EU panic: Bloc’s jab rollout running out of steam with Delta variant threatening new wave

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Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn was amongst the desperate politicians calling for people to go out and get a COVID-19 jab as quick as possible. France, Italy and Austria are also struggling to maintain the pace of inoculations in the face of a sudden surge of cases. It has sparked fears that EU nations, and other developed countries, could fall short of the vaccination rates needed to achieve herd immunity.

And the situation is only made worse because the Delta variant, found in India and dominate in the UK, is more transmissible than other coronavirus strains.

Daily case rates in the UK are already at a high-month high and there has been cause for concern in Spain and Portugal with infections once again creeping up.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, France’s tourism minister, urged people to go out and get a jab immediately.

He told Franceinfo radio: “The virus can kill you, there vaccine is there to save you, so don’t hesitate.”

Germany proved to be one of the causes for celebration in the EU’s snail-paced jabs rollout.

Berlin successfully accelerated its programme after a sluggish start fuelled by a lack of supplies procured by the European Commission.

It had been dishing out more than a million doses on some days in recent weeks, but last week only managed that on Wednesday.

Mr Spahn promised to make doses of coronavirus vaccines more accessible to the public, by opening jabs centres in public markets and sports clubs.

“Maybe we could have a ‘vaccination weekend’ for Germany to reach everybody, and then we will achieve a high rate,” the minister told German radio.

He also signalled that Germany is ready to administer jabs to children and teenagers, who will be able to get their first dose by the end of August.

Mr Spahn said: “Whoever is not vaccinated this fall and winter will very likely get infected.

“If Germany and Europe want to get out of this pandemic, we need a high rate of vaccination.”

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The French authorities have raised the alarm over the Delta variant in the last fortnight.

Health minister Olivier Veran has warned the country could be in the midst of a fourth wave of infections by the end of the month if it is not careful.

The warning led to more people seeking a vaccination but the rate has once again dropped off in recent weeks.

Paris is pondering whether to make the jab mandatory for healthcare workers.

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France has traditionally been a highly sceptical nation when it comes to administering vaccines.

Italy’s Covid response chief Franceso Paolo Figliuolo this week said that the country needed to ramp up its efforts to encourage people in their 50s to get vaccinated.

Portugal has also been trying to speed up its vaccination drive after reporting a jump in Covid cases last month.

Prime minister Antonio Costa said: “We have a fight against time, between the capacity of the virus to differentiate itself and our capacity to vaccinate.”

Authorities in the Austrian capital Vienna are offering special walk-in services aimed at encouraging younger people to get the jab.

They have also decided to target live music events in the hope of convincing younger generations.

The number of first vaccine doses administered each week across the nation has slumped to less than half the peak pace in May.

The new infection rate in Greece has soared to its highest in more than a month, with the country also experiencing a slip in the number of daily jabs delivered.

Athens has offered a prepaid card worth £128 to young adults in the hope that they will come out and get their first dose.

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