Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, announced plans for the European Union (“EU”) to play a much greater role in the health sector. The EU plans to form a new agency for biomedical research, which will be modeled on the United States Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (“BARDA”). The agency will help reinforce the European Center for Disease prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency.
The EU BARDA will also support the European Union’s readiness and capacity to counter cross-border emergencies and threats, whether they were deliberate or natural. The EU BARDA is seen as a response to criticisms from the CEOs of a couple of European pharmaceutical firms, Paul Hudson of Sanofi and Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca, who both stated the need for Europe to have a BARDA equivalent.
Having a single agency like BARDA, had made it possible for the U.S. to negotiate purchase agreements for coronavirus vaccines for the U.S. BARDA is also overseeing ‘Operation Warp Speed’, which was set up by President Donald Trump to help encourage manufacturers, with the objective of providing 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to the American public by January 2021.
This was President Ursula’s first state of the union address since she came into office earlier this year. In the address, she called for the European Parliament to increase the funding for the EU’s new initiative. Von der Leyen stated that the EU response to the coronavirus pandemic showed that it could play an important role in making sure that the supply of medical equipment was running smoothly as well as in cooperating with the industry to help increase production of ventilators, diagnostics and protective equipment. She added that discussing health competences should be a priority.
What does EU BARDA bring to the table?
The EU is planning on investing €8 billion ($9.4bn) into supercomputers manufactured in Europe. This will help the industry develop EU’s next-generation microprocessors and also build a European cloud computing project, based on Franco-German’s Gaia X.
The commission also wants to establish a European e-identity system, that will be universally secure. This will help protect individual’s personal data better. Additionally, Europeans will be able to carry out transactions using their unique e-identities; anything from renting a car to paying their taxes.
Collectively, this will help reduce Europe’s dependency on foreign technologies.
Apart from technology, von der Leyen also announced CO2 target emissions for 2030, shifting the objective to 55% from 40%. To ensure the goal is met, the commission will amend all EU climate and energy laws before next summer.
She added that the green transition would not be possible without SME’s as they are the backbone of the economy and urged them to come up with green technologies that would ensure the economy’s success without damaging the planet.
What do companies like Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) see as the likely implications of this new EU agency becoming operational? Only time will tell!
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