those most in need in Iran and Pakistan with €22 million in humanitarian aid. This package will assist those most affected by man-made crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate induced and other natural disasters in the region.

“Iran and Pakistan are both highly vulnerable to recurrent natural hazards, with both countries’ situations aggravated by a severe coronavirus pandemic. Iran and Pakistan are also the principal host countries of Afghan refugees worldwide. The EU is boosting support to humanitarian organisations in both countries at this critical time” Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said.

Of the €22 million allocation, €15 million will focus on supporting humanitarian organisations working in Iran to assist the most vulnerable Iranians and Afghans in the country. Part of the funding will support the country’s battle against the severe coronavirus pandemic, including the provision of urgent medical equipment. EU humanitarian funding also supports Iran’s commendable efforts in assisting Afghans on its territory and host communities, on education, health, protection and livelihood.

€7 million will go to humanitarian organisations in Pakistan, focusing on the most vulnerable local populations, Afghans as well as host communities. Assistance will comprise Afghans and Pakistanis, affected by conflict, displacement, COVID-19 and natural disasters, including malnutrition.

All EU humanitarian aid is strictly monitored and only provided to established humanitarian organisations such as United Nations agencies, NGOs and international organisations.

Image above: illustration, Qom city, Iran.

EU welcomes American tourists

Brussels 20.06.2021 Americans are admitted to visit the European Union again, vaccinated or not. The European Council has updated its list of countries whose citizens and residents should be allowed to travel freely to the bloc’s of 27 states, and the United States is finally on it.

But before you purchase ticket, be aware there may be catches. In fact, there could be 27 different combinations of them. While the updated list published Friday is a recommendation on who may be granted entry based on their home country’s health situation, each EU government makes its own border decisions.

This includes what nationalities to admit, whether to require PCR test or rapid antigen coronavirus test upon arrival, and whether quarantine is mandatory. And while the European Commission, the EU executive branch, emphatically urges countries to coordinate such rules with their neighbours to ensure mobility, that plea has often fallen on deaf administrative ears.

The European Council has officially recommended European Union member states to lift restrictions on non-essential travel from the U.S. That’s welcome news for the many Americans that have been holding out hope of taking a post-pandemic European vacation this summer.

Several others were also added today to the E.U.’s so-called “white list” of nations, territories and special administrative regions from which leisure travel is allowed: Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan.

This latest move by the EU institutions have a long way toward restoring Transatlantic travel in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, something which airlines have been pressing U.S. and E.U. officials to actively support as vaccination rates improve on both sides of the Atlantic.

Still, it’s important to note that the Council’s recommendations aren’t legally binding and that each member state is responsible for implementing these guidelines.

Bloc members can also choose to impose added regulations as they see appropriate, including quarantine, testing or vaccination requirements.

EU-US: transatlantic partnership renewed

Brussels 15.06.2021 The EU-US summit on 15 June 2021 marked the beginning of a renewed transatlantic partnership and set a joint agenda for EU-US cooperation in the post-pandemic era. The leaders committed to regular dialogue to take stock of progress.

Key summit deliverables include three major new trade initiatives. The leaders agreed to:
– create a Cooperative Framework for Large Civil Aircraft;
– engage in discussions to resolve differences on measures regarding steel and aluminium by the end of the year;
– establish an EU-US Trade and Technology Council;
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, represented the EU. President Joe Biden represented the United States. It was the first EU-US summit since 2014 and the first visit by a US President to the EU institutions since 2017.
At the end of the summit, the leaders adopted a joint statement.

The European Union and the United States represent 780 million people who share democratic values and the largest economic relationship in the world. We have a chance and a responsibility to help people make a living and keep them safe and secure, fight climate change, and stand up for democracy and human rights. We laid the foundations of the world economy and the rules-based international order after World War II based on openness, fair competition, transparency and accountability. Some of the rules need an update: to protect our health, our climate and planet, to ensure democracy delivers and technology improves our lives.

“We, the leaders of the European Union and the United States, met today to renew our Transatlantic partnership, set a Joint Transatlantic Agenda for the post-pandemic era, and commit to regular dialogue to take stock of progress.

“Together, we intend to: (i) end the COVID-19 pandemic, prepare for future global health challenges, and drive forward a sustainable global recovery; (ii) protect our planet and foster green growth; (iii) strengthen trade, investment and technological cooperation; and (iv) build a more democratic, peaceful and secure world. We are committed to uphold the rules-based international order with the United Nations at its core, reinvigorate and reform multilateral institutions where needed, and cooperate with all those who share these objectives”.

Spain welcomes vaccinated tourists

Brussels 07.06.2021 The Spanish government has published the new requisites for travellers arriving in the country from outside the European Union and countries associated with the Schengen free-travel area. (Image: Valencia, Spain).

