Europe wants to accelerate vaccination. From September, the target has been brought forward to July 2021. By then, 70% of adults will be vaccinated, hopes European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Visiting the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine production plant in Puurs (Belgium) on Friday April 23, she said ” trusting “ in this new goal “Thanks to the enormous efforts of the biotechnology company Pfizer and the acceleration of its vaccine deliveries”.

After the false start at the start of the year, Europe wants to show that it can keep its promises. And surpass them. The announcement confirms the forecasts of the European Union (EU) “Mister vaccine” Thierry Breton. Appointed at the head of the European “task force” for vaccines in the aftermath of AstraZeneca’s first delivery setbacks, it is to him that the EU owes this new timetable. “He does not only travel to television sets, he is also in regular contact with the production managers of these companies”, greets the head of the representation of the European Commission in France, Baudouin Baudru. “He makes sure that things move as advertised and that any problem is identified immediately to ensure that the production delivery pattern is adhered to. “

Exponential increase in production capacity

Unless there is a mishap, the goal has a good chance of being met, he believes. The supply figures speak for themselves. The Pfizer / BioNTech laboratory must go from 67 million doses delivered in the first quarter to 250 million in the second quarter, Moderna from 10 million to 35 million and AstraZeneca from 30 million to (except further delay) 70 million in the second quarter. As for the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson just authorized, 55 million doses must be delivered this quarter. The latter has the advantage of requiring only one injection.

A new contract with Pfizer / BioNTech is being negotiated which should record the delivery of 1.8 billion doses of first and new generation vaccines between 2021 and 2023. This order should not be used “Only EU citizens but also third countries in greatest difficulty”, says Baudouin Baudru. “The EU is the only continent which both ensures its own vaccine production and delivers doses to the rest of the world”, remarks Isabelle Marchais, in charge of health issues at the Jacques Delors Institute.

Next challenge: overcoming mistrust

Vaccines on the table, “The ball will be in the court of the Member States to organize the campaign”, botte en touch the representative of the European Commission in France. 20.41% of the European population has already received a first dose. To reach their summer goal, the Twenty-Seven will still have to bite 4 million people a day. And reassure a scalded population by the appearance of rare cases of thrombosis after vaccination with AstraZeneca and Jansen.

More than the stock of vaccines, “Vaccine hesitation will be the most difficult to overcome”, warns Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva. After laboratories, the European Union, countries and health professionals, the success of the vaccination campaign will depend on the success of the communicators.

“We need massive information campaigns to explain why young people have an interest in being vaccinated and also target the socially most disadvantaged segments”, asserts the epidemiologist. Otherwise the goal of 70% could only remain a mirage. The Institut Pasteur believes that a “Return to normal life” will only be possible if 90% of adults are vaccinated.


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