Disinfection robots to be delivered to hospitals across EU to fight COVID-19

The robots can disinfect standard patient rooms, using ultraviolet light, in as quickly as 15 minutes.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

23 Nov 2020

The European Commission, which is funding the roll-out of the devices, said they will help prevent and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

Funding comes from the €12 million Emergency Support Instrument (ESI) and the Commission says that hospitals from most Member States have expressed “a need and interest” in receiving the robots.

The robots are controlled by an operator located outside of the room to be disinfected in order to avoid any exposure to the UV light.

The robots are expected to be delivered in the next few weeks.

A Commission spokesman told a news briefing on Monday that purchase of the robots was part of its “continued efforts to tackle the spread of Coronavirus and provide Member States with necessary equipment.”

“We are deploying disinfection robots in hospitals so that our citizens can benefit from this potentially life-saving technology” Thierry Breton, Internal Market Commissioner

Announcing the plan on Monday, Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said, “Developing technologies can set up forces of change and we see a good example of this in the disinfection robots. I welcome this action to help our hospitals in Europe reduce the risk of infection – an important step in containing the spread of Coronavirus.”

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton added, “Europe has remained resilient and solidary during the current crisis. From repatriating EU citizens stranded abroad to increasing the production of masks and ensuring that medical equipment reaches those who need it within the single market, we are acting to protect our citizens.”

The French official added, “Now we are deploying disinfection robots in hospitals so that our citizens can benefit from this potentially life-saving technology. The robots are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.”

Separately, the Commission announced it will contribute €183 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) for debt relief in 29 low-income countries, allowing them to increase spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Meanwhile, the Commission has also confirmed that it has now concluded agreements with five Coronavirus vaccine developers.

“Developing technologies can set up forces of change and we see a good example of this in the disinfection robots. I welcome this action to help our hospitals in Europe reduce the risk of infection” Margrethe Vestager, Commission Vice-President

A spokesman told the press briefing on Monday that the executive is now waiting for the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before any of the vaccines can be bought.

He said that the EMA said it “hopes to be in a position to give authorisation, or the green light, to at least two of the vaccines in the second half of December.”

He added, “It will then be for the Commission to give its authorisation to put these products on the market so that they are ready for purchase and ordering. We will try to do all this as soon as possible, bearing in mind all safety concerns.”

The spokesman, when asked, said there were “no bilateral contacts” taking place between Member States and the vaccine developers.

There has been concern that some Member States had broken rank by conducting their own talks about vaccines with developers.

But the spokesman said, “The philosophy is that all Member States will work together. The EU will conduct discussions with the different vaccine developers and if, these are successful, we will conclude the contracts.”

“Regarding the five vaccine developers, once the green light is given by the EMA Member States can then place their orders. But no parallel talks are taking place between Member States and vaccine developers because the idea is that we all do this together.”

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