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Europe like ‘diesel engine’ in terms of vaccination, Macron says, amid growing frustration over pace of immunization campaign

Europe like ‘diesel engine’ in terms of vaccination, Macron says, amid growing frustration over pace of immunization campaign
French President Emmanuel Macron has admitted Europe wasn’t fast and ambitious enough in its coronavirus vaccine rollout, and promised to speed up the immunization campaign in France from April.

“We are catching up. We are a bit of a diesel engine ... it starts slowly but it goes far,” Macron told Greece’s ERT channel, adding that the EU had been slow to launch its vaccination program.

It’s quite true, and we thought that the vaccine would take time to take off. We probably looked to the stars less than some others.

Macron added that the Europeans “were wrong to lack ambition,” and were “perhaps too rational,” not recognizing the urgency of vaccination against Covid-19.

The French president previously pledged to speed up the vaccination campaign from April, saying that there should be “no weekends or days off” when it came to immunization. The promise came after the authorities introduced partial lockdowns in several French regions, including Paris.

Also on rt.com France targets AstraZeneca for ‘unacceptable’ failure to honor contracts with EU, as Covid-19 cases explode across the country

European leaders have grown increasingly frustrated with the pace of the ongoing vaccination campaigns amid the news of delays in delivery by AstraZeneca and Pfizer. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen apologized in February for the “mistakes” made during the vaccine procurement by Brussels.

Von der Leyen said Brussels was late to authorize the use of the vaccine, and “too optimistic when it came to massive production.”

Earlier this month, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the country could block the shipment of vaccines abroad if British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca failed to meet its delivery target for the EU. Von der Leyen also openly threatened to ban AstraZeneca from sending its vaccine outside of the EU if the company did not supply Europe with enough doses. Her comments sparked a row with Britain, with officials in London urging the EU not to put restraints on vaccine exports to the UK.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a plan for a five-day lockdown over Easter, and apologized for her government’s failure to avoid a new round of tighter Covid-19 restrictions. The decision came amid what national broadcaster Deutsche Welle called a “sluggish” immunization campaign. Similar Easter coronavirus restrictions were announced in neighboring Austria.

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