The European Union has delivered enough coronavirus vaccine doses to member states to reach a target to fully vaccinate at least 70 per cent of adults in the bloc, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Saturday.
Ms von der Leyen, who had tweeted on May 9th that the EU was on track to meet its goal of inoculating 70 per cent of adults by summer, urged EU countries to increase vaccinations and said about 500 million doses would be distributed across the union by Sunday.
"The European Union has kept its word. This weekend we have delivered enough vaccines to member states to be in a position to vaccinate fully at least 70 per cent of the EU adults this month," she said in a video statement.
"But Covid-19 is not yet defeated. We are prepared to deliver more vaccines, including against new variants," said Ms von der Leyen, who faced sharp criticism at the start of 2021 for failing to ensure companies delivered contracted vaccines.
It comes as the head of Ireland’s health service has said at least 64 per cent of the country’s adult population will be fully vaccinated by the end of the month.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said on Saturday that 55 per cent of adults are now fully vaccinated, while 70 per cent have received a first dose.
“Well what we’ve always known in the HSE it’s very hard to look forward beyond July and August because... each week we have to rely on forecasts that we get on a weekly basis,” he told Newstalk radio.
“But the pace we’re going at the minute, you know we should be probably well over 64 per cent by the end of this month, people fully vaccinated.
“Certainly by the end of August, or certainly into September, we should be reaching that 80 per cent figure of people fully vaccinated.”
EU long-term goal
The EU has a longer-term goal of having enough vaccines to immunise its entire eligible population by the end of September, and said in May it was confident of having enough vaccines to reach that target.
Ms von der Leyen added in her latest statement that the EU was prepared to deliver more doses, including vaccines which act against new variants.
The EU, which is coordinating vaccine purchasing for its member states, has been largely relying on the jab developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, but is also purchasing a number of other vaccines.
The Commission said last week EU countries had ordered nearly 40 million additional doses of the vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
The Commission previously warned that it expected the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus to become dominant in Europe this summer, citing estimates from the EU disease prevention agency.
Recent studies have shown that the Delta variant reduces the effectiveness of vaccines against symptomatic infection, but two doses of Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness and deaths.