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Policy And Public Affairs Update: 23 April - 29 April

BSI Weekly Policy and Public Affairs Updates

23 April - 29 April

European Commission calls for stronger EU cooperation against preventable diseases

The European Commission (EC) has issued a set of recommendations for how the EU can strengthen its cooperation in fight against vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines save 1-3 million lives per year according to ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control), yet there have been outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease such as measles across the EU due to insufficient coverage.

As well as 20 concrete actions to be carried out by Member States, the EC’s proposal focuses on 3 main pillars of action:

  • Tackling vaccine hesitancy to improve coverage. 
  • Creating sustainable vaccination policies in the EU.
  • EU coordination and contribution to global health.

The EC will produce progress reports on the implementation of the recommendation.  A report titled ‘State of Confidence in Vaccines in the EU’ will also be produced by the European Commission.

CaSE responds to new report by Public Accounts Committee which highlighted concerns over a lack of a clear plan to reach R&D investment targets.

The Executive Director of CaSE, Dr. Sarah Main, has responded to the Public Accounts Committee’s report which outlined concerns over the feasibility of the Government’s target to increase R&D funding from 1.86% to 2.4% of GDP over the next 10 years.  Dr. Main said, “The target is clear, but a robust plan to reach it needs to be developed soon in order to meet it”. She then recommended that the Government should lead the way in supporting an environment that attracts research-led industries in order to attract new private sector investment. Dr. Main also said that the “Government must play its part by increasing public investment in research and development to 0.7% of GDP by 2022. This would be an important interim milestone if the plan to increase total investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 is to succeed."

House of Lords Science & Technology Committee report 'Life Sciences Industrial Strategy - Who's Driving The Bus?' released

The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy was published in August last year, with overarching aims being:

  • To make the UK an attractive place to carry out life sciences research.
  • Support the growth of UK life sciences businesses.
  • Promote the collaboration of NHS and industry for the benefit of patients.
  • Establish a migration system that allows the rapid recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond.

On Thursday 26 April, the  House of Lords Science & Technology Committee released the report ‘Life Sciences Industrial strategy: Who’s driving the bus?’. The report outlined concerns with the Government’s ability in and commitment to implementing the Strategy, with key recommendations being:

  • The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy implementation should be simplified, with the Life Sciences Governing Body being in charge of its delivery.
  • Implementation of the Strategy should be scrutinized by a new Office for Industrial Strategy -which should report directly to Parliament.
  • Patient investment capital should be increased and made available to innovative life sciences firms to ensure their growth.

The BSI fed into the development of the Life Science Industrial Strategy, through our report – Immunology and the Life Sciences Industry.

EMA updates rules for the clinical development of vaccines

The EMA has released a revised guideline for the clinical evaluation of vaccines, which is out for a six-month public consultation.  Currently, vaccines undergo rigorous scientific review to make sure they are both safe and effective. The updated guideline will introduce extra safeguards for EU citizens and ensure that vaccine evaluation is in line with the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. 

Immunology awareness

This week the BSI highlighted several immune-related disease awareness weeks and days by collecting our resources into webpages for each topic. On Tuesday we celebrated World Immunisation Week, Thursday was Allergy Awareness Week, Friday was World Primary Immundeficiency Week and this Sunday it is International Day of Immunology. To celebrate the International Day of Immunology, the BSI have collaborated with the Francis Crick Institute and Nature Research to present 'How your gut reacts to microbes in health and disease'.  This is a free public event taking place on Friday 27 April and is hosted by a panel of expert immunologists who will discuss how the immune system interacts with the trillions of microbes in the gut.