Europe’s hesitant efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic finally appear to be paying off.
Germany has doubled the number of daily vaccinations against Covid-19, France has hit a key vaccination milestone a week ahead of schedule, and Italy is ready to ease lockdown restrictions as contagion rates slow .
After becoming the epicenter of a new wave of the pandemic, there are signs that Western Europe is turning the corner. Stocks in the region hit a record high twice this week, as accelerating vaccinations raised expectations of a rapid economic recovery. The STOXX Europe 600 Index was on track for another all-time high on Friday.
“The good news is that the vaccination program is accelerating in the euro area,” Ruben Segura-Cayuela, economist at Merrill Lynch, said in a note to clients. Even recent uncertainty over the safety of AstraZeneca Plc’s firing does not undermine targets to inoculate 70% of the region’s population by the end of the summer, he added.
Travel and leisure values also hit an all-time high this week, as markets expect this year’s tourist season not to be entirely lost on Covid.
Fueling optimism, Germany said it would be able to fully immunize its population by mid-summer. As supplies increase, Europe’s largest economy could administer 3.5 million doses per week, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.
Read more: Germany doubles the pace of Covid-19 shots in the middle of a power surge in cases
Investors have figured out that once the bloc’s economies reopen, consumers will spend their savings accumulated over months in lockdown, spurring consumer-led growth, while governments will keep their purse strings loose and central banks. will tolerate higher prices.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier fueled those expectations on Friday by calling for additional help for businesses affected by the pandemic, including a program to help restaurants, clubs and hotels restart after lockdowns end.
“It is encouraging to see that the number of vaccinations is increasing and the risks are reaching their maximum,” he said in Berlin.
Even a row with the UK over exports of AstraZeneca gunshots – which the EU has threatened to curtail – appears to be on the way out.
The block will receive all doses produced at the drugmaker’s plant in the Netherlands over the next few months, EU vaccine chief Thierry Breton said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
The comments indicate a tacit agreement between the parties. To avoid a new confrontation, AstraZeneca would temporarily refrain from applying to export to the UK from its Dutch facility, and the UK would not make a fuss until further shootings – such as those from Pfizer Inc. – continued to sink, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The two sides are in talks to try to come to an agreement on how to share the doses of this plant, but these negotiations have not yet resulted in a breakthrough, the people said. AstraZeneca declined to comment.To be sure, not everything is smooth. Earlier this week, the European Union failed to form a common position on the AstraZeneca shot due to links to a rare type of blood clotting, and Eastern Europe continues to struggle with it. vaccinations.
In Germany, a meeting scheduled for Monday between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders has been called off due to little prospect of an agreement on next steps in the fight against the pandemic.
After weeks of political wrangling over tighter restrictions, Merkel is pushing for greater control and has reached a deal with Germany’s 16 states on legislation that will give the federal government greater ability to impose restrictions to mitigate outbreaks local.
Spahn warned the Germans that there would still be several difficult months ahead and urged the pandemic-weary public to stand firm for a bit.
“Yes, I suffer just like everyone else,” he said. “I also want to go out. I also want the daily routine. And I want to celebrate, and I want to eat out and go shopping. “
– With the help of Viktoria Dendrinou, John Follain, Geraldine Amiel, Arne Delfs and Tim Loh