Commission reiterates calls to step up vaccination, rapid deployment of boosters, vigilance and rapid reaction to Omicron variant

2 Dec 2021 11:32 AM

The Commission yesterday put forward a common and coordinated EU approach to address effectively the challenges from the resurgence of COVID-19 in many Member States this autumn.

There are rapidly rising case numbers and a renewed pressure on hospitals, which calls for urgent and determined action. The new potential threat from the Omicron variant is adding to these concerns, and underlines the importance of tackling the pandemic to progress towards long-term health security, both in the EU and globally.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, yesterday said:

"Over the last couple of weeks, many of us have witnessed it first hand: COVID 19 has resurged infecting some of our close friends, co-workers, family members or loved ones. The rapidly increasing case numbers are putting an increasingly heavy strain on our hospitals and health workers. On top the arrival of the presumably highly contiguous omicron variant calls for our utmost attention. But I am convinced that the EU is up to the task to tackle these challenges. Today we are presenting a broad array of actions, from stepping up our vaccination efforts and investment in treatments, to improving monitoring and prevention, and reinforcing our global solidarity. In the meantime I reiterate my urgent call to all of you: get vaccinated, get a booster, and follow the rules to protect yourselves."

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, added:

"The high transmissibility of the Delta variant, a significantly high immunity gap and the easing of non-pharmaceutical interventions will bring us a challenging winter. The emergence of the Omicron variant only adds to the urgent need to vaccinate and to boost our immunity in order to break transmission chains. Where needed, effective public health measures, including social distancing and masks need to be introduced.  We must act quickly and decisively to limit the spread of the virus and mitigate its impact."

The surge in cases of severe illness, especially among the unvaccinated, has resulted in an enormous pressure on hospitals and on already stretched healthcare staff. This also has a direct impact on the health of non-COVID patients as once again access to healthcare for other conditions is put under heavy strain by the need to treat COVID-19 patients. 

Coordinated action to combat COVID-19

The EU and Member States must demonstrate the capacity to react swiftly in order to address the upsurge in the virus and to maintain the drive for a strong and sustainable long-term response to this threat. This calls for determined and urgent responses, including:

The President has asked Professor Peter Piot to be the Commission's Chief Scientific Advisor for Epidemics, within his existing mandate.

Click here for the full press release