Ursula von der Leyen began by saying that she faces the present situation with mixed feelings, “of concern and confidence".
“Like many of you, I am sad that we have another Christmas overshadowed by the pandemic and a new variant on the horizon. But, on the other hand, I feel confident, as we have the strength and the means to overcome the pandemic”, she declared.
Pointing out that "cases of infections have increased exponentially in Europe" and that some Member States currently register the highest rates of infection ever recorded, the president of the community executive said it is important "to be aware that this large increase in infections is due to almost exclusively to the Delta variant”, but that now the challenge is "double".
“But now we see a new variant on the horizon, Omicron, which is apparently even more transmissible. It seems to double every two or three days. Scientists tell us that by mid-January we should expect Omicron to be the new dominant variant in Europe. But we've worked hard and Europe is in a better position now to fight the virus”, she declared.
The Commission president emphasised that, thanks to hard work, the EU has “sufficient doses of vaccines to vaccinate every European citizen”, having already administered more than one billion doses, with 66.6% of the European population, the equivalent of about 300 million people, already with the “complete vaccination”, having 62 million received the booster dose.
“Based on the preliminary data we have on Omicron, science tells us that the triple dose [vaccination] is the best protection against the new variant. Of course, there is still a lot to know about Omicron, but a network of laboratories and specialists has already been created that allows us to monitor, day after day, the new data available” on this strain, she said.