The European Union, which has been lagging in getting its 450 million citizens vaccinated against COVID-19, expects to take delivery of 1 billion vaccine doses by the end of September, propelling it past its goal of inoculating at least 70% of its population by late summer.
A document presented to EU leaders on Tuesday and prepared by the European Commission shows the trading bloc expects to receive vaccines from four drug makers: Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +1.94% and its German partner BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +3.65% , Johnson & Johnson /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ +2.86% , AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +1.54% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +1.72% , and Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -3.03% , Reuters reported.
The document did not include either Germany’s CureVac /zigman2/quotes/219999729/composite CVAC +0.88% or France’s Sanofi /zigman2/quotes/201967021/composite SNY +1.10% /zigman2/quotes/206928357/delayed FR:SAN +1.95% , which are also developing vaccines and pushing to get them authorized. The EU has signed contracts with those companies, too, meaning that if they succeed in gaining emergency authorization the 27 member states would have even more supply.
The news came as EU leaders at a summit agreed to introduce a digital COVID-19 certificate proving vaccination on July 1, a move they hope will allow tourism to restart in force this summer.
The EU has said it would open its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from other regions. The certificate, which will include a scannable QR code that will link to digital signatures on EU servers, will show whether an individual has been fully vaccinated or has immunity from COVID after contracting the virus, AFP reported.
EU leaders also committed to sharing vaccines with other countries, a pledge first made at a G-20 summit in Rome last week. The EU has ordered up to 4.4 billion vaccine doses over the next two years and has said it would share up to 100 million doses by year-end.
That comes a day after the World Health Organization kicked off its annual meeting with a stinging critique of wealthier countries for allowing a “scandalous inequity’ in COVID-19 vaccines. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a small group of countries that make and buy the bulk of available vaccines “control the fate of the rest of the world.”
Tedros continued with that theme on Tuesday on social media.
U.S. health officials and the State Department on Monday warned Americans against travel to Japan because of a surge in coronavirus cases in the country, which is preparing to host the Olympics in just two months, the Associated Press reported.
The twin alerts don’t ban U.S. citizens from visiting the country, but they could have an impact on insurance rates for travelers and may factor into decisions by Olympic athletes and spectators as to whether to compete in or attend the delayed 2020 Summer Games, which are due to start in July.
“Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan,” the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new COVID-19 update. “Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Japan.”
Japanese surveys have consistently shown that many people are worried about their country’s hosting the event during a pandemic, but Prime Minister Yoshide Suga has pledged to forge ahead.
The U.S. vaccination drive continues with the CDC vaccine tracker showing that 130.6 million people are now fully vaccinated, equal to 39.3% of the population. Almost 164 million Americans have had at least one dose. Among adults aged 18 and older, roughly 50% are now fully vaccinated.
Among Americans 65 and older, 40.5 million people are fully vaccinated, equal to 74% of that group. Almost 47 million people in that age bracket have received a first jab, covering 85.4% of that population.
In other news:
• Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation banning private business and public entities, including schools, from requiring proof of COVID vaccination to provide services, according to local media. Alabama’s COVID-19 caseload, like the rest of the country’s, has eased in the last few months. According to BamaTracker, which collects data on the outbreak in the state, the seven-day daily average of cases was 200, the lowest number reported since April 8, 2020, near the dawn of the pandemic.