Nov 28, 2021 - Health

EU's von der Leyen: Focus on vaccinations as Omicron variant spreads

Ursula Von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Yves Herman - WPA Pool/Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday said the European Union should focus on pushing for greater vaccination rates to prepare for the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Von der Leyen's remarks come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the variant, first discovered in South Africa.

  • Omicron cases have been detected in a growing number of European member states, namely Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Cases have also been confirmed in the United Kingdom.
  • "The general line is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst," Von der Leyen said when explaining why the focus should be on preventative action, per Reuters.

What they're saying: "We know that we are in a race against time," Von der Leyen told reporters Sunday, according to Reuters.

  • "And the scientists and manufacturers need two to three weeks to have a full picture about the quality of the mutations of this Omicron variant," she added.
  • "The highest priority right now is social distancing, reduce the contact, but vaccinate and boost as much as possible."

Go deeper: COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

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