Medical staff and patients from a retirement home in Villa Borghese in France get the Pfizer vaccines. Photo: AFP / Nathan Laine / Hans Lucas

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday 70% of adults in the European Union were now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, hitting an end-of-summer target the bloc set for itself in January.

“Today we reached an important milestone in our vaccination campaign. Seventy percent of adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated and that means 250 million people are fully immunized,” Von der Leyen said in a video posted online.

Von der Leyen heads the European Commission, which is responsible for ordering vaccines for the EU’s 27 member states, and had already announced in July that 70% of the adult population of the EU had received at least one dose.

The global fight against the coronavirus pandemic is now dominated by the battle against the Delta variant, a more contagious version of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The World Health Organization fears that the pandemic could kill an additional 236,000 people in Europe by December 1 and has expressed concern about the stagnating pace of vaccinations on the continent. 

Brussels has stressed the need for the EU to reduce the “worrying gap” in vaccination rates between member states and urged national authorities to be ready for the injection of a new dose to boost immunity if scientific data confirm the need for it.

The rate of fully vaccinated adults is about 20% in Bulgaria, 32.8% in Romania, 49% in Slovakia and 58.1% in Poland.

The level is 72.5% in France, 70.6% in Germany, 76.7% in Spain, and 85.5% in Ireland, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).