29th Sep 2021

EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates

  • 'The EU has kept its word and delivered' said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (Photo: Jernej Furman)

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced on Tuesday (27 July) that 70 percent of Europeans aged 18 and over have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

"The EU has kept its word and delivered. Our target was to protect 70 percent of adults in the European Union with at least one vaccination in July. Today we have achieved this target," von der Leyen said in a statement.

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"These figures put Europe among the world leaders," she added.

The announcement comes amid concerns over the more-contagious Delta variant, responsible for a surge in cases in many member states.

Last week, the EU Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that the variant, first identified in India, is now dominant in 19 of the region's 28 countries that reported sufficiently complete genetic sequencing information.

But the Delta strain is expected to make up 90-percent of infections in Europe by the end of the summer.

All jabs approved in the EU - BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson&Johnson - appeared to be effective against the variant when both doses are administrated in the case of two-shot jabs.

However, only 57 percent of adult Europeans are fully-vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the ECDC has warned that an increasing number of cases will be reported among children in the coming months.

Von der Leyen warned that the Delta variant is "very dangerous," urging everyone to get vaccinated "for their own health and to protect others".

The rollout of vaccines across the EU had a slow beginning earlier this year, compared to the UK or the US, mainly due to delays in the deliveries of AstraZeneca, against which the EU has taken legal proceedings.

"The catch-up process has been very successful - but we need to keep up the effort," said von der Leyen.

"The EU will continue to provide sufficient volumes of vaccine," she promised.

So far, Brussels has secured up to 4.4bn doses from six different vaccine makers - although two jabs are yet to be approved.

As of Wednesday, Malta had the highest Covid-19 vaccination rate in the EU, followed by Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, which have all reported more than 80 percent of adults receiving at least one shot.

By contrast, Bulgaria and Romania have only vaccinated 18.5 percent and 31 percent of their population with one dose, according to the ECDC vaccine tracker.

Germany mulls restrictions for unvaccinated as cases soar

The surge of Covid-19 cases due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant has prompted a debate in Germany over whether people who have not yet been vaccinated should face restrictions - after other countries made similar moves.

Delta variant poses 'mandatory' vaccination dilemma for EU

The spread of the more contagious Delta variant has prompted authorities in member states to accelerate inoculation campaigns, and even make vaccination mandatory - in a bid to halt the new surge of cases and avoid lockdowns in the autumn.

Three-quarters of EU citizens support vaccines, survey finds

When asked how the EU handled the vaccination strategy among different institutions, respondents in Malta and Portugal tend to be most satisfied, while in France and Germany respondents are the least satisfied with the EU.

MEPs 'disappointed' at observer-status at new EU health body

MEPs have slammed the European Commission for sidelining the European Parliament in the new Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), giving MEPs a role of mere observers. Its budget will be €6bn over the next six years.

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