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The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Von der Leyen asleep on the job! EU chief under fire as vaccine chaos sweeps Germany

With Germany facing a surge in Covid cases, the country’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, has now been forced into a desperate deal to secure additional doses to keep the country’s vaccine programme running in 2022. However, it has been revealed the low number of vaccine supplies was caused by former Health Minister, Jens Spahn, and EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen. Neither official pushed for additional vaccine supplies provided under an order option with BioNTech.

According to Bild, the option expired in early autumn and would have given Germany additional doses in January 2022.

Under the agreement signed by the EU, the vaccine can be adopted free of charge if a new variant arises, the German paper reports.

The EU can also give the supplier a three-month notice if it requires more vaccines under the option.

It is estimated by the newspaper, 924 million vaccine doses would have been dispatched to the EU if the option had been taken up.

As the EU and its member states decided Brussels would handle vaccine procurement, the bloc has the ability or final say on deals and whether to take up certain options.

As a result of missing the option, Mr Lauterbach previously admitted Germany may not have enough vaccine doses.

He said: “In the next week we can deliver 1.2 million doses of BioNTech for all of Germany, the following week 800,000 doses and then another 1.2 million doses.

“More is simply not there. We are already using reserves, we are emptying everything.”

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This is in addition to the 35 million additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to the Vaccines Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.

“These new deals will future proof the Great British vaccination effort – which has so far delivered more than 115 million first, second and booster jabs across the UK – and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.

“This is a national mission and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms – so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted.”

Although cases have risen rapidly in the UK, this broad portfolio of vaccine supplies has allowed the Government to upscale the booster programme.

On December 12, 397,532 were vaccinated in the UK but on December 15, 745,183 were given a booster jab – the most since the booster programme began.