Brussels says Covid-19 vaccine strategy to be accelerated in upcoming weeks

Brussels, Feb 28 (efe-epa).- The Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the European Union is expected to pick up speed within the coming weeks, the bloc’s Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira told Efe in an interview Sunday.

“We estimate that in two, three weeks everything will work normally, with production and distribution levels stronger than now,” Ferreira said.

The EU official urged countries to focus on their ability to administer shots to the population while this speedy Covid-19 vaccine rollout is reached, because doses will keep on “coming, coming and coming.”

Ferreira dismissed the idea the the EU was lagging behind many other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel, in its rate of inoculating people against the virus.

“I want to diverge a little from that idea that we are very late. We are working with great security so that citizens can have confidence,” she said, referring to the work of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in evaluating and approving the vaccines administered in the EU.

Vaccines that are “accepted in Europe go through a very careful, very detailed procedure to confirm the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” Ferreira stressed.

The EMA has given the green light to three Covid-19 vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech on Dec. 21, Moderna vaccine on Jan. 6, and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Jan. 29. All three provide protection against variants of the Covid-19 currently circulating in the EU.

A total of 29 million people in the European Union have been vaccinated so far, about 8 percent of the bloc’s adult population, according to the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday.

Von der Leyen said that both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are honoring their contracts, but, regarding Oxford-AstraZeneca, there is room for improvement where the fulfillment of the contract is concerned.

AstraZeneca is set to deliver 40 million vaccine doses to the EU in the first quarter of 2021, less than the amount agreed with Brussels. AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, hoped on Thursday to “ramp up” production for the second quarter.

The epidemiological situation remains serious, said von der Leyen, warning that the new variants pose additional challenges.

Von der Leyen added that the UK coronavirus variant is present in all of the EU’s 27 countries, the South African variant in 14 and the Brazilian in seven. EFE-EPA

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