EU aims to vaccinate 70 pct adults by summer

BRUSSELS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission on Tuesday called on the European Union (EU) member states to speed up the vaccination against COVID-19, with a target to inoculate 70 percent of the adult population by summer.

According to a new communication unveiled by the EU's executive arm, at least 80 percent of the health and social workers as well as 80 percent of senior citizens over 80 years old should be vaccinated before the end of March.

"By summer this year, member states should have vaccinated a minimum of 70 percent of the adult population," said European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas at a press conference.

Margaritis also assured that the commission will work with vaccines producers to ramp up the production capacity and accelerate the supply.

"That could be a turning point in our fight against this virus," President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in the communication.

The bloc has authorized conditional marketing for two COVID-19 vaccines, one developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, the other by Moderna. Von der Leyen has said her commission has secured a total of 760 million doses of the two vaccines, enough to vaccinate 380 million people, or 80 percent of the EU population.

The newly published communication underlined a pledge to set up a mechanism to share the provision of vaccines with partner countries.

It also required EU member states to update their testing strategies to account for new variants and expand the use of rapid antigen tests.

With a vaccination strategy in place since June last year, the EU kicked off the massive vaccination across its member countries on Dec. 27, 2020.

The move has been plagued with a shortage of supply and a cry for donations to partner countries. One of its partners, Serbia has turned to a wider portfolio that also comprises Russian and Chinese vaccines.

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