German health expert says country ‘tilting’ towards mandatory Covid jabs

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People wait in line for a Covid vaccine below the Albrechtsburg castle in Meissen, Germany (AP)
People wait in line for a Covid vaccine below the Albrechtsburg castle in Meissen, Germany (AP)

Germany is “tilting” towards mandatory Covid vaccinations but is unlikely to close its borders with the UK, a leading health expert has said.

The country is suffering a surge in Covid infections and on Monday its health minister Jens Spahn warned by the end of this winter “pretty much everyone” in Germany “will have been vaccinated, recovered or died”.

On Tuesday Dr Hajo Zeeb, from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology, said the “stark warning” is what “we need at this point”.

Asked on Sky News how concerned he was about the situation, he said: “We are in trouble in some places and will be in trouble in more places over the next month.”

He said intensive care units are already full in some places, adding: “They are clearly warning this will get worse. They will have to select who can be treated and who can’t.”

Neighbouring Austria has already brought in a fresh lockdown and is bringing in compulsory jabs. On the issue of compulsory vaccinations, Dr Zeeb said: “The general opinion is tilting towards going towards mandatory vaccinations. It’s got its problems.”

But on closing Germany’s borders with the UK, he said it’s not “on the agenda” at the moment as the variants spread too quickly and it “really doesn’t do a lot”.

This week the World Health Organisation said it is “very worried” about the spread of Covid-19 in Europe as the continent battles a fresh wave of infections. Regional director Dr Hans Kluge warned that 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March unless urgent action is taken.

France’s prime minister, meanwhile, has tested positive for Covid-19, hours after returning from a visit to neighbouring Belgium.

Jean Castex will adapt his schedule for the coming 10 days to continue his activities in isolation, his office said.

While 75 per cent of France’s population is vaccinated, the number of virus infections has risen quickly in recent weeks.

Hospital admissions and deaths linked to the virus are also rising in France, though so far are well below the crisis levels of earlier surges.

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