Joachim Sauer, husband of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this Tuesday accused unvaccinated Germans of “laziness” as the country struggles to contain a dramatic increase in the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections.
The worsening pandemic in Germany was partly to blame for the relatively low vaccination rate compared to other Western European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, with only 68% of the population fully vaccinated against covid-19.
“It is surprising that a third of the population does not follow scientific discoveries”, lamented Joachim Sauer in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and published by the German daily Die Welt.
“In part, this is due to a certain laziness and complacency of the Germans,” said Sauer, who rarely speaks in public.
“The other group are people who follow a personal conviction, a kind of ideological reaction to what they consider to be a vaccination dictatorship,” said Sauer, including doctors and scientists in this group.
Like his wife, Sauer is a quantum chemist and went to Italy to receive his diploma as a foreign member of the Turin Academy of Sciences.
The couple remain discreet and Sauer rarely speaks to the media. One of the few occasions they are photographed together is during their annual visit to the Bayreuth Opera Festival.
Sauer added that the Germans’ hesitation about vaccination was even more regrettable given the “miracle” of how quickly vaccines, which are considered safe and effective, were developed during the pandemic.
The German chancellor, who is about to step down and is expected to succeed Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, has repeatedly called on Germans to get the covid-19 vaccine.
The slow pace of the country’s vaccination process and the rapid occupation of intensive care beds have sparked an intense debate over whether Germany should follow Austria’s example and make administration of the covid-19 vaccine mandatory.
Situation is “dramatic”, says German Health Minister
Merkel’s government has always ruled out that possibility, but several politicians, including Bavarian state prime minister Markus Soeder, have called for mandatory vaccinations in recent days.
The latest data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) indicates that the seven-day incidence rate rose this Tuesday to 399.8 cases per 100,000 population, a new record.
In view of the worsening of the pandemic in the country, the German Health Minister defends more restrictions to contain a “dramatic” increase in the number of covid-19 cases. Jens Spahn did not rule out confinements, although he clarified that the measure will have to be decided at a regional level.
“The situation is not only serious, in some regions of Germany it is dramatic,” said Spahn in an interview on German radio. “We are transferring patients because the intensive care units are full and it doesn’t just affect the covid-19 patients,” he added.