The European Union is at the beginning of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president of the European Commission warned on Thursday.
Ursula von der Leyen spoke at a press conference following a virtual summit of EU leaders, at which EU heads of state and government discussed a response to the health crisis.
“We are at the beginning of the third wave in Europe, and in many European member states the number of infections is rising again, mainly through strain B117,” said von der Layen.
She said that the current situation “emphasizes the importance of rapid vaccination”, with which EU leaders also agreed.
Although the European Union signed pre-procurement agreements with six vaccine manufacturers last year to buy about 2.6 billion doses of the vaccine, the EU is working hard to launch vaccination campaigns and secure contract supplies.
According to von der Leyen, about 88 million doses of the vaccine were delivered to the EU, of which 62 million were given to patients and 18.2 million or 4.1% of the population received two injections.
However, she assured that supplies in the second quarter of the year were promising, which “means that we are on track to achieve our goal, and this summer we want to vaccinate 70% of the adult population in the European Union.”
In light of the situation, EU leaders also agreed to maintain travel restrictions that are not necessary.
At the same time, they promised to intensify work on pan-European digital certificates in preparation for the gradual lifting of restrictions.
US President Joe Biden also joined the video conference. EU leaders agreed with him to discuss a new transatlantic agenda, as well as their commitment to supporting the global supply chain of COVID-19 vaccines.