Ursula von der Leyen says citizens in the 27-nation bloc could be vaccinated against coronavirus by Christmas.

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen wears a mask during a debate on next EU council and last Brexit development during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2020.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen wears a mask during a debate on next EU council and last Brexit development during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2020. (Reuters)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned against relaxing coronavirus lockdown measures too quickly, telling the European Parliament there was a risk of a third wave of infections.

"I know that shop owners, bartenders, and waiters in restaurants want an end to restrictions. But we must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes," von der Leyen said. on Wednesday.

"Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," she told EU lawmakers. 

READ MORE: Russia reports record number of 507 new Covid-19 deaths – latest updates

'First virus vaccinations possible by Christmas'

She also said that the first citizens in the 27 nation bloc could be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Christmas, but she warned that member countries must urgently prepare their logistical chains for the rollout of hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccines.

Saying that “there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel,” Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers that “the first European citizens might already be vaccinated before the end of December.”

The commission, the EU's executive arm, has agreements with six potential vaccine suppliers and is working on a seventh contract.
The deals allow it to purchase over 800 million doses, more than the population of the bloc, which stands at around 460 million people.

READ MORE: France evicts hundreds of migrants amid Covid-19 fears

'What counts are vaccinations'

On Tuesday, Brussels said it would sign a contract for up to 160 million doses of the experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna, which the company says appears to be 94.5 percent effective, according to its preliminary data.

But von der Leyen said that while vaccines are important, “what counts are vaccinations”.

"Member states must get ready now. We’re talking about millions of syringes, we’re talking about cold chains, we’re talking about organizing vaccination centres, we’re talking about trained personnel that is there. You name it. All this has to be prepared,” she warned.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies