Merkel disputes deputy who says vaccinated are ‘guinea pigs’ for those not immunized | CBC News

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly rebuked a top rival politician’s comments describing people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as “guinea pigs.”

The long-serving leader said Tuesday in a speech before parliament that “none of us was and is any way a guinea pig when it comes to vaccination.”

Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose centre-left Social Democrats Party currently leads in the polls ahead of Germany’s Sept. 26 elections, recently said fully vaccinated people have been “the guinea pigs for those who so far have held off.”

He added that he was vaccinated and others should follow.

Merkel, however, did not appear to agree with her deputy’s messaging in her Tuesday speech.

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine in a so-called ‘Impfzug’ (vaccination train) in Gruenau near Berlin on Aug. 30. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)

The chancellor said that “neither Olaf Scholz nor me, and no one else” was a “guinea pig” in taking the fully tested and approved vaccines in Germany.

“We all agree that many more people must still be convinced to get vaccinated, but if we want to convince people that has to be done with arguments and not with, to put it mildly, slanted pictures of ‘guinea pigs,'” Merkel said.

Scholz shot back that people can be convinced with humour.

“If some people don’t want to laugh and get worked up about it, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they don’t have much to laugh about with a view to their poll ratings,” he said.

Merkel’s centre-right bloc is struggling in polls ahead of the nationwide elections.

–From The Associated Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET


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What’s happening around the world

As of Tuesday morning, more than 221.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.5 million.

In Asia, New Delhi’s premier Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is raising its oxygen storage capacity by 50 per cent, has laid a one-kilometre-long pipeline carrying the gas directly to COVID ICUs, and is installing equipment to keep the oxygen flow high, all in an effort to treat COVID-19 patients.

The medical director of the private hospital, Dr. Satendra Katoch, says the facility wants to “prepare for the worst,” as India prepares for its fall festival season and a possible third wave of COVID-19.

Workers weld near an oxygen storage tank at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi on Sept. 3. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

In the Americas, five federal courthouses in eastern Michigan will fully reopen Tuesday for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in March 2020.

Lawyers, news reporters, jurors and court spectators will be required to answer questions about their health and have their temperature checked. Masks will be required.

Courthouse employees who have not been vaccinated will be required to share the results of two weekly COVID-19 tests at their own expense. The main courthouse is in downtown Detroit, but there are other federal courthouses in Flint, Bay City, Ann Arbor and Port Huron.

In the Asia-Pacific region, France’s overseas territory of New Caledonia has reported its first three cases of confirmed COVID-19 infections.

The remote Pacific Ocean archipelago has, until now, been coronavirus-free. To date over 30 per cent of the New Caledonian population of around 270,000 have been vaccinated against the illness.

In Africa, Nigeria’s Delta region oil hub may need a new COVID-19 lockdown, Rivers State Gov. Nyesom Wike said in a speech on Monday.

The state capital Port Harcourt is the gateway to the oil-producing region. The state’s 10,809 total confirmed COVID-19 cases make it the third worst-hit state in Africa’s most-populous country, after Lagos and the federal capital territory of Abuja.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7 a.m. ET



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