Merkel's spokesman pleads with Germans to take AstraZeneca jab

Angela Merkel’s spokesman pleads with Germans to take ‘safe and highly effective’ AstraZeneca jab after scaremongering wrecked their shambolic vaccination drive

  • Angela Merkel’s spokesman issued plea after it emerged Germans have been skipping vaccine appointments after being offered AstraZeneca jab 
  • Steffen Seibert insisted the British-made jab is ‘both safe and highly effective’  
  • Comes weeks after German minister wrongly said it doesn’t work in older people
  • Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to use the army to give AstraZeneca jab to police and soldiers in desperate bid to drive up inoculation rates 

Germany has been reduced to pleading with citizens to take AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine after scaremongering about the jab led people to reject it.

Steffen Seibert, Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, said this week that the British-made jab is ‘both safe and highly effective’ and will ‘save lives’ as he urged people to take it, just weeks after ministers wrongly claimed it doesn’t work in older people. 

He spoke after it emerged Germans have been skipping vaccination appointments when they learned they would be given the AstraZeneca jab – hampering the country’s already-slow roll-out.

Meanwhile Health Minister Jens Spahn suggesting drafting in the army to give the shots to soldiers and police officers in an attempt to drive inoculation rates up.

The UK has stormed ahead of France and Germany in its mass vaccination drive, with Europe’s plans hampered by supply problems and scaremongering over foreign jabs 

European leaders including in France and Germany previously suggested the AstraZeneca’s jab doesn’t work in older people, but new data (above) shows it provides strong protection across all age groups 

Real-world data collected in Scottish patients suggested AstraZeneca’s jab may actually be more effective at preventing severe Covid than the German-made Pfizer jab 

Spahn’s ministry confirmed it had asked the army for help in setting up two vaccination centers in Bonn and Berlin for state employees in uniform. 

Figures show that, of 1.5 million AstraZeneca shots due to have been delivered by the end of last week, only 187,000 have been used so far.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has met resistance in Germany and other European countries after trials showed it to be less effective than Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Research pushed by Germany’s top vaccine agency also suggested the vaccine causes stronger side effects than other jabs.

The research found that nearly a quarter of people receiving the AstraZeneca shot experienced flu-like symptoms, and around 15 per cent experienced shivers or fever – more than side effects reported from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

But AstraZeneca says the reported side effects are in line with observations from its clinical trials 

Germany was also quick to downplay AstraZeneca’s vaccine amid a row with the UK over jabs, but is now facing an embarrassing climbdown after data showed it may be more effective than the German-made Pfizer vaccine. 

Research conducted in Scotland on real-world Covid patients and released on Monday showed the AstraZeneca jab reduces the risk of being admitted to hospital by up to 94 per cent after just a single dose, compared to 85 per cent for Pfizer.

The same research also showed that just one jab of either vaccine offers strong protection across all age groups, with up to 80 per cent effectiveness even in the over-80s within a month of being inoculated.

The findings will also be embarrassing for French President Emmanuel Macron who previously said the AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘almost ineffective’ in the over-65s.

Skepticism around the vaccine led France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to recommend it only be used in younger people – despite the EU and the WHO saying it was safe for everyone. 

But German leaders have launched a public relations push to reassure the public that the AstraZeneca shot, developed at Britain’s Oxford University, works. 

Germany has so-far administered 5 million vaccine doses, or around six for every 100 residents, relying mostly on the Pfizer vaccine.

That puts it well behind the likes of Britain, which is relying heavily on the AstraZeneca jab, which has inoculated more than 26 in every hundred people.

It is now unlikely that Germany will have its entire adult population vaccinated by the end of the year, while the UK has vowed to offer every adult a jab by June 31.   

Data showing AstraZeneca’s jab is effective will be embarrassing for the likes of Merkel (left) and Macron, after they cast doubt over it amid a row with the UK over jabs

Britain has been pushing ahead with a mass vaccination drive that will see all adults offered a jab by June 31, while Europe’s drive has yet to gather pace

Britain’s mass-vaccination plan also got underway early in the new year, but it will take until at least April for Europe to start administering similar numbers of jabs.  

The latest German government figures indicate that it will take delivery of at least 10 million further doses of vaccine by April 4.

Spahn wants to start administering vaccines at family doctors’ practices as soon as 3 million to 5 million doses are delivered weekly, he told a meeting of leaders of Merkel’s conservative party earlier according to sources present.

That would help ease potential bottlenecks at the regional vaccination centers that have been set up by Germany’s 16 federal states.

While coronavirus cases have fallen in recent weeks, the rate of decline has slowed with the seven-day incidence rate hovering at around 60 cases per 100,000. 

On Monday, Germany reported 4,369 new infections and 62 further deaths.

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