EU aims to vaccinate at least 80% of healthcare workers and older citizens by March

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By Euronews
Medical delivery man Raphaël Abi Khalil, left, gives box of vaccine vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination against COVID-19,
Medical delivery man Raphaël Abi Khalil, left, gives box of vaccine vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination against COVID-19,   -  Copyright  Thibault Camus/AP Photo

The EU is aiming to vaccinate at least 80% of vulnerable people and healthcare workers by March, the Commission has said in a new communication on the bloc's COVID-19 response.

The Commission said that member states should have vaccinated a minimum of 70% of the adult population by summer 2021.

"We can soon start to see the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Now in particular, we need swift and coordinated action against the new variants of the virus," said health commissioner Stella Kyriakides in a statement.

The Commission has secured 2.3 billion vaccine doses for the bloc, enough to cover the entire EU population, officials said, pushing back on recent reports of member states investigating bilateral agreements with vaccine companies.

"We have already secured enough vaccines for the entire population of the European Union. Now we need to accelerate the delivery and speed up vaccination. Our aim is to have 70% of our adult population vaccinated by summer," Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said.

The EU also defended its support of the World Health Organisation's COVAX scheme. The EU has donated €853 million in support of the scheme.

The chief of WHO said just yesterday that the world was on the brink of a "catastrophic moral failure" due to the inequality of vaccinations.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that young and healthy people in rich countries should not be vaccinated before healthcare workers and older people in poor countries.

"This has never been about Europe first," said Kyriakides, explaining that EU officials felt there was a "responsibility" to ensure access for all.

Could the EU require a vaccination certificate for future travel?

The option of using a vaccine certificate, what some have called a vaccine passport, for travel appears to be a possibility in the future.

"This is a health policy tool which is important that we have in place," said health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, adding however that it was premature to use the certificates for anything besides health information.

Vice President Margaritis Schinas, meanwhile, said that certificates could help with "facilitating travel and easing restrictions".

The EU will agree on a common approach to these vaccine certificates by the end of January.