Brussels (Brussels Morning) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated on Sunday that the bloc still aims to have 70% of its adult citizens vaccinated by the end of summer, despite initial delays in vaccine supply, Deutsche Welle reported.
So far, the EU has received 18 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and at least 12 million citizens – mostly vulnerable groups and medical professionals – have received at least one of the two required jabs.
Calling it “an impressive figure” in relation to the EU’s size, von der Leyen declared, “we’ve made good progress.” The Commission head conceded that February and March will be “difficult months”, but she expressed her belief that most of the delivery problems should be resolved by then.
Talks with manufacturers
Her remarks came late Sunday, following talks with representatives of seven vaccine manufacturers that currently have delivery contracts with the EU. Despite initially announcing that its deliveries would fall short by 60% of original plans, the British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca agreed to supply an additional 9 million doses of its vaccine during the first quarter.
While the new figure is still only a half of the initial pledge, the company also announced plans to increase its manufacturing capacity in Europe.
Von der Leyen’s expectations received a fresh boost on Monday, as Pfizer pledged to increase its second quarter deliveries to the EU by an additional 75 million doses, bringing the bloc closer to achieving its stated goal.