The European Commission (EC) opened a public consultation to help it develop the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), a new initiative to better prepare Europe for cross-border health threats.

Stemming from the February launch of a European biodefense preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants, HERA is intended to provide a permanent structure to support the development, manufacturing and deployment of medical countermeasures (MCMs) during a health crisis of natural or deliberate origin.

“COVID-19 has revealed gaps in our collective preparedness and response,” Stella Kyriakides, commissioner for health and food safety, said, adding that HERA will be a fundamental part of an EU solution to better prepare for the next health crisis.

In that role, HERA is expected to provide risk modeling, global surveillance, technology transfers, manufacturing capacity, supply chain risk mapping, flexible manufacturing capacity and vaccine and medicine R&D.

As part of the consultation, which closes May 12, the EC is seeking comments on:

  • the EU's framework to develop, manufacture and deploy MCMs;
  • anticipatory threat and risk assessments;
  • market dynamics and supply chain intelligence;
  • the development and financing of new countermeasures in a crisis;
  • the impact, role, scope and coordination of HERA.

In addition to the consultation, the EC will hold talks with EU member states and various stakeholders before setting out the exact remit of HERA in a legislative proposal later this year.