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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

EU's von der Leyen tells worried Europeans: 'I'd take AstraZeneca vaccine'

Politicians and officials look for ways to convince skittish Europeans to have Covid-19 vaccination

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. EPA
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. EPA

The EU's most senior administrator said she would happily take AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine, as officials tried to find ways of ensuring doses refused by Germans were not wasted.

The comments by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, came amid growing concerns that unfavourable comments by top European officials including French President Emmanuel Macron had slowed the acceptance of one of three vaccines approved EU-wide.

This month, Mr Macron said Britain had taken a risk in authorising AstraZeneca's vaccine so quickly.

A German official study also found evidence that, although effective, the vaccine has more severe side effects than its two main rivals.

"I would take the AstraZeneca vaccine without a second thought, just like Moderna's and BioNTech-Pfizer's products," Ms von der Leyen told the Augsburger Allgemeine.

The endorsement came a month after the European Commission and AstraZeneca were at odds over suggestions that the British-Swedish company had given priority to Britain over the EU in delivering the vaccine.

AstraZeneca denied the claims.

The Commission has been criticised over the slow pace of vaccination across the 27-member bloc,.

Critics say it failed to secure enough early supply of the vaccines that leaders are banking on to bring an end to the pandemic, which has devastated the continent's economy.

In Germany, where a widespread preference for the German-designed BioNTech vaccine has led to a growing number of unused AstraZeneca doses, officials and politicians suggested ways of making sure they did not go to waste.

Berlin's Social Affairs Senator Elke Breitenbach said unused doses should be given to the 3,000 homeless people living in the city's emergency accommodation.

"We shouldn't forget those who don't have a loud lobby behind them," Ms Breitenbach told Funke Media Group.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer earlier said unused vaccines should go to the police.

Updated: February 24, 2021 04:10 AM

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