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Building a European partnership for pandemic preparedness

The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated how unilateral research initiatives may lead to a fragmented research landscape, with substantial room for efficiency gains in the development of the highly needed evidence to guide policy actions when facing an emergency. The expected future European partnership for pandemic preparedness should aim to improve the EU’s preparedness to predict and respond to emerging infectious health threats by better coordinating funding for research and innovation at EU, national (and regional) level towards common objectives and an agreed Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.

Such a partnership should contribute to building a coherent European Research Area (ERA), enabling Member States, Associated Countries and the European Commission to rapidly and jointly support research and innovation in pandemic preparedness. Aligned around a multi-annual Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda with common objectives for research and innovation in pandemic preparedness, the prospective partners – in close collaboration with ECDC, EMA and other relevant actors – will define research needs in the medium- to long-term. The Partnership is expected to build on existing pandemic preparedness networks, and work in synergy with the future Health Emergency Response Authority (HERA)[[COM(2020) 724 - A dedicated European authority that will strengthen the EU’s preparedness and response capability for new and emerging cross-border threats to human health.]]. Collaboration with the private sector is anticipated.

The specifics of the European partnership for pandemic preparedness are being discussed with Member States and Associated Countries, and will be shared as they become available. It is anticipated that in its initial phase, the Partnership will primarily focus on epidemics/pandemics preparedness, although its scope may be revised to include further health threats that would be in scope of the activities of the future HERA. As relevant, the Partnership will apply a cross-cutting, interdisciplinary One Health approach.

Proposals should foresee the establishment of a secretariat to coordinate the creation the expected future European partnership for pandemic preparedness, with a strong involvement of public authorities (policy makers, research funders).

Proposals should include all of the following activities:

  • Perform the preparatory groundwork to inform an innovative and visionary Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for pandemic preparedness;
  • Actively engage with all prospective partners of the expected future Partnership to support alignment on its scope, common objectives, governance and ways of working/operationalisation;
  • Actively engage with relevant stakeholders and initiatives in the area of pandemic preparedness, ensuring collaboration and coordination, and avoiding duplication; e.g. GloPID-R, WHO R&D blueprint, ACT-Accelerator, etc.
  • Implement strong communication and dissemination activities on the purpose, foreseen activities and outputs of the expected future European partnership for pandemic preparedness, both outside and during epidemic/pandemic episodes.
  • Establish coordination and collaboration with relevant initiatives related to pandemic preparedness such as the future HERA to ensure complementarity and avoid overlaps.
  • As relevant, apply a cross-cutting, interdisciplinary One Health approach.
  • Communication activities at EU level and in Member States and Associated Countries to raise and maintain awareness of the importance of increased pandemic preparedness.

The proposal selected for funding is expected to engage with other relevant research and innovation initiatives, such as the expected future European partnerships on Transforming Health and Care Systems, One Health antimicrobial resistance, ERA for Health research and Animal Health and Welfare, or other relevant projects funded under Horizon 2020 or Horizon Europe.