As was expected, the text released in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on Saturday states that from today, passengers from risk zones will be permitted to enter Spain if they have been administered the full doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by either the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA), more than 14 days prior to arrival.

No proof of vaccination, recovery or diagnostic test will be required from tourists from low-risk zones, said the government in a release, although everyone will still have to fill out the travel form available on Spain Travel Health (SpTH).

Once the European Union’s Digital Covid-19 pass goes into effect on July 1, this will also enable travellers to prove their immunity to the coronavirus if they are required to.

“At ports and airports there will be two control points. Whoever comes from countries or zones not included on the list of risk zones will have access to a quick control with the QR code obtained from SpTH. And once the EU Digital Covid-19 certificate goes into effect, whoever has this document will also have access to this quick control,” says the government statement.

Portugal: tourists leave for UK

Many upset British travellers were heading home on Sunday, June 6, from a shorter-than-expected holiday in the Algarve, Portugal, before a 10-day quarantine comes into force early next week due to rising coronavirus infections.

Britain said last week it was removing Portugal from its “green list” of countries that do not require quarantine on return because of rising COVID-19 case numbers and the risk posed by coronavirus variants detected in Portugal.

Portugal had been placed on the green list just weeks earlier, but from 0400 GMT on Tuesday 8 Juin it will shift to the “amber list”, meaning returning Britons will need to quarantine for 10 days and take two COVID-19 tests.

In the Algarve, the favourite Portuguese destination of British holidaymakers, Faro airport had long queues on Sunday afternoon as more travellers decided to shorten their holiday to avoid quarantine.

Faro airport had 55 flights scheduled to the UK on Sunday, with a capacity to transport more than 10,000 people, compared to fewer than 20 flights from Lisbon airport, according to information on the website of Portugal’s airports operator ANA.

The president of Portugal’s hotel association AHP, Rui Martins, said the UK’s decision “will seriously compromise the entire summer”.

“Hotels, particularly in the Algarve and Madeira Island, have started to see massive cancellations,” he said.

EU-Japan online SUmmit

Bruxelles 27.05.2021 EU-Japan summit has take place via video conference, 27 May 2021.The EU was represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Japan has been represented by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (Image above: Japan, urban landscape).

The leaders adopted a joint statement: ‘… Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic remains our highest priority. We view the vaccination process not as a race between countries but a race against time. Recognising extensive
immunisation as a global public good, we support universal, equitable and affordable access to
safe, effective and quality-assured COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, as well as
the strengthening of health systems. To this end, we have made substantial contributions to the
Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its COVAX facility and are making efforts to
expand production of vaccines and other COVID-19 health products across the world. We will
also cooperate for the success of the COVAX AMC Summit on 2 June to be co-hosted by Japan
and Gavi. We welcome the EU’s leading role as a supplier of vaccines globally, including to
Japan. We will work towards the expansion of vaccine production and keeping supply chains
open and we call for refraining from unnecessary export and travel restrictions. We will work
also to restore visa waiver reciprocity. We support the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic
Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in
defeating COVID-19″.

We are determined to harness the benefits of data and digital transformation for society, the
environment and the economy, while upholding fundamental rights. We will collaborate to
promote global standards and comprehensive, including regulatory, approaches for digital
policies and technologies, notably on cybersecurity, secure 5G, “Beyond 5G” / 6G technologies,
block chain, and safe and ethical applications of artificial intelligence while encouraging an
innovative environment. This collaboration will also cover open and interoperable network
architectures. We underline our joint commitment to high standards of protection for personal
data, based on the already high degree of convergence between our systems. We undertake to
continue cooperation on “Data Free Flow with Trust” with a view to facilitating safe and secure
cross-border data flows through enhancing security and privacy. This will help us harness the
benefits of the digital economy. We will strive to reach a consensus-based solution on digital
taxation by mid-2021 within the OECD. We will work on strengthening EU-Japan digital
cooperation to support an inclusive, sustainable, human-centric digital transformation”.

Remarks by President Charles Michel after the EU-Japan summit via video conference
The EU and Japan are united in their cooperation based on shared values and principles, including freedom, respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, free and fair trade, effective multilateralism and the rules-based international order. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the EU-Japan strategic partnership.

COVID19: EU aid to Nepal

Brussels 21.05.2021 An aircraft from Spain carrying urgently needed oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and rapid antigen tests arrived in Nepal today, following the country’s request for support for EU assistance to help contain its rapid surge in COVID-19 infections.

The shipment, the first of several to follow from EU Member States in the coming days, is facilitated through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, coordinated by the European Commission.

