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EU commissioner says Europe can achieve herd immunity by July

Several European countries have started reimposing restrictions as they contend with surging coronavirus infections.

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton
European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton
Image: JOHN THYS

AN EU COMMISSIONER has said Europe could have herd immunity against Covid-19 by July, as incoming jabs are expected to speed up the continent’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market, told French broadcaster TF1: “Let’s take a symbolic date: by 14 July, we have the possibility of achieving immunity across the continent.

“We’re in the home stretch, because we know that to beat this pandemic there’s just one solution: vaccination. The vaccines are arriving.”

The note of optimism comes even as several European countries have started reimposing restrictions as they contend with surging coronavirus infections, and after mixed messaging on the safety of a key jab.

More than one third of France’s population is now under renewed lockdown, while frustrations over virus curbs spilled into weekend demonstrations in Germany, Amsterdam, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

Europe’s battle to prevent a deadly third wave of infections has been complicated by a patchy vaccine drive that included several nations temporarily halting AstraZeneca’s shots in response to isolated cases of blood clots.

Most have since resumed using the vaccine after the European Medicines Agency found it “safe and effective”.

But AstraZeneca has delivered only 30% of the 90 million doses it promised the EU for the first three months of the year.

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Breton said he was confident more vaccines will arrive soon, with 300-350 million doses expected between now and June.

He added that 55 factories would now be producing vaccines in Europe.

Health officials in Ireland last night confirmed two deaths and 769 new cases – the highest daily figure since February. 

It comes as Government is set to make a decision on easing restrictions next week. 

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AFP

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