COVID-19

EU leaders' summit tackles slow vaccine rollout, border divisions

Europe is hoping for un uptick in Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine supplies from April, after the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca under-delivered.
Europe is hoping for un uptick in Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine supplies from April, after the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca under-delivered. AFP - JUSTIN TALLIS

EU leaders are meeting for a virtual summit Thursday as variants of the coronavirus continue to spread and vaccine rollout across the bloc remains sluggish.

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While ramping up vaccine production and delivery is the primary focus, the European Council meeting will also look at border restrictions and Covid-19 certificates.

Europe is hoping for un uptick in Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine supplies from April, after the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca under-delivered.

The EU Parliament's environment and industry committees will meet with pharmaceutical leaders on Thursday to look at ways of increasing the flow of vaccines.

A single-shot vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, which US regulators say offers strong protection against severe Covid, could reportedly be approved in the EU by mid-March.

Meanwhile France and Poland are tightening restrictions amid the spread of new virus mutations – as efforts to detect and sequence more contagious variants remain slow.

Separately, Brussels has warned six governments over unilateral border restrictions.

In the lead up to summer, member states whose economies depend on tourism want to see the introduction of travel certificates that would allow for greater movement within the EU.

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