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AMED and HERA strengthen R&D collaboration: Medical countermeasures against infectious disease


The Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) and the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) of the European Union (EU) have signed a cooperation arrangement on research and development (R&D) of infectious disease medical countermeasures in preparation for and in response to cross-border infectious disease threats. Going forward, the two organizations will exchange information and data related to advanced R&D on infectious disease vaccines, medicines, and medical devices, discuss collaborative projects, and organize regular meetings.

From left: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the European Union Yasushi Masaki, HERA Acting Director-General Laurent Muschel, AMED President Yoshinao Mishima, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the European Union to Japan Jean-Eric Paquet.

AMED President Yoshinao Mishima stated, "Since HERA contacted the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA) last year, we started communicating online, and HERA's former Director-General Pierre Delsaux and former Deputy Head Wolfgang Philipp visited AMED twice to exchange ideas. Through discussions on how we can collaborate, we were able to reach the current agreement on infectious disease emergency measures, which is very fruitful for both of us."

HERA's Acting Director-General Laurent Muschel stated, "Preparedness for health crisis is most efficient with a global approach. We are happy in our new cooperation with AMED and the strengthening of our relations with Japan on cross-border health threats. This meets one of the important goals of the EU's Global Health Strategy, which is to strengthen the international effort on global health security and medical measures. Through information exchange and communication, we hope to identify priority diseases and advance our cooperation."

Launching SCARDA in Japan was perceived by the rest of the world to have had a great impact. After its launch, organizations in different countries contacted SCARDA, and discussions on collaboration and cooperation have been progressing. Whereas previously the government of each EU member state had been responsible for health issues in the EU, HERA was established in September 2021 under the aegis of the European Commission. It was based on the bitter realization during the COVID-19 pandemic that the lack of coordination among the member states increased the pandemic casualties. The scope of SCARDA is limited to vaccine R&D up to a pre-practical phase, whereas HERA's scope includes vaccine development, production, procurement, and fair distribution. Despite the existence of such differences, both organizations have a common aim: "We won't be surprised by the next infectious disease."

Sanae Takaichi, minister in charge of health and medical strategy, stated, "I expect that this cooperation arrangement will advance the collaboration between AMED and HERA to promote Japan−Europe research cooperation in medicine and lead to strengthening of measures against infectious diseases that may occur in the future."

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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