European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen attends a meeting. File photo
The EU is to donate another 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to low-income countries, more than doubling its present pledge, the bloc's chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
"I can announce today that the (European) Commission will add a new donation of another 200 million doses until the middle of next year. This is an investment in solidarity, and it is an investment also in global health," she told the European Parliament in her annual State of the European Union address.
Meanwhile, the pace of vaccination against COVID-19 must be quickened across the globe to avert "a pandemic of the non-vaccinated", the EU chief executive said on Wednesday in her annual policy speech.
Ursula von der Leyen's second 'state of the union' address since she took over as European Commission president comes after two years that have tested the resilience of the bloc with the COVID-19 pandemic, a sharp economic downturn and strains over Brexit.
"Let's make sure that it does not turn into a pandemic of the non-vaccinated," von der Leyen told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France.
Picture used for illustrative purposes only.
Announcing a new donation of another 200 million doses by the middle of next year, von der Leyen said she was also worried by variation of vaccination rates among the EU's member states.
"The next year will be another test of character," she said.
At the end of August, 70% of the adult population in the 27-nation EU had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This marked a milestone after a slow start, but also masked big differences among EU countries.
By mid April, 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered to the EU citizens.
Nineteen EU member states would have their economy back at pre-pandemic level this year, with the others following next year, she said.
Von der Leyen, wore a mask emblazoned with the EU flag's circle of 12 gold stars, greeting lawmakers at the assembly ahead of her speech with fist bumps.
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