Germany's Merkel: EU needs to increase vaccine production

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the German parliament Bundestag ahead of an European Union summit at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN – The European Union's problems with getting deliveries of coronavirus vaccines have underscored the need for the bloc to redouble its efforts to produce its own doses, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

Speaking to Parliament ahead of an EU summit, Merkel acknowledged that the vaccination rollout in Germany has not gone as quickly as hoped. But she rejected criticism that not enough shots had been ordered, instead saying it was more about how many had been delivered.

“We can see clearly that British facilities are producing for Great Britain. The United States isn't exporting, and therefore we are dependent upon what can be produced in Europe,” she said.

At the summit, she said European leaders planned to talk about how the bloc can ensure a steadier vaccine supply for the future.

Merkel has previously urged the EU to be “very careful” with vaccine export bans. But she has said she supports efforts by the bloc’s executive Commission to ensure that vaccine contracts are fulfilled, citing the supply problems the EU has had with the AstraZeneca shot.

She told Parliament that in addition to ensuring its own supply, the EU must work with other vaccine-producing countries to ensure there's enough vaccines available for everyone around the world who needs it.

“If we do not succeed with that, we will be confronted again and again with mutations, which raise the possible risk that the vaccines are no longer effective,” she said.

Germany has registered more than 75,000 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic. The country’s disease control center reported 22,657 new confirmed daily cases Thursday, up from 17,504 new daily cases a week ago.