EU vaccine rollout labelled 'ineffectual' by Robert Oulds
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the Continent is still “far from out of the woods” when it comes to ending the Covid crisis. Its warning comes after the EU said it had reached its target of giving 70 percent of adults at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But just 57 percent of adults have received both shots to ensure they are fully jabbed against the virus.
Case numbers have risen across Europe every week for the past four weeks, according to official figures.
Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, warned: “We are far from out of the woods in terms of the pandemic ending”.
He also said that as the number of Delta variant cases continue to grow the “tremendous efforts by the member states to vaccinate people from the region” cannot stop millions of unvaccinated people from ending up in hospitals.
Mr Kluge added: “The good news is that the data clearly shows that receiving a full vaccination series significantly reduces the risk of severe disease and death.
“When called to do so, people should get vaccinated.”
The WHO and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have warned that efforts to curb the spread of the Delta variant, first discovered in India, must be bolstered.
On average, over 68 percent of COVID-19 infections in the majority of European countries were the more transmissible mutant strain.
Andrea Ammon, ECDC director, said the best way to restrict the spread of the virus is by “getting a full course of vaccination as soon as the opportunity arises and maintaining physical distancing, washing hands, avoiding crowded spaces and wearing a mask when necessary”.
Reluctance to get a vaccine is fast overtaking supply issues as the limiting factor in the EU’s vaccine roll-out.
A study by researchers ICense found that almost 50 percent of unvaccinated citizens in Belgium do not intend to ever get jabbed.
People blamed fear of side-effects and mistrust of the media for not wanting to get a vaccine.
The European Commission is now prioritising vaccine confidence as it helps launch new communication campaigns across the bloc.
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EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides is also touring member states in the hope of convincing people to get jabbed to ensure targets are reached.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The EU has kept its word and delivered.
“Our target was to protect 70 percent of adults in the European Union with at least one vaccination in July.
“Today we have achieved this target. And 57 percent of adults already have the full protection of double vaccination.”
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She added: “The delta variant is very dangerous. I therefore call on everyone – who has the opportunity – to be vaccinated. For their own health and to protect others.”
The Commission is now hoping to hit its next target of giving 70 percent of the adult population both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
This is expected to be reached by the end of summer, at the end of September.
The EU was largely criticised for its initially sluggish vaccine roll-out.
Brussels’ centralised scheme was hampered with supply issues and political rows with jabs manufacturer AstraZeneca.
In contrast, a leading epidemiologist said Britain will be largely out of the coronavirus pandemic within three months.
Professor Neil Ferguson said the UK’s world-leading vaccine roll-out had “fundamentally changed the equation” in fighting the disease.
He told the BBC: “The effect of vaccines has been huge in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death and I’m positive that by late September/October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic.
“We will still have Covid with us, we will still have people dying from Covid but we will have put the bulk of the pandemic behind us.”
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