VILNIUS – The European Union (EU) should seek to vaccinate approximately 70 percent of its population by summer in order to reach herd immunity, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.
He also noted that the existing vaccine quantities, based on current deliveries, would suffice to vaccinate less than one-third of the society, but he hoped that the EU would authorize vaccines of other manufacturers for use.
“Quantitative targets act as an impetus to mobilize resources, that is the reason of this initiative to vaccinate the critical mass of population, up to 70 percent, and to reach herd immunity not just in Lithuania but across the entire European Union. Having set this target, I contacted my colleagues and, together with the leaders of Latvia and Estonia, we issued a joint statement calling on the EU to seek to vaccinate, by summer, a sufficient number of people to reach herd immunity,” he said in a video published to the media before the video conference of the European Council.
However, he noted that the current rate of vaccine production and distribution was insufficient to achieve that goal and added that “there are things happening that cannot be fully explained and it is vitally important to ensure transparency”, therefore the European Commission should seek to prevent any abuse.
“Some manufacturers have scaled down their production volumes even though we know that production capacities have not decreased. This raises questions about where do those additional vaccine quantities go and these questions do not contribute to the atmosphere of solidarity in the European Union. That’s why I think that the European Commission, which has done an excellent job as a collective vaccine buyer, should also participate actively in the subsequent stages of the process so as to prevent such abuses,” the Lithuanian president said.
“It is very important and I hope that this will be the case, and we will authorize vaccines of other manufacturers in the near future. Otherwise, we would be able to vaccinate, at best, 25–30 percent of population by summer, based on the current rates of production and distribution, which is obviously insufficient. However, if there are additional manufacturers, which is likely to happen in the nearest months, and will likely include AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson, we will likely be able to achieve that far-reaching goal by summer,” he added.
So far, the EU has granted a conditional marketing authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
Lithuania has decided to team up with other EU countries for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines from six developers: Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Sanofi/GSK, Pfizer/BioNTech, and CureVac.