Holidays blow for Brits as EU vaccine drive could be delayed by TWO MONTHS – and Brussels says it's set to ditch AZ jab

BRITS' foreign holiday hopes have been dealt a major blow after it emerged the EU's vaccine drive could be delayed by two months.

European countries may not be able to jab enough of their populations to qualify for green status under the traffic light travel system.

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The bloc was relying heavily on the Johnson and Johnson shot to make up lost ground, but deliveries have now been paused over blood clot fears.

Despite the crisis Ursula von der Leyen has announced the EU is set to ditch the Oxford vaccine in future and favour the "proven" Pfizer jab.

And today Denmark became the first European country to permanently scrap the use of the Oxford dose.

Under the UK's new travel rules tourists returning from green countries will be exempted from quarantine and expensive testing requirements.

Destinations will be classified on a number of criteria, with the rate of their vaccination programme a key consideration.

Malta and Portugal are the only European countries set to be included on the green list when the blanket holiday ban is dropped on May 17.

And new analysis by data firm Airfinity shows the EU now isn't set to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations until December 8.

Brussels has set a target of vaccinating 70% of its adult population by September 21, and insists that's still achievable.

Its vaccines tsar Thierry Breton said: "By mid-July EU member states will have enough doses to vaccinate 70% of Flag of European Union adults."

The continent's vaccination drive started off at a snail's pace, but has recently shown signs of spurting into life.

So far the EU has delivered 100m vaccinations, and more than 27m people have had two jabs.

Mrs von der Leyen announced today that Pfizer will "speed up" production and deliver an extra 50m doses to EU countries this quarter.

But the bloc was still banking on the Johnson and Johnson jab coming on stream and was expecting 55m doses this quarter.

Airfinity said: "If the EU can't use the J&J vaccine indefinitely it could push the timeline for vaccinating 75% of the population back into December."

The American firm has suspended deliveries to Europe following reports of rare blood clots in recipients in the US.

Scientists at the European Medicines Agency are investigating the incidents and will issue a recommendation next week.

It comes after the UK and many European countries limited the use of the AZ jab in younger people over a possible link to clotting.

The J&J and the Oxford shot are both based on the same traditional viral vector technology.

And today Mrs von der Leyen announced that the EU is set to favour jabs that rely on the newer mRNA method, like Pfizer and Moderna, in future.

She said: "To prepare for the future, we are drawing the lessons from the first phase of our answer to the pandemic.

“At a certain point in time, we might need booster jabs to reinforce and prolong immunity.

"And if escape-variants occur, we will need to develop vaccines that are adapted to new variants.

“Having this in mind we need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth. mRNA vaccines are a clear case in point."

She announced Brussels is opening talks with Pfizer for a further 1.8bn doses of its vaccine to de delivered in 2022 and 2023.

The move marks a further escalation in the bloc's ongoing spat with AstraZeneca over supplies.

It also makes a deal between the EU and the Russian makers of the Sputnik jab increasingly unlikely.

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