Europe faces longer lockdowns amid botched vaccine rollout and jab scepticism while UK breaks free


SICKLY Europe will have to stay in lockdown while Britain breaks free – with EU leaders publicly turning on Brussels over its bungled vaccine rollout.

The bloc’s PMs and presidents will admit during a video call on Thursday that the pandemic there is too “serious” to start lifting restrictions.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel

And they will call for a ban on non-essential travel from outside the bloc to be extended, dealing a blow to Brits’ holiday hopes.

EU chiefs have been alarmed by stubbornly high infections across most of the continent while their botched vaccines drive stutters.

Their efforts are being blighted by low take up of the AstraZeneca jab after French and German politicians spread misinformation about its efficacy.

Amid growing anger Hungary’s PM ripped into Brussels saying it was a “bad decision” to put eurocrats in charge of buying doses.

Viktor Orban fumed: “Brussels is following its own logic. They don’t have a strong enough sense of the importance of speed.

“We’ve sought to do something together that we could have managed more successfully on an individual basis – take a look at Britain.”

Greece also voiced fears the dire situation in Europe is endangering plans to welcome back holidaymakers this summer.

Tourism minister Harry Theocharis said said the bloc needs to “move more quickly” on agreeing a common vaccine passport for visitors like Brits.

He fumed: “Looking at the reaction of some countries to vaccination certificate proposals, I feel there’s a lot of short-sightedness.”

French President Emmanuel Macron

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban

Eurocrats will come under fire on Thursday when EU leaders hold a video call on the “lessons learned” from their botched rollout.

Draft conclusions, seen by HOAR, state: “The epidemiological situation remains serious, and the new variants pose additional challenges.

“We must therefore uphold tight restrictions while stepping up efforts to accelerate the provision of vaccines.

“For the time being, non-essential travel needs to be restricted.”

In Germany ministers are planning to press ahead with a partial reopening of schools despite rising infections.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said the resurgence of the virus is “annoying the heck out of everybody”.

The country, which has a population of 83 million, has jabbed just five million people to date.

Overall the EU has only vaccinated 6% of its population, while the UK has reached 27%.

Brussels’ jabs drive is being blighted by low take up of the AZ jab, with widespread reports that Europeans are turning it down.

Emmanuel Macron claimed the dose is only “quasi-effective” for over-65s, while German officials briefed its efficacy in the elderly was just 8%.

Both claims have since turned out to be false, with real world data showing the jab offers high levels of protection for all age groups.

Berlin has now launched a publicity blitz to try and convince people the jab is safe, over fears it won’t be able to shift millions of doses.

Other senior figures, including Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen, have tried to discredit the UK’s vaccines programme to deflect criticism.


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