- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
German big business has offered to step in and salvage the country’s ailing coronavirus vaccination roll-out — for free.
With Germany lagging far behind the UK and US, some of its biggest companies including Deutsche Bank, Allianz, Adidas and Siemens are set to offer their services at talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
They say they could help accelerate the roll-out and clear a backlog that has left Germany unable to use 3.4 million jabs that remain sitting in storage.
They have proposed putting Germany’s 12,000 company doctors to work and say their empty office buildings could be used as vaccination centres.
Mrs Merkel’s government is said to be reluctant to accept their help over fears company employees would be able to jump the queue ahead of priority groups, but businesses say they would stick to the government's priority categories.
Companies including sportswear brand Adidas, manufacturing giant Siemens and insurance company Allianz are offering to give the jab to their employees — and in some cases to their immediate family members.
“We want to make our contribution. That’s why we brought this idea to politicians weeks ago,” said Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, Germany’s largest media group.
“Our company doctors could vaccinate both our employees and, in the future, their family members, in accordance with the official vaccination schedule.”
Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest bank, said it was even prepared to help vaccinate the general population.
“Like other companies, Deutsche Bank wants to do its part to solve the vaccination backlog in Germany and to use excess vaccine soon,” Christian Sewing, the chief executive of Deustche Bank, told Welt newspaper.
“Germany should achieve herd immunity as soon as possible. So we are ready in principle to vaccinate people even if they do not work for us.”
Germany has been struggling with its vaccine roll-out. Only 5.4 per cent of Germans have received their first jab so far, compared to 30.9 per cent in the UK.
Despite initially pinning the blame on the EU’s vaccine order shambles, Germany is struggling to use the stocks it has, and more than a third of its 10.4 million jabs remain in storage.
While some of the backlog is down to public reluctance to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, Germany’s vaccination programme is also mired in bureaucracy and inefficiency.
In several regions it is not digitised and people are forced to wait hours on a telephone hotline to get an appointment. There are reports of people in their nineties still unable to get vaccination appointments even though the roll-out has officially moved on to the over-70s.
German businesses argue they could help alleviate the pressure on the system.
“We are already doing it with flu vaccination,” Kasper Rorsted, the chief executive of Adidas, told Welt. “We can also imagine helping other companies to vaccinte their employees, provided that this is logistically feasible."
“We said at the beginning of the year that if there was sufficient availability we would buy vaccines for our employees and administer them, though what we do can only complement the work of the government,” said Frank Appel, chief executive of Deustche Post.