Brussels (Belgium): The European Union needs to accelerate the process of mass vaccination against the novel coronavirus, as well as that of vaccine deliveries, Maros Sefcovic, the vice-president of the European Commission in charge of the Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said on Monday.
The bloc has secured so far almost 2.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the broadest portfolio in the world, that will allow more than 1 billion people in Europe to be vaccinated. However, according to the senior EU official, there is a large gap between the supplies and the number of those who already received injections.
“We, first, need to accelerate the vaccination and vaccine supplies, because vaccines on their own achieve nothing,” Sefcovic said at a press conference.
According to the vice-president, the EU needs to ramp up the supply of vaccines by working with companies to maximize production capacity within the bloc. In particular, the member states can invest in new manufacturing plants, securing agreements with producers to repurpose their companies.
Commenting on the possible introduction of vaccination certificates, the official said that the bloc did not intend to create a situation in which EU residents who were not vaccinated against the coronavirus would face curbs on their rights and freedoms. The aim is to gather data to use it for medical purposes, to assess the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Vaccination is voluntary. We will have, I am sure, a lot of people who, for example, cannot be vaccinated because of medical purposes, even some of them just simply would not like to be vaccinated. And, therefore, we are taking all the precautions that we would not create any ground for different treatment of these people, or any kind of limitations of their rights,” Sefcovic added.
Last week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis proposed to introduce a standardized EU COVID-19 vaccination certificate. The idea to standardize the certificate aims at facilitating free movement and travel across the bloc. The initiative is set to be discussed during a virtual conference of 27 EU leaders on COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday.