ANGELA Merkel has said she will not take the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because she is too old, despite begging Germans to take the jab.
The German chancellor, 66, was asked if she would take the jab to set an example to a country where many are refusing and 1.2million of the shots are lying unused in storage.
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Angela Merkel has warned that Germany could be plunged into another lockdown but says she won’t take the jab[/caption]
But Merkel told FAZ that she was not eligible because German regulators have restricted the jab to under-65s, a move which has yet to be reversed even after data from Scotland showed it is highly effective in the elderly.
“In addition to the particularly vulnerable and elderly, I think it is correct to first invite population groups who cannot keep a distance in their jobs to be vaccinated,” she said.
“A daycare educator, a primary school teacher cannot do that. These are the people who should get a turn before someone like me.”
The chancellor said she is able to keep her distance at work and does not want to be vaccinated until it is her turn, according to the recommended prioritisation by the Standing Committee on Vaccination.
Meanwhile, Merkel and the country’s state premiers have agreed to extend Covid restrictions until March 7 in a bid to stop a surge in cases.
In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Ms Merkel warned that highly transmissible new variants threatened to undermine the gains made in lockdown.
She told the newspaper: “Because of (variants), we are entering a new phase of the pandemic, from which a third wave may emerge.
“So we must proceed wisely and carefully so that a third wave does not necessitate a new complete shutdown throughout Germany.”
The chancellor also revealed Germany will consider restricting certain areas or places to people who have been vaccinated.
According to national news site Tag 24, there are mounting public fears in the German public about possible social segregation due to the COVID-19 vaccine, resulting in a possible two-class society.
“If we have made a vaccination offer to enough people and some of them do not want to be vaccinated at all, we would have to consider whether openings and access to certain areas should only be given to vaccinated people,” she said.
“But we are not there yet. In addition, it must first be clearly clarified that vaccinated people are no longer contagious.”
It comes as a German virologist today revealed the country was sitting on a whopping 1.2 million Oxford jabs – after EU leaders repeatedly made baseless allegations about its efficacy.
Merkel today said a “third wave” of infections could sweep the country as it struggles with the jab rollout – as the UK counts down the days to freedom.
Just four per cent of the German population has been immunised, compared to England’s 27.4 per cent, according to the BBC.
Responding to Germany’s reluctance to get the jab, Professor Thomas Mertens told BBC Radio 4 that there was a “problem” in rolling out the vaccine in Germany.
He said: “At the moment we have 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in-store and only about 240,000 doses have been given to the people, that is definitely a problem at the moment.”
He added: “We are trying to convince people to accept that vaccine and build up the trust for the vaccine within the population.
“But as you may know, there is a psychological problem too and it will take some time to reach this goal.”
It comes as:
- France follows Merkel in begging citizens to have Oxford vaccine
- Surge Covid testing in part of London after South African variant found
- Face masks and Covid tests are NOT compulsory in schools, gov says
- Rishi Sunak set to extend furlough and Universal Credit support
France is now also preparing for a third lockdown after seeing a spike in cases following a slow response with its vaccination program.
Experts at the prestigious Institut Pasteur say France’s pace of around 100,000 jabs a day is ‘insufficient’ to rein in the effects of the highly contagious UK variant.
They say the country faces a new wave of severe cases in April and May as the UK expects to ease its restrictions after all over-50s have been vaccinated.
It comes after Germany reported its highest rise in cases for three weeks yesterday, with new 10,774 infections recorded.
Angela Merkel has stressed that she will not reopen the economy fully until infections fall below 35 cases per 100,000.
This means the country’s current incidence rate of 76.6 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days will need to halve in order for restaurants and pubs to open their doors.
But so far the country has seen a sluggish vaccine rollout hampered by production delays, political infighting and confusion over the use of the Oxford jab in over-65s.
German authorities previously refused to recommend the use of the Oxford vaccine in older age groups due to a ‘lack of data’ – but have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn.
Ms Merkel is under increased pressure to speed up the rollout with the country inoculating fewer than 900,000 people a week, reported The Times.
Meanwhile, large swathes of older people across Europe have refused the Oxford jab after EU leaders repeatedly made baseless allegations about its efficacy.
German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the jab was “hardly effective in seniors” in a controversial article on January 25 – but the data used to back the claims was rubbished by AstraZeneca.
In the same week, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed the vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” for people over 65.
It comes despite a study finding that just one shot of the British-made Covid jab slashes older people’s risk of being taken to hospital by 94 per cent.
But with both governments under increasing pressure to replicate Britain’s vaccination success, leaders have launched a fresh push to encourage over-65s to come forward to get the jab.
Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert urged Germans to come forward and get immunised.
He tweeted on Monday: “The vaccine from AstraZeneca is both safe and highly effective… The vaccine can save lives.”
And the French government has said it wants to “rehabilitate” the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the health ministry admitting that the jab had an “image deficit”.
‘We will use all possible levers to rehabilitate the vaccine,’ the French health ministry said, according to Le Telegramme, days after Scottish data proved the AstraZeneca jab does work well.
EU Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen, who was involved in a furious row with Astrazeneca over supplies, also said this week she would “take the AstraZeneca vaccine without a second thought”.
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Meanwhile, Germany’s highest-selling newspaper Bild yesterday said the UK’s ‘successful’ vaccine programme had allowed Boris Johnson to promise a brighter future to Brits while Germany is “stuck in lockdown”.
Boris Johnson on Monday unveiled his roadmap out of lockdown, with all legal restrictions set to be lifted on June 21 should cases continue to fall.
Citing Britain’s vaccination success as a reason to be optimistic, Bild’s front page headline read: “Dear Brits, we envy you!”