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VDL considers mandatory Covid vaccines for whole of EU as bloc 'in race against time'

Speaking at a news conference on the latest development of the coronavirus pandemic, the EU Commission President admitted the Brussels executive has no power to force member states to impose health rules on their citizens. However, she urged a discussion on mandatory vaccinations across the bloc, and a potential common approach on the issue, should be had as soon as possible.

Mrs von der Leyen said that the challenge posed by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was a "race against time", urging all involved to "prepare for the worst".

Asked whether she would consider making vaccines mandatory across the EU, she replied: "This is pure member states competence, therefore in respect to that it's not up to me to give any kind of recommendation.

"But if you're asking me what my personal position is, two-three years ago I would never have thought to witness what we see right now.

"We have this horrible pandemic, we have the life-saving vaccines but they are not being used adequately everywhere.

"And thus, this brings an enormous health cost coming along.

"If you look at the numbers, we have now 77 percent of adults in the European Union who are vaccinated, or if you take the whole population it's 66 percent.

"And this means one-third of the EU population is not vaccinated.

"These are 150 million people. This is a lot.

"Not each and everyone can be vaccinated, there are very small children for example or people with special medical conditions.

"But the vast majority could and therefore I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now on how we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the EU.

"This needs discussion, a common approach, but it is a discussion that I think has to be had."

More to follow...