Ursula von der Leyen: EU vaccinations are catching up with the US

European Commission chief wants 70 per cent of adults offered at least one dose by end of July

The EU’s Covid vaccination campaign is catching up with the US’s programme despite the bloc exporting 220 million doses, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday.

Ms von der Leyen has criticised, often indirectly, countries such as the US and UK, suggesting that they have hoarded Covid vaccines.

The beginning of the EU’s inoculation drive suffered intense criticism earlier this year for its sluggish pace, which saw it lag behind countries such as the UAE, Israel, the UK and the US.

But Ms von der Leyen said the EU has exported 220 million jabs, nearly as many as it has used for its own citizens.

"We aim to have offered a jab to 70 per cent of all adults by the end of July … this is almost the same target as the one the US has set," she said.

President Joe Biden wants 70 per cent of US adults to have received at least one dose by July 4.

The US has exported 4.5 million doses until now, but plans to send another 80 million over the next six weeks.

"Others are keeping their entire vaccine production all to themselves, but the EU will reach its vaccination targets without sealing itself off from the world,” Ms von der Leyen said.

Her comments came as the World Health Organisation’s senior Europe official warned against international travel. Hans Kluge said the Indian variant of Covid-19, which appears to be more transmissible, had been found in nearly half of WHO Europe region countries.

"Right now, in the face of a continued threat and new uncertainty, we need to continue to exercise caution, and rethink or avoid international travel," he said.

Dr Kluge also said approved Covid vaccines were effective against the variants that have emerged but warned "the pandemic is not over yet".

"We are heading in the right direction, but need to keep a watchful eye," he said. "In several countries, there are pockets of increasing transmission that could quickly evolve into dangerous resurgences".

Updated: May 20, 2021 03:33 PM

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