Just over a month ago, EBC published its statement on the impact of COVID-19 on brain health, hoping that the growing evidence of the long-term effects of the disease would be taken into account in the planning for post-pandemic recovery at the EU and national levels. It continues to grow more evident that COVID-19 has grave consequences on both neurological and mental health. At that time, the vaccination campaign had just begun across Europe, giving new hope to citizens that life could soon be “back to normal”.
Already in that statement, we had stressed that a vaccination campaign, however effective, would not be enough to eliminate all the damage that the ongoing pandemic could cause in the long term. Not taking into account the direct and indirect damage caused not only by the disease on the brain but also by a year of restrictions affecting mental health, would have caused even more damage.
In the meantime, however, the vaccination campaign has hit several snags, especially in Europe, which has seen a much slower roll-out that has forced Member States to change plans, adding a continued sense of uncertainty. If this can cause more damage, both to the physical and mental health of citizens who will have to continue to live with constraints to their lives, with reduced access to chronic treatment, in isolation from friends and family and more, it will leave us with more long-term consequences to mend.
It is also from these premises that the intervention of Michel Goldman, former Executive Director of the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and Professor Emeritus at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, published on Science|Business is founded. In this article, Professor Goldman retraces the steps of the vaccination campaign, analysing the mistakes made and proposing a new model for pandemic preparedness in Europe, comparing the situation with the US and the UK. His analysis shows that there is still time to adjust the course and spread the vaccine doses effectively, but that collaboration between the European institutions and the Member States, based on a new clear long-term plan, is essential to do this.