Everyone in Germany should have been offered a coronavirus vaccine by the end of September, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin following talks with Germany’s 16 state leaders, Health Minister Jens Spahn, EU officials and vaccine producers, Merkel said that timetable should apply even if approval is not granted to vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and CureVac.
“We have to distinguish between commitments [to deliver vaccine doses] from those who already have approval … and two other vaccine manufacturers who also took part in the discussion today … who do not yet have approval,” the chancellor said.
“That means we have a minimum variant, on which we can now count relatively well, and a maximum variant, if all of them get approval. Under both variants … we can stick to our statement that by the end of the third quarter … we will be able to make every citizen an offer of vaccination,” she added.
But Merkel also cautioned that according to vaccine producers, “something can always occur during production that cannot be anticipated.”
Defending the European Commission against criticism that it had taken too long to negotiate vaccine deals, the chancellor said she supported the decision “to take the entire [issue of] liability to the political level and not to leave part of it with manufacturers.”
“That’s why the path has been slower at certain points, but I think there are also good reasons why it has been slower,” she said.
Merkel also dismissed the claim that the EU was too stingy to get good vaccine deals. “We talked to BioNTech [representatives], who said very clearly, more money would not have brought more production capacity,” she said.
Speaking at the same conference, Bavarian state leader Markus Söder said the EU vaccine strategy should “not be badmouthed nor should it be sugarcoated.”
“The European Union has said that from their point of view everything went according to plan — the truth is, of course, that many people realize [there are] differences in vaccination across Europe compared to other parts of the world,” he said.
Söder also emphasized that while vaccine producers had made commitments for how much they can deliver per quarter, they were not absolute guarantees.
“Miracles won’t happen now, but it will develop well,” Merkel said.