Germany Plans Aggressive Vaccine Rollout After Slow Start
(Bloomberg) -- Germany will drastically speed up its coronavirus vaccination campaign and aims to get shots to as many as 10 million people a week from the end of March.
But such an ambitious target, mentioned by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz late on Sunday, would require Germany to turbo-charge a rollout that’s been underwhelming so far. It’s distributed about 7.3 million doses in total since inoculations started ten weeks ago, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fire for the country’s slow campaign, which has forced the government to prolong lockdowns. The same issue is playing out across European Union countries, pushing them to sometimes take dramatic steps. Italy last week blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine to Australia, using a recently introduced EU regulation for the first time.
AstraZeneca has so far delivered about 10.7 million vaccines to the EU, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. That’s just over a quarter of the 40 million doses the company has promised to supply by the end of March.
Governments are counting on increased deliveries of existing vaccines, as well as approval for others, to help accelerate the rollout. European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer clarified to journalists in Brussels on Monday that the forecast for 300 million in the second quarter takes all available vaccines into account, including those yet to gain regulatory approval, such as one from Johnson & Johnson.
The J&J shot is expected to be accepted at the European level this week, EU internal markets chief, Thierry Breton, said on France 2 television. He said that the EU would double its vaccine production and would see output of 90 million to 100 million doses a month by the end of March.
Scholz said that vaccination centers and doctors will have to handle millions of doses every week in April, May and June. “And I have seen to it that this will be well prepared for,” he said in an interview with ZDF television.
Merkel has promised all Germans a first shot of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of September, as long as drugmakers stick to their delivery commitments.
Last week Merkel extended some curbs to March 28, but also unveiled a plan to gradually relax restrictions. On Monday, book stores, flower shops and gardening centers reopened and more people were allowed to meet up privately. But more easing steps depend on a further slowdown in Covid-19 infection rates.
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