More than 256 million adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as the rate among the adult population reached 70% on Tuesday (31 August), which the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called “a great achievement”.
“The EU’s strategy of moving forward together is paying off and putting Europe at the vanguard of the global fight against COVID-19,” von der Leyen said.
Stella Kyriakides, the Commissioner for health and food safety, also said she was very pleased that “as of today we have reached our goal to vaccinate 70% of EU adults before the end of the summer”.
She added that this is a collective achievement of the EU and its member states, which “shows what is possible when we work together with solidarity and in coordination”.
Not yet time to relax
As the threat of new variants remains, the Commission is promising to continue ensuring the availability of vaccines, including adapted vaccines.
“Our efforts to further increase vaccinations across the EU will continue unabated. We will continue to support in particular those Member States that are continuing to face challenges,” Kyriakides said.
She warned that “the immunity gap” and “the door for new variants” need to be closed. “To do so, vaccinations must win the race over variants.”
On 20 May the Commission signed a contract with BioNTech-Pfizer, which foresees the delivery of 1.8 billion doses of vaccines between the end of the year and 2023. For the same purpose, the Commission has also exercised the option of having 150 million doses of the second Moderna contract.
EU countries have the possibility to resell or donate doses directly to countries outside the EU in need of vaccines or through the COVAX Facility. Based on Our World in Data information, only 1.7% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
The importance of sharing vaccines
Von der Leyen also stressed the need to share vaccines. “We need to help the rest of the world vaccinate, too. Europe will continue to support its partners in this effort, in particular, the low and middle-income countries.”
The EU has exported about half of the vaccines produced in Europe to other countries in the world, as much as it has delivered for its citizens. EU and member states contributed close to €3 billion for the COVAX Facility to help secure at least 1.8 billion doses for 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries.
Currently, more than 200 million doses have been delivered by COVAX to 138 countries.
In addition, the plan is also to share at least another 200 million doses of vaccines secured under the EU’s advance purchase agreements to low and middle-income countries until the end of 2021, in particular through COVAX, as part of the EU’s vaccine-sharing efforts.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]