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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A doctor is seen in an ambulance outside the Cardarelli hospital during the COVID-19 epidemic. This was taken on November 12, 2020, in Naples, Italy. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission launched on Thursday a health crisis body that will coordinate EU spending of almost 30 billion euros ($35.3 billion) to prepare for a future pandemic.

This new authority will help to build and maintain stockpiles, as well as assess possible health risks and promote research.

In the event of a major health emergency, this authority would mobilize funding, coordinate procurement, monitoring and treatment purchases, and assist in coordinating medical equipment, supplies, or other treatments.

This authority was partly created to prevent a repetition of the inefficient and costly ad-hoc actions taken by different EU countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will complement the European Medicines Agency and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which are both EU health agencies.

Margaritis Schinas (Vice President European Commission) stated that the agencies have been strengthened. However, this alone is not sufficient.

“Both agencies play a crucial role but they were mainly created after the pandemic,” Schinas stated at a press conference.

Hera will serve as our primary instrument for coordination of preparedness, and (if necessary) the response. We are not doing this today.

HERA should become fully functional in the early 2022. It will be funded with 6 billion euros by the EU budget from 2022-2027. This is along with several other programs that bring EU health security spending to nearly 30 billion euros.

Spending could reach 50 billion euro if it includes projects by EU member states and businesses.

($1 = 0.8508 euros)

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