EU leaders aim to make progress on common testing and vaccination strategies at a video convention on Thursday and step up coordination in fighting the fast-expanding Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.
The late-afternoon e-meeting is the first of a deliberate series of video conferences leaders will dedicate in the coming weeks to the health crisis, with one official saying two more may take place before an EU summit scheduled for mid-December.
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Appeals for better coordination have develop into louder amid a resurgence of the epidemic in Europe after a relative lull in the summertime months.
Leaders also wish to steer clear of divisions which dogged the 27-nation bloc at the beginning of the pandemic, when countries vied with every other to shop for scarce medical equipment.
A robust testing and tracing strategy has been a precedence for the EU since the onset of the crisis as countries who did better on that, like Germany, recorded smaller death tolls than others.
But “at the European level, this course of action has not achieved the desired results”, the chair of the EU summit, Charles Michel, said in a note issued before the video convention.
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He’ll call for more cooperation on buying and developing tests including rapid antigen kits which, albeit less accurate than the usual molecular PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, could be an important in identifying clusters of infections more quickly, officials said.
He’ll also insist, officials said, that EU countries speed up vaccination plans to ensure the first limited doses, must they ever be to be had, will also be distributed quickly to those most in need.
A lucid definition of precedence groups is an important as not enough vials of potential effective shots would be to be had to inoculate all the EU population of 450 million before 2022, according to EU Commission estimates.