EU aims to vaccinate 70% of adults by end of August

BRUSSELS — The European Union is aiming to inoculate 70 percent of its adult population against the coronavirus before the end of August, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas tells a media conference.

That aim, agreed in a meeting of all EU commissioners, comes as most member states are struggling to achieve liftoff with their vaccination programs.

The bloc started injections three weeks ago and has so far approved two vaccines — from BioNTech/Pfizer and from Moderna — with others soon expected to follow.

But its pace of vaccination trails behind countries such as the US, Britain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides says that the EU’s joint-buying strategy means there are already enough doses to vaccinate 80 percent of the EU’s population of about 450 million.

She admits, though, that “vaccinations need to speed up.”

Schinas says: “We also propose that by summer, this year, member states should have vaccinated a minimum of 70 percent of the adult population.”

Later, he explains that that meant “by the end of summer,” which he says in Europe runs from June to the end of August.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen says in a statement that meeting the goal of 70 percent could be “a turning point in our fight against this virus.”

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