Brussels (dpa) – A show of force in vaccination should effectively stem the corona pandemic in the European Union within months.
“Our goal is to have 70 percent of our adult population vaccinated by the summer,” Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels on Tuesday. “That could be the turning point in our fight against the virus.”
At the same time, the Brussels government urgently warned of at least three new, highly contagious virus mutations. “If we don’t act decisively now, we may not be able to curb the risk of a potentially more difficult third wave of infections,” said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
More than 400,000 people have already died in the EU due to the corona virus. The Commission has made its new proposals for an EU video summit on Thursday, at which the EU Heads of State or Government want to re-discuss the joint approach. The main topic is the acceleration of the vaccination campaign.
This should be done with the approval of more vaccines and the expansion of production. Astrazeneca’s product could already be approved for the European market at the end of January. Vice Commissioner Margaritis Schinas sees an end to the vaccine shortage soon: “By the end of the first quarter, Europe will have an impressive number of doses.”
A first vaccination target should be reached in March: 80 percent of people over 80 years old and of the medical and nursing staff. The deadline for the second goal – 70 percent of adults – is pretty gentle: Summer is from June to the end of August, Schinas said when asked.
In addition, the video summit should also include a common vaccination pass and possible privileges for vaccinated people. The committee calls for a common vaccination certificate and an agreement between the EU countries by the end of January. In this way, the certificates could quickly become usable “in health systems in the EU and beyond”.
The vaccination document must state who received which vaccine and when in which EU country, also to detect possible side effects. However, whether vaccinated people enjoy benefits – for example, access to restaurants and cinemas or easier holiday travel – is controversial in EU countries.
In view of the new virus mutations, the Commission is urging Member States to further investigate more virus samples. This requires what is known as genome sequencing. EU states must sequence at least five, better ten percent of the positive test results. So far it has been less than one percent in many places. “If we don’t test and sequence, we’re blind,” said Kyriakides.
At the same time, the Commission warns that distance and hygiene regulations, especially when traveling, prevent the transmission of the virus. We strongly advise against making any unnecessary travel. The Commission supports travel restrictions and testing obligations, but rejects border closures.