COVID-19

EU leaders unite over 'vaccine passport' before summer

European Council President Charles Michel chairs the video summit from Brussels on 25 February, 2020.
European Council President Charles Michel chairs the video summit from Brussels on 25 February, 2020. REUTERS - POOL

EU leaders have hashed out ways to ramp up vaccine production and delivery at a summit that also made progress on the idea of introducing a vaccine travel certificate by the summer.

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Thursday's online summit came as variants of the coronavirus continue to spread across Europe, where vaccine roll-out has been slow.

Divisions over border restrictions, particularly in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, have raised concerns over travel delays and traffic jams.

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

It is hoped that "convergence" made around the concept of a vaccine passport will allow for greater movement within the bloc and give a boost to member states whose economies depend on tourism.

'Making progress'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that despite a sluggish start to immunisation, 8 percent of the EU’s adult population had now been vaccinated.

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

Covid-19 has killed more than 531,000 people across the EU’s 27 nations.

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