Achieving the European Union’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population by the summer will be “difficult,” European Council President Charles Michel said Sunday.
“There are difficulties in the production lines in the coming weeks and that will make the process more complex,” Michel said in an interview on Europe 1 radio, “but if we manage to mobilize the production lines, we may be able to succeed.”
“It’s going to be difficult,” he added.
The vaccination target is part of a list of non-binding recommendations from the Commission, which Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides described on Tuesday as “ambitious.” According to POLITICO’s analysis, at the current rate of vaccination, it wouldn’t hit its target until March 2024.
“My conviction is that in the coming weeks, the implementation of vaccination campaigns will accelerate and become more fluid,” Michel said. “We are hopeful that next week, or at least at the end of January, a third vaccine will be available on the market.”
The EU has yet to sign off on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, but could do so as early as Monday. However, AstraZeneca on Friday said first deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc will be “lower than initially anticipated” because of “reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”
Michel convened a summit of EU leaders last week at which they discussed the response to the pandemic, including the emergence of several new, more contagious strains of the virus, and fears of production delays that could slow delivery of vaccines.
Asked in the radio interview about so-called vaccine passports, which are already being discussed by countries such as Greece and Italy, Michel said this discussion was being had “too soon.”
“For the time being, we must first work on a vaccination certificate that is recognized at the European or even global level,” he said.