ANGELA Merkel will have the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine tomorrow in a bid to rebuild Europeans’ battered confidence in the jab.
The German chancellor will receive the Oxford-made shot after continental dithering and flip-flopping over its safety undermined trust.
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Berlin’s medicines regulator was heavily criticised for its initial decision to prevent the use of the dose in over-65s.
That meant Mrs Merkel, 66, was ineligible to have it.
Germany was one of a number of countries that banned the vaccine for pensioners saying there wasn’t enough evidence that it worked.
German officials even wrongly briefed out that the jab was 8% effective in the elderly – claims which were quickly debunked.
They quickly changed their tune when real world data from the successful rollout in Britain showed the huge impact it had on cutting cases and deaths.
But by then the damage was done, with polls in Germany and other EU countries showing the AZ jab is significantly less trusted than other vaccines.
Senior politicians in Berlin and European capitals are now trying to rebuild confidence in the shot.
Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, 65, made a public showing of getting the vaccine at a centre in Berlin at the beginning of this month.
He said: “I trust the vaccines approved in Germany. Today I received my first vaccination with AstraZeneca.
“Vaccination is the crucial step on the way out of the pandemic. Take advantage of the opportunities. Take part!”
Doctor Karl Lauterbach, a senior MP who leads for the Socialist party on health, also had the Oxford jab a week later.
He said afterwards: “Unfortunately, AstraZeneca vaccine hit the headlines again today.
“The truth is it is a highly effective vaccine, serious side effects are very rare.”
Germany and a number of other European nations, including Britain, have since restricted the AZ shot in younger people over blood clot fears.
And yesterday Denmark became the first country in the EU to permanently suspend its use.
But amid splits in the bloc that decision was slammed by Belgium’s top virologist Marc Van Ranst as “hysterical”.
He fumed: “You save a lot of people with it, and if you know it saves more people than it harms people, then this is clearly an emotional decision.”
Ireland today announced people who turn down the AZ vaccine will be sent to the back of the queue and forced to wait until everyone else has been jabbed.
Foreign minister Simon Coveney said: “The message needs to be very clear. AstraZeneca is safe.
“And it’s particularly safe for people over the age of 60, in the context of the threats they face from Covid.
“People should trust the system because the decisions are being made by public health experts, not by politicians, when it comes to who gets what, and when.”
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen today received her first dose of the Pfizer jab under Belgium’s vaccine rollout.
She tweeted: “After we passed 100 million vaccinations in the EU, I’m very glad I got my first shot of a COVID 19 vaccine today.
“Vaccinations will further gather pace, as deliveries are accelerating in the EU. The swifter we vaccinate, the sooner we can control the pandemic.”
The EU hopes to vaccinate 70% of its adult population by September 21, but is facing difficulties with supplies.
It’s facing a major shortfall because Johnson and Johnson is delaying deliveries over potential links between its jab and rare blood clots.
Pfizer has agreed to deliver 50m extra doses to the bloc this quarter, but analysts have warned Europe’s rollout could be put back by two months.