‘We have to be faster than the virus:’ Olaf Scholz urges Germans to get jabbed – POLITICO

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will use his New Year speech to urge people to get their coronavirus vaccine or booster shot without delay, so they are “armed” against the spread of the new Omicron variant.

“The benefits of vaccination are really huge. It is precisely the new virus variant that should now tip the scales in favor of getting vaccinated,” Scholz will say in his first New Year address to the nation, which will be televised on Friday evening, according to a transcript.

“This is the way out of this pandemic,” Scholz will say, calling on citizens to make a vaccine appointment “right away” or use the opportunity to get the shot without an appointment. This appeal is also directed toward those who have already been vaccinated but still need to get their booster shot, the chancellor will say.

Scholz will vow to administer an additional 30 million jabs across Germany until the end of January to be “armed” against the Omicron variant. “Speed is now of the essence. We have to be faster than the virus!” Scholz will say. “Let’s do everything together — but really everything — so that we can finally defeat corona in the new year.”

With only about 71 percent of the population fully vaccinated, Germany is lagging behind other EU countries such as Italy, Denmark, Spain and Portugal. Appealing to vaccine skeptics, Scholz will argue that almost four billion people around the world have already been vaccinated “without major side effects.”

Scholz’s speech won’t rule out that new restrictions might be necessary to fight off the Omicron variant, as he will promise to act “quickly and decisively” to end the pandemic. Referring to the most recent coronavirus restrictions in Germany, which as of this week limit private gatherings to 10 people, the chancellor will appeal to citizens to “please take these restrictions very seriously” in the coming weeks.

He will also thank those helping to fight the pandemic, such as doctors, nurses and the military, and argue that he does not agree with the complaint that German society has been “divided” by the pandemic: “I would like to say here with all clarity: the opposite is true! Our country stands together.”

Scholz will also use his speech to refer to the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) countries, which Germany assumes in the coming year. Scholz will say that he wants to use the presidency to make the G7 “a pioneer for a climate-neutral economy and a fair world.”

“In a world that will soon have 10 billion inhabitants, our voice will only be heard if we join forces with many others,” Scholz will say in reference to the G7 presidency. He will also stress his support for a strong and sovereign EU “that lives by its shared values of peace, the rule of law and democracy.”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.

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