The offers of support from EU Member States currently include:

Finland: 2.2 million surgical face masks, 350,000 FFP2 masks, 52,500 pairs of vinyl gloves, 30,000 isolation gowns.
France: 14 ventilators, spare parts for oxygen plants, 20.000 antigen tests, 500.000 KN95 masks.
Germany: 62 ventilators, 27,500 FFP2 masks, 30,000 surgical masks, 200 body bags, 5 isolation centre tents, , 400 gum boots
Spain: 50 oxygen cylinders, 10 oxygen concentrators, 15 ventilators, 124,800 rapid antigen tests, 144,000 FFP2 masks.
Belgium: 1 million surgical masks, 2,000 nasal oxygen cannulas.
In addition, the flight delivering Spanish assistance that landed in Kathmandu today will depart on Friday 21 May, repatriating Spanish and other EU citizens upon return.

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “The COVID-19 surge in Nepal is claiming more lives every minute as it spreads across the country. We stand in full solidarity with Nepal in its fight against the pandemic. I am very thankful to Finland, Spain, France, Germany and Belgium for their quick and generous offers of assistance via our Civil Protection Mechanism, showing that the EU is a trusted partner and friend in times of need. We are also quickly mobilising emergency support with an initial €2 million. We stand ready to provide further assistance.”

The initial €2 million will support the monitoring of all home isolated cases through tele-health/tele-medicine services and rapid referral to hospitals, as well as national emergency medical teams deployment and the mobilisation of international emergency medical teams. The funding will also procure key COVID-19 equipment and supplies in Nepal, including oxygen equipment (including oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators), personal protection equipment, home care kits and diagnostics equipment.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism strengthens cooperation between the EU Member States and 6 Participating States in the field of civil protection, with a view to improve prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the Mechanism.

Through the Mechanism, the European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond and contributes to at least 75% of the transport and/or operational costs of deployments. Following a request for assistance through the Mechanism, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre mobilises assistance or expertise.

The Centre monitors events around the globe 24/7 and ensures rapid deployment of emergency support through a direct link with national civil protection authorities. In 2020, the Mechanism was activated more than 90 times. For example, to respond to the coronavirus pandemic; the explosion in Beirut in Lebanon; floods in Ukraine, Niger and Sudan; the earthquake in Croatia; and tropical cyclones in Latin America and Asia.

Vaccine labels on dating apps

Major dating apps are adding vaccination badges and special benefits to users’ profiles who say they received the coronavirus vaccine in an effort to reach the Biden administration’s July 4 inoculation goal, the Hill newspaper reports.

“In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70% of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America will launch new features to encourage Americans to get vaccinated,” according to an announcement from the White House.

The news from the dating apps comes after President Biden earlier this month announced a goal of administering at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine to 70% of adults by July 4.

Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble and Badoo are all giving special benefits to those who get vaccinated and adding new “vaccination badge” options to their profiles.

Tinder is allowing vaccinated people to get free premium content such as a “Super Like” and is encouraging users to add “Getting Vaxed” or “Vaccines Saves Lives” stickers to their profiles.

OkCupid users who add the “I’m Vaccinated” badge will get a free “boost” to their profile and, starting in early June, users will be able to search for vaccinated users in a system called “Vaccinated Stacks.”

“According to research from OKCupid, people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more Matches than people who don’t plan to get vaccinated,” the announcement states.

The dating apps will also provide information about the vaccine and links to vaccines.gov.

Everyone above the age of 16 in the U.S. is now eligible for the vaccine, but vaccination rates have slowed since the mad dash to vaccination sites earlier in the year. Biden, congressional lawmakers, members of federal health agencies and state and local leaders have encouraged hesitant Americans to get the shots.

Some state governors have announced lotteries for those who receive a coronavirus vaccine. For example, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state would be eligible for a lottery prize of $40,000.

Ohio reported a 28 percent increase in vaccinations after Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced five lottery drawings for a chance to win $1 million dollars each draw.

Currently, over 60 percent of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

EU supports WHO PANDEMIC TREATY

Brussels 20.05.2021 The Council adopted today a decision to support the launch of negotiations for an international treaty on the fight against pandemics. The World Health Assembly, the main governing body of the WHO, is expected to back the establishment of a process for a Framework Convention on Pandemic Preparedness and Response during its (virtual) meeting which starts on 24 May. The proposal for an international treaty on pandemics was first announced by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the Paris Peace Forum in November 2020. (Image above: Brussels).

The objective of the Council decision is to assure the participation of the EU in the negotiations addressing matters falling within Union competence, in view of the Union’s possible accession to the treaty.

The proposal to conclude a treaty on pandemics is discussed in the context of international efforts to reinforce global health security, in particular on preparedness and response to health emergencies, in light of lessons learnt from the pandemic.

At the European Council of 25 February 2021 EU leaders underlined the need for global multilateral cooperation to adress current and future health threats and agreed to work on an international treaty on pandemics within the WHO framework and to advance global health security.

On 30 March 2021, leaders from all around the world joined the President of the European Council and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in an open call for an international treaty on pandemics.

The European Union has an informal observer status at the WHO.

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