The European Union has now fully vaccinated 70 per cent of its adults against COVID-19, in a milestone which it earlier only hoped to reach by the end of summer.
In a video statement announcing the level had been reached, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a “great achievement”, and said it showed “what we can do when we work together”.
However, it is not the time to rest on our laurels, she said, and “we must go further… We need more Europeans to vaccinate. And we need to help the rest of the world vaccinate, too.”
The long-trumpeted 70 per cent goal has often seemed elusive to the bloc, with leaders struggling to establish exactly what was meant by the ‘end of summer’ as well as whether the target referred to full vaccinations or only the giving of the first vaccine.
While the target was initially the end of September, vaccine supplies increased and officials said that the bloc would meet the goal in July.
At the end of July, the Commission announced that it had vaccinated 70 per cent of the adult population, but with only one dose.
It was initially hoped that the level would bring herd immunity against the virus, but with the more transmittable Delta variant, experts have warned that this will need to be even higher.
There is also a rather significant variation in terms of vaccination levels in various in EU countries.
In Malta, for example, over 90 per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated against the virus, whereas in Bulgaria and Romania, this figure is around 20 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively.
“We need to urgently address the worrying gap in vaccination rates between our Member States, and be ready to deploy booster vaccines if the scientific evidence shows this is the way forward,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides wrote in a statement.
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