Germany sticks to coronavirus vaccine goal despite AstraZeneca pause

FILE PHOTO: A patient receives a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at dr. Andreas Carganico office in Berlin, where the first COVID-19 vaccinations are given in doctors’ surgeries, Germany, March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Pool

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is sticking to its goal of offering a coronavirus vaccination to everyone by the end of the summer, a government spokeswoman said on Wednesday despite its decision this week to suspend use of AstraZeneca doses due to safety worries.

More than a dozen European countries have paused use of the vaccine while the EU regulator investigates reports of 30 cases of unusual blood disorders out of 5 million recipients of the vaccine.

The regulator is expected to announce the results of a review on Thursday and Germany has said it will follow that advice.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that all Germans will have been offered a vaccination by Sept. 21 – five days before a federal election.

A government spokeswoman said the goal was unchanged.

The suspension has raised concerns that Germany will fall behind in its vaccine campaign which already lags countries like Britain, Israel and the United States. Some 8.1% of the 83 million population have been received at least one shot.

Facing some criticism that the move, even if only temporary, will put Germans off getting vaccinated, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the decision proved that controls were safe.

“Our system works,” Spahn said on Facebook, adding that incidents were reported, checked and, if necessary, action was taken. “That should actually strengthen confidence in vaccination,” he said.

Talks between Merkel and leaders of the 16 federal states on the vaccination campaign, in particular using family doctors to administer COVID-19 vaccines, is to take place on Friday.

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