Commission President von der Leyen paints gloomy picture on Omicron spread
Even as we battle this time the Delta variant still, we know that the Omicron variant is really threatening us. It is spreading at a ferocious pace and potentially has the risk of escaping our vaccines, at least partially,
said Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference following a meeting of the European Council on Thursday.
is likely to become the dominant variant as early as January 2022.Vaccination, and boosting, is the best protection currently available.We have enough doses, so that everybody can get vaccinated and get a booster shot. #Omicron— Ursula (von) December 16, 2021
She added that healthcare systems in the EU are overstretched right now, which is partly linked to the large number of unvaccinated patients.
She tweeted that about one third of the EU population have not received COVID-19 shots yet, with nine member states having a vaccination rate of under 60%.
67% of the EU population is vaccinated so far. But 9 Member States have a vaccination rate of less than 60% We need to work hard to increase vaccination rates.COVID-19 is weighting too much on our health systems, on society - especially young people - and on our economy. pic.twitter.com/ytPguiFZqn— Ursula (von) December 16, 2021
So in conclusion, the answer can only be to increase vaccination, to include children above five-years old, boosting and protective measures – that has to be the answer we give to this new variant,
said von der Leyen.
Hungary has started to administer Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 this week, but demand has been slack initially.
The President of the EU executive added there is also hope because the EU is in a “much better position than last year”.
“We are able today to produce 300 million doses of vaccines per month in the European Union. HERA is up and running. The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a big success. And by now, the European Union is indeed the largest exporter and donor of vaccines worldwide.”
The Commission continues to encourage Member States to order the necessary quantities for the months to come, said von der Leyen.
The Council has also discussed the question of possible adaptation of vaccines. The President said
the EU’s contracts foresee that the companies will develop adapted vaccines, if requested, within 100 days.
“And we are working very closely with EMA, the European Medicines Agency, to make sure that it uses the most streamlined procedure possible to assess any further vaccine development. In this context, I am glad to inform you that the Member States have agreed to trigger a first tranche of over 180 million extra doses of adapted vaccines, in our third contract with BioNTech-Pfizer.”
As regards the Certificate, von der Leyen said the Commission would present a delegated act, ensuring a common approach on boosters and the length of validity of the Certificate.
“Boosters are recommended at the latest six months after full vaccination. And the Certificate will remain valid for a grace period of three months beyond this.”