Olaf Scholz used his first New Year’s address as Chancellor to push for a 30m Covid-19 shooting shot at the end of January, as Germany set out to launch a high-profile Omicron coronavirus infection.
In his remarks, which were released to the media before the broadcast on Friday evening, Scholz urged Germans to accept their shots “immediately”.
“Speed is important now,” he said. “We need to move faster than this virus.”
He added that Germany had already handed over 30m jabs from mid-November, “probably more than any other EU country” and wanted to bring back the same numbers by the end of January.
He also appealed to millions of uncircumcised Germans to get a jab. Only 71 percent of Germans are vaccinated, which is much lower than in other European countries such as Spain and Portugal, and regulators are struggling to ensure that there is no vaccine-free vaccine.
Despite acknowledging that some people are concerned that they may suffer from the “adverse effects” of the vaccine, Scholz stressed that approximately 4bn people worldwide have been vaccinated – “without serious side effects”. “And the innumerable vaccineers have become parents of healthy children,” he added.
Scholz’s speech reflects Germany’s transformation. For the past 16 years, Germans have been spoken of in the New Year by Angela Merkel. But he retired after national elections in September, ushering in a new era of German politics.
The election was won narrowly by the Scholz of the Social Democrats, who formed an unprecedented three-way alliance with the Greens and liberals, and sent Merkel’s middle CDU / CSU to the right of the opposition benches for the third time in its history.
Scholz mentioned the change in his approach which is often reduced. “Today we are saying goodbye to a year that has brought a lot of change,” he said. “One small change is that today I am the one talking to you on New Year’s Eve as your Federal Chancellor.”
Scholz came to power with Germany’s bold plan to pollute the economy and promote social justice, but the plague has covered his first several weeks in office. Meanwhile, protests, often violent by anti-vaxxers and anti-coronavirus antidepressants, continue to haunt German cities.
And while there has never been a similar rise in Omicron disease cases seen in countries such as the UK and France, German numbers are rising. Statistics have shown that there were 41,240 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, compared with 35,431 last week.
But experts say a sharp drop in Christmas experiments means that actual numbers could only get worse.
Germany has imposed new sanctions against Omicron’s spread, setting limits on the number of people who can attend meetings. “Nowadays we will also have no big New Year’s Eve parties or fireworks,” Scholz said.
He reiterated his plan for Germany to achieve climate neutrality within 25 years, a goal that would include “the biggest changes our economy has seen in more than a century”.
He said the country would be free of coal, oil and gas and would “generate at least twice as much electricity from wind, solar energy and other renewable energy sources as we do today”.
Scholz also urged Germans to stop celebrating New Year’s Eve with their fireworks to stop the spread of Covid.
He said those who had not been vaccinated “were at risk of contracting the virus and suffering from chronic and life-threatening illnesses”.