Sunday

14th Aug 2022

Europe bird flu plans full of holes, study says

  • "No plan stands out as being much better than the others" (Photo: European Community, 2006)

European countries need to work together more to prepare for a possible bird flu pandemic, a new study warns.

The report, 'How prepared is Europe for Pandemic Influenza? An analysis of national plans', issued by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and presented in magazine Lancet on Thursday (20 April), reveals major discrepancies in planning in pandemic preparedness across Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Wide gaps exist in the pandemic preparedness of European nations," Dr Richard Coker, the report's lead author said, stressing that the EU must initiate a more co-ordinated approach to tackling a pandemic of the lethal bird flu strain.

"With the ongoing spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in birds and the impending threat of a pandemic, European nations need to work together to adequately prepare for the onset of such a pandemic," Mr Coker added.

Researchers in London have rated the readiness of 17 EU countries as well as Bulgaria, Norway, Romania and Switzerland, in planning and coordination, public health interventions, maintenance of essential services, communication and putting plans into action.

The countries' plans varied widely in their assumptions of how many people would be infected by avian influenza, how many would need hospital treatment and how many would die.

Estimated hospital admission rates range from 40 to 2,707 per 100,000 population, while estimated death rates vary from 14 to 1,685 per 100,000.

Only seven of the 21 listed countries know how to distribute medicines on a large scale, and in some of the countries the pile of anti-viral is enough for only two percent of the population.

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden topped the list, fulfilling over 70 percent of the criteria, while the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland and Portugal were the least prepared of the countries.

Few countries' plans addressed the need to collaborate with neighbouring countries.

"All countries, even those in the top group, have significant gaps, and these vary from country to country," said Mr Coker.

"No plan stands out as being much better than the others."

Slovenia, Hungary, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Bulgaria and Cyprus were not included in the study as not enough data was available.

Responding to the report, the European Commission on Wednesday said that European countries had in general since the time of data collection for the study - six months ago - improved preparedness for the pandemic.

"A lot has been done since the study, including a Europe-wide exercise, and those lessons learned are being discussed and acted on,'' a commission spokesperson said, according to Bloomberg agency.

The lethal H5N1 virus has so far been found in twelve EU member states: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Denmark, Poland and Slovenia.

Since 2003, the H5N1 strain has killed worldwide more than 100 people who have been in close contact with infected birds, mainly in Asia.

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Opinion

EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive

The EU needs to be clear eyed about China's new diplomatic charm offensive, as it's more likely driven by short-term necessity than any fundamental policy re-assessment.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us