Monday, August 2

German Minister criticizes Von der Leyen for the ‘misfortune’ of Covid vaccines | Germany

Germany’s finance minister has attacked the European Commission’s Covid vaccination strategy as “really bullshit”, image has reported, as Angela Merkel’s center-left coalition partners seek to exploit anger over the issue ahead of federal elections.

Olaf Scholz, who is also the vice chancellor, allegedly criticized the commission’s chairwoman, Ursula von der Leyen, by name during a cabinet meeting on Monday, saying that Berlin could not “allow this shit to repeat itself” and that the The vaccine debacle was “a disaster.” misfortune”.

Scholz is the top cabinet member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the junior partners in Angela Merkel’s “grand coalition” led by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for 12 of the last 16 years.

The SPD fiercely opposed the appointment of Von der Leyen, a former defense minister and longtime Merkel ally, as head of the commission in 2019, describing her as an “unsuitable and inappropriate candidate.”

With federal elections scheduled for September, Merkel and her CDU health minister Jens Spahn are coming under increasingly intense fire from the pace of vaccine deployment in Germany, where just 3.2% of the population has so far received at least one dose.

By contrast, the UK has administered at least one dose to 15.5% of its residents, while several EU members, including Denmark (5%), Ireland (4%), Spain (3.8%) and Italy (3.7%) are also outperforming Germany. . The EU average is 3.16%.

This week, Merkel defended the EU process, admitting that she was “irritated” that others were getting vaccinated faster, but insisting that the bloc’s slower collective strategy was the correct one. “A virus that affects us all cannot be defeated by just one country,” he said.

The SPD, which lags behind in polls at roughly 15% versus 35% for the CDU, is betting to attack its coalition partner trying to capitalize on popular frustration over the vaccination program. Last month Scholz sent Spahn a four-page list of questions about the vaccination strategy.

Merkel and Spahn have been criticized for allowing the commission to take control of the procurement of vaccines, a move backed by the EU27 to prevent a repeat of divisions in the first wave of the pandemic when several member states blocked exports of vaccine equipment. protection.

It was feared that a similar approach to vaccines would have led wealthy countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands to get most of the doses, while smaller ones, like Croatia and Slovakia, inevitably lost in a solidarity failure. of the EU.

The commission eventually ordered 2.3 billion doses from six manufacturers, but with no experience in such a vast public procurement exercise, it is seen as having handled the negotiations more like business negotiations, focusing on price and liability rather than investing in securing a max injections so fast. as possible.

That led to EU orders being placed several months later than London and Washington and, in turn, led to a supply shortfall that forced many EU members, including Germany, to temporarily halt their delivery programs. vaccination.

The problems have been compounded by the European drug regulator’s longer approval process, production problems and delays in shipments from Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca, and some states are ill-prepared for the doses that have arrived.

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