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Member states want more R&D investment to fight pandemics

France and Germany among those urging Commission to do more to boost research

Some of the EU’s most powerful member states have urged the European Commission to prioritise R&D as part of a bigger push to ensure the bloc is properly prepared for future pandemics.

In a policy paper sent on 9 June, representatives of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and Poland said research and innovation should be addressed as part of a future EU pandemic strategy.

The countries called for “strong investments in fundamental research” and the “alignment of research and innovation efforts”.

The paper’s authors also want the EU to develop a “coherent, transparent and coordinated approach” in selecting vaccines against the Covid-19 virus. They suggest EU funds could be spent on candidate selection mechanisms and on a “clinical preparedness platform” that would speed the development of future vaccines.

More collective EU efforts on diagnostics, treatments and data-sharing relevant to potential pandemic diseases should also be priorities, the states say.

The paper, which was initiated in Denmark and signed by the other states, also called for more social sciences and humanities research into pandemic responses, noting that “a key aspect in a pandemic is the regulation of public behaviour”.

It was released by the Politico website, and its authenticity was confirmed to Research Professional News by multiple sources.

Responding to the letter, chief spokesperson Eric Mamer said a lot had already been done to address the issues it raised.

“Next week, the Commission will be discussing a Vaccine Strategy, which will also address some of the points, which are raised in the letter," he said. “And on many of the issues that are raised, for example on the issue of sharing of data, we have already taken action. For example on 20 April, we launched a European COVID-19 data platform.”

UPDATED 11/6—This story was updated after publication with comment from the Commission.