The European Union wants to fast-track funding to treat COVID-19 patients with blood plasma collected from survivors, an EU document seen by Reuters shows, in a sign of the bloc’s growing confidence in the experimental treatment.
The move also highlights the more assertive approach being taken by the 27-nation union in the race to find effective drugs and vaccines against the new coronavirus, after the United States scooped up several promising candidates.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has invited national blood authorities to apply for possible emergency funding by July 10 to boost their collection of convalescent plasma, which is obtained from people who have recovered from COVID-19, the document seen by Reuters said.
Funds could be used to buy equipment to collect, store and test convalescent plasma, the document said, adding the money could come from the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), a European rainy-day fund.
The use of the ESI could allow funds to be provided this year. Usually EU funding projects are planned years in advance.
Money from the 2.7-billion-euro ($3 billion) ESI has so far only been used or committed for highly sensitive issues, such as buying scarce face masks at the peak of the pandemic in Europe and advance purchase of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 300 million euros have been spent and about 2 billion is pencilled in to buy possible vaccines, EU officials told Reuters. This leaves some 400 million euros available.