Angela Merkel behind EU vaccine delay as Chancellor focused on sticking by bloc rules

Boris Johnson tells Angela Merkel to 'mute' during video call

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The German Chancellor, who has been helming the presidency of the European Union since January, continued to follow EU procedure instead of overriding rules to get the Covid vaccine out to member states. DW political editor Michaele Kufner said: “While there was pressure to act faster, DW has learned that no one around the table in Brussels has suggested a drastic step overriding EU rules. Instead Angela Merkel, at the helm of the EU presidency, stuck to EU procedure.

“In the meantime, the EU was bleeding jobs and income, a major injection of cash was needed.

“Here Angela Merkel did drastically change course.”

Ms Kufner continued: “The joint announcement with President Emmanuel Macron that governments wouldn’t have to pay back some £500billion in EU investment funds was hailed as a triumph of EU solidarity but this was an economic sticking plaster.

“Vaccines remained the only real ticket out of this crisis and on that the EU had dropped the ball.”

It comes as Boris Johnson has told world leaders there is “no point” in vaccinating national populations if efforts are not made to ensure the “whole word” receives jabs.

In the lead-up to Friday’s virtual G7 meeting, Boris Johnson pledged to donate the majority of the UK’s surplus vaccines to poorer nations.

Addressing the leaders from Downing Street, including US president Joe Biden in his first major multilateral meeting, Mr Johnson encouraged other developed nations to join the effort to increase the global vaccine supply.

He said: “Science is finally getting the upper hand on Covid which is a great, great thing and long overdue.

Angela Merkel forgets her face mask in German Parliament

“But there is no point in us vaccinating our individual populations – we’ve got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it’s no use one country being far ahead of another, we’ve got to move together.

“So one of the things that I know that colleagues will be wanting to do is to ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.”

The Prime Minister is expected to use Friday’s online gathering to argue for an increase in funding for Covax, the multilateral global vaccine supply scheme being led by the World Health Organisation and other international bodies.

In total, the UK has more than 400 million doses of vaccines on order, enough to vaccinate its population three times over.

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But with some vaccines ordered that have yet to be approved by the UK medicines regulator and the domestic inoculation programme still in full flow, the Government has not yet put a date on when the first Covax donations will be made.

When pressed on when the UK would be in a position to share extra vaccines with poorer countries, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told the BBC: “There are a number of variables, some of which are in our control.

“We’re not really able to give with certainty either a timescale or the numbers involved.”

During the opening exchanges of the G7 meeting, Mr Biden could be seen laughing on the video call on the screen inside the Cabinet Room after the Prime Minister jovially accused the president’s campaign team of stealing the UK Government’s “build back better” slogan.

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