ANGELA Merkel tonight revealed she WILL now have the AstraZeneca Covid jab just days before her hard-hit country heads back into lockdown.
“Yes I would take the AstraZeneca vaccine,” the German chancellor told reporters adding she “would like to wait until it’s my turn but I would in any case”.
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Angela Merkel says she WILL now have the AstraZeneca vaccineCredit: EPA
Europe’s medicines regulator EMA has cleared the jab for use
She also said most of Germany’s regions will return to shutdown next week as a much-needed “emergency brake” initiative to halt the spread of the virus.
Merkel hit the headlines last month when she said she would not take the AstraZeneca vaccine because she is too old.
Her U-turn tonight came after its use was suspended for several days by major European countries – including Germany – over fears it may cause blood clots.
Europe’s medicines regulator EMA then cleared it for use after a review of the clotting cases, saying the vaccine was “safe and effective”.
But questions surrounding the jab were revived earlier today when France recommended it should only be given to people aged 55 and over because of the supposed risks.
Germany today resumed use of the jab and politicians were at pains to assure the population of its safety.
Winfried Kretschmann, state premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg, even had an AstraZeneca jab live on television.
“Have trust, get vaccinated,” he said in an appeal to the population.
Germany is battling to ramp up its vaccination roll-out as its health authorities warn virus numbers are rising at a shocking rate.
“It is very possible we will have a similar situation over Easter to the one we had before Christmas, with very high case numbers, many severe cases and deaths, and hospitals that are overwhelmed,” said Lars Schaade, vice president of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.
Ahead of talks on Monday with the country’s 16 state leaders to set new lockdown rules, Merkel said there would be no further easing of any current restrictions.
“We will have to also use this emergency brake,” she said, referring to an agreement to roll back easing in those regions where infections are growing fastest.
Vladimir Putin will be pleased as Germany looks to turn to Russia for vaccinesCredit: Reuters
Second city Hamburg said it would pull the “emergency brake” from Saturday after exceeding the 100-mark three days in a row. Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin, also crossed the benchmark on Friday.
Merkel spoke hours after Boris Johnson received his first dose of the AstraZeneca jab and declared: “I didn’t feel a thing”.
The British PM was given his first shot at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London – as European nations scrambled to undo their damaging blockade of it.
Earlier it was revealed Germany is set to strike a deal with Russia to get hold of its Sputnik V vaccine after the EU jab shambles.
He even suggested that Berlin could break with their European partners and go it alone if the rest of the bloc does not want to engage with Russia.
Speaking at a weekly news conference today, Mr Spahn said he would be in favour of signing a national supply deal with Russia for Sputnik V.
“I can also well imagine that we conclude contracts – and conclude them quickly,” he said.
Mr Spahn added that Germany wants to make clear how many doses can be delivered to them from Russia before putting pen to paper on a deal.
He added: “I am actually very much in favour of us doing it nationally if the European Union does not do something.”
Boris Johnson is pictured receiving his first dose of the Astrazeneca jab at St. Thomas’ Hospital
Germany is facing a third wave of Covid as the continent struggles with its vaccine rollout – including the chaos over the suspension and then rapid U-turn over the safe AstraZeneca jab.
Merkel’s nation recorded 17,860 new cases yesterday, its highest in two months, as the seven day moving average has been creeping up since the middle of February.
Health officials have warned Covid is spreading at an “exponential rate” as the mutant variants begin to surge in Germany.
Mr Spahn admitted that the country may have to “take steps backwards” and confessed that Germany’s vaccine plan was not enough to stop the third wave.
Three days were lost in Germany’s already flagging vaccination program due to the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine over baseless fears of blood clots.
So far only 8.5 per cent of the population has had their first jab, far behind the likes of Britain and the United States.
Regional leaders have called on Merkel’s government to speed up its review of Putin’s Sputnik V vaccine as they try to catch up.
Berlin mayor Michael Müller lamented “we need every vaccine we can get” and Bavarian premier Markus Söde said they need to “accelerate” the approval of Sputnik V.
“We need to approve it quickly and efficiently, not get bogged down in the classic, bureaucratic details,” Sode said.
If approved Sputnik V would become the first non-Western coronavirus jab to be certified for use across the EU.
It would also be a major PR win for Russia who faced questions last summer when it announced the creation of the jab – which was claimed to be world’s first vaccine against Covid.
Sputnik V’s developers claimed Monday that they had production deals with companies in Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
Vaccine centres have been left empty in Germany after the vaccine rollout chaos
German public health expert Karl Lauterbach warned against travelling at Easter as he suggested the nation could have to return to lockdown.
“With every week that we start later, we lose two to three weeks backwards,” he said, reported Bild.
And yesterday, The Sun Online revealed top German doctor Dr Christian Kröne believes “thousands” more people will die due to the EU vaccine blunders.
Thousands of jab appointments have been cancelled after the panic which saw 20 countries ditch the jab.
The GP branded the situation “chaos” as EU nations suspended use of the AZ vaccine – which was the “most stupid thing to do in a pandemic”.
Even though the European Medicines Agency last night finally concluded the jab was safe, the top doc said they have now lost valuable time in the fight against Covid.
Dr Kröner raged the the suspension may have already “ruined” flagging European trust in the vaccine after misinformation was spread by the government’s of Germany and France.
Within minutes of regulator EMA’s announcement, Italy became the first state to announce it was going to restart use of the AZ vaccine.
Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s biggest party Lega, said heads should roll over the fiasco and urged “full steam ahead” on deploying the AstraZeneca shot.
France and Germany also restarted use the vaccine today, with French prime minister Jean Castex being pictured getting incolated with the jab.
However in yet another confusing U-turn, France has now recommended that people under the age of 55 do not get the jab due to fears of blood clots – despite it being declared safe by the EMA.
It is the third change to the country’s vaccine policy in quick succession and follows French President Emmanuel Macron himself claiming the jab was “quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older”.
Meanwhile, France’s ambassador to the UK got the AstraZeneca vaccine on the NHS while the jab was still BANNED by her own nation.
Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Slovenia are also due to resume use of the vaccine today, while Portugal will resume on Monday, Spain and the Netherlands next week.
It comes as Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director, said she would take the Covid vaccine “tomorrow” if offered – after debating on its safety for days while the UK continues to steam ahead, now having almost 40 per cent of the population jabbed.