Merkel says she ‘would take AstraZeneca vaccine’

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that she was ready to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca's coronavirus jab if offered when it is her turn to be inoculated.

Merkel says she 'would take AstraZeneca vaccine'
Merkel speaking in Berlin on Friday. Photo: DPA

“Yes I would take the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she told journalists at a news conference, adding however she “would like to wait until it’s my turn but I would in any case”.

Merkel’s firm endorsement of the vaccine came after its use was suspended for several days this week by major European countries, including Germany, over fears that it may cause blood clots.

Europe’s medicines regulator EMA on Thursday cleared it for use after a review of the clotting cases, saying the vaccine was “safe and effective”.

READ ALSO: Germany to use AstraZeneca vaccine from Friday

But questions surrounding the jab jointly developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford were revived when France on Friday recommended it should be given only to people aged 55 and over because of the clotting risks.

Germany on Friday resumed use of the Anglo-Swedish company’s jabs, and politicians have taken pains to assure the population of the vaccine’s safety.

Winfried Kretschmann, state premier of Baden-Württemberg, got an AstraZeneca jab live on television.

“Have trust, get vaccinated,” he said in an appeal to the population. AstraZeneca has faced a series of setbacks since it was approved for use in the European Union.

Besides delivery delays that angered the bloc, Germany had in the initial weeks of its use limited it to people under 65-years-old because of insufficient efficacy data for older people.

Critics had complained that the decision to halt use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine over the recent days because of clotting risks only served to fuel more mistrust over the jabs and further delay Germany’s already sluggish inoculation programme.

Member comments

  1. Merkel’s approach to getting Germany out of the virus crisis was always slow and complacent, now it’s positively negligent.

    Where are the 24 hour vaccination centres? Where is the sense of urgency?
    Where is the determination to do whatever is necessary to source sufficient volumes to get the programme moving?

    Nowhere. Just more of the stolid immovability and “observe the proper protocols” inertia that serves Merkel well in more normal times.

    She’s a disgrace.

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Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.