BERLIN (AP) — The European Union’s difficulties in receiving coronavirus vaccine deliveries have highlighted the need for the bloc to redouble its efforts to produce its own doses, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel acknowledged in a speech to Parliament ahead of an EU summit that the vaccination rollout in Germany has not gone as smoothly as she had hoped. She, on the other hand, dismissed claims that not enough shots had been ordered, claiming that the issue was more about how many had been delivered.
“We can see clearly that British facilities are producing for Great Britain. The United States isn’t exporting, and therefore we are dependent upon what can be produced in Europe,” she said.
She said European leaders will discuss how the bloc can ensure a more stable vaccine supply in the future at the summit.
Merkel has previously urged the EU to exercise “very careful” when it comes to vaccine export bans. She has, however, stated that she supports the EU’s executive Commission’s efforts to ensure that vaccine contracts are fulfilled, citing the EU’s supply issues with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
She told Parliament that, in addition to ensuring its own supply, the EU must collaborate with other vaccine-producing nations to ensure that vaccines are available for everyone who needs them around the world.
“If we do not succeed with that, we will be confronted again and again with mutations, which raise the possible risk that the vaccines are no longer effective,” she said.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Germany has recorded over 75,000 deaths. On Thursday, the country’s disease control centre reported 22,657 new confirmed daily cases, up from 17,504 a week ago.
“We are in the third wave, and again seeing exponential growth,” Merkel cautioned.
Merkel and state governors agreed on a new framework to try to slow the spread of the virus earlier this week, though she backtracked on a planned 5-day shutdown over Easter.
Many restaurants, bars, and recreational facilities are still closed. A plan put forward earlier this month to allow limited reopenings — such as of shops — includes a “emergency brake,” under which regions are supposed to reimpose restrictions if the number of weekly infections exceeds 100 per 100,000 residents for three days in a row.
Germany is currently recording 113.3 weekly new cases per 100,000 residents nationwide, with wide regional variations.
Merkel urged Germans to get vaccinated as soon as they can and to use the coronavirus tests being provided as a “bridge” to help slow the spread of the virus until enough people have been vaccinated.
“The more that we test, the less we must restrict,” she said.
She said with the vaccines and the increased tests, a “light at the end of the tunnel is visible” and urged Germans to be as positive as possible.
“You can’t achieve anything if you only ever see the negative,” she said. “It is not for nothing that it’s said it is critical whether the glass is half full or half empty. If it’s always only half full, we won’t be able to develop the creative powers necessary as a country to get out of this crisis.”