Thierry Breton, the European Union’s commissioner for the internal market, has predicted that Europe could achieve herd immunity by July, as increased vaccine doses are expected to speed up the continent’s stuttering vaccine drive.
Speaking to a French television channel, Mr Breton said, “let’s take a symbolic date: by 14th July, we have the possibility of achieving immunity across the continent”.
He argued the EU is in the home stretch because it understands that vaccines are the solution to beating the pandemic, and that “the vaccines are arriving”.
Europe’s struggling vaccine program has been the subject of much controversy this year, with the bloc struggling to acquire adequate vaccine doses to match its intended vaccine rollout pace.
Additionally, in recent weeks, the vaccine drive in many nations in the bloc was complicated by the temporary suspension of use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine version, following isolated reports of blood clotting, although a European Medicines Agency report has since found it to be “safe and effective”.
The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout has been blighted by supply issues, with Mr Breton himself saying the company is not doing enough to reach its supply quotas, however, a fourth vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson has been approved for use in the EU, and is expected to arrive in April.
Meanwhile, unaffected by the temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in other EU nations, Malta’s vaccine program continues to roar ahead.
On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne, celebrated the achievement on Twitter, commenting he is “proud of our national effort”, and sharing a graph that appears to show Malta’s vaccination program as running faster than that of the United Kingdom and the United States.
Malta’s hospitality industry stakeholders, including the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, have called for the acceleration of Malta’s vaccination program, stating that the achieving of “so-called herd immunity” needs to be reached before “end June 2021”, to allow the industry a chance for an at least partially successful summer period, spurred by tourism.
However, an advisor to the British Government has warned the nation’s citizens that summer holiday’s overseas are “unlikely”, as the Government will not want to encourage citizens to travel to European countries currently experiencing high levels of coronavirus infections.
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