Angela Merkel rejects calls to 'lead by example' by taking Oxford jab

Justin Huggler
·3-min read
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sean Gallup/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11774107b) German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives, virtually via video link, the 2021 report by the Council of Experts on Research and Innovation (EFI) in Berlin, Germany, 24 February 2021. The report is an advisory tool for the government in setting priorities for federally-supported research and related policies. For 2021 the report emphasizes, among other topics, the further digital adaptation of advanced training, gene editing and CRISP technologies and consequences on research and innovation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Merkel Receives 2021 Research And Innovation Report, Berlin, Germany - 24 Feb 2021 - Sean Gallup/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sean Gallup/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11774107b) German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives, virtually via video link, the 2021 report by the Council of Experts on Research and Innovation (EFI) in Berlin, Germany, 24 February 2021. The report is an advisory tool for the government in setting priorities for federally-supported research and related policies. For 2021 the report emphasizes, among other topics, the further digital adaptation of advanced training, gene editing and CRISP technologies and consequences on research and innovation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Merkel Receives 2021 Research And Innovation Report, Berlin, Germany - 24 Feb 2021 - Sean Gallup/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Angela Merkel dismissed suggestions she should ignore her government's guidelines and take the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

There had been calls for Mrs Merkel to "lead by example" and be vaccinated on camera in order to dispel German public fears over the jab.

"I do not belong to the recommended age group for AstraZeneca," Mrs Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only approved for under-65s in Germany, and Mrs Merkel is 66.

Germany is one of a number of European countries where the AstraZeneca vaccine is not currently approved for the over-65s because regulators said there was not enough clinical data on its effectiveness in older people.

Emmanuel Macron, who claimed the AstraZeneca vaccine was only "quasi-effectual" in the over-65s, said at a press conference on Thursday night he would take the jab if he was offered it.

Germany has a large anti-vaxxer movement and a recent poll found 34 per cent of its citizens do not want to take any vaccine against the Covid.

The jab has met with resistance from younger people, and so far, Germany has only been able to administer 240,000 of the 1.54 million doses AstraZeneca has delivered.

There are widespread reports of people cancelling their appointments or simply not turning up when they learn they are to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said: "It has been a very trying year but we should not let up now."

Meanwhile, British holidaymakers were offered some hope for a trip to the Continent this year after Mrs Merkel told the press conference that digital vaccination certificates would probably be available before the summer.

"Everyone agrees that we need a digital vaccination certificate," Mrs Merkel said, adding that the EU Commission would need around three months to create the technical basis for such documents.

However, she said that not enough people had been vaccinated for restrictions on non-essential travel to be lifted.

The EU has only vaccinated about six per cent of its population. Restrictions, which include a ban on non-essential travel from the UK, are expected to stay in place until the figure is closer to 70 per cent of adults.

Britain has vaccinated about 28 per cent of people.

Travel companies reported a surge in holiday bookings after Boris Johnson said the ban on international travel could be lifted on May 17.

Greece, which has opened travel talks with Israel and Britain, and Spain have demanded an EU Covid passport.