BERLIN (AP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted significant shortcomings in her country when she told the World Economic Forum on Tuesday they had underlined the need for international cooperation on issues such as vaccines.
Germany has had a relatively successful first phase of the pandemic, but infections spike during the winter months and recently crossed the 50,000 death threshold, Europe’s fifth-highest death toll. A second prolonged lockdown has slowly decreased the number of new cases in recent weeks.
In Germany, “the speed with which we act leaves a lot to be desired,” Merkel said in a speech at the forum, which is being held virtually rather than at her usual venue in Davos, Switzerland. “The process often gets very bureaucratic and takes a long time, so we have to work on it.”
Germany’s solid public finances have allowed it to provide sizeable support to the economy in a pandemic and years of investment in research have paid off, Merkel said.
But “where we didn’t look good, and what is still visible today, is the lack of digitization in our society – which starts with the linkages between the health services, seen in the digitalization of our administration and the digitization of our education. systems, when we talk about distance teaching and distance learning. “
That problem will be handled by Germany’s stimulus efforts, Merkel said. He added that “we have a very good individual health system, but in terms of community health, community and prevention, we don’t have sufficient resilience yet.”
Looking beyond Germany, Merkel said she now feels even more justified in her old calls for a cooperative approach to world affairs.
“For me, it is even clearer than ever … that we have to choose a multilateral approach, that the isolation approach will not help us solve the problem,” he said. That attitude has often landed him at odds with the US under former President Donald Trump.
Merkel pointed to the importance of a “multilateral approach to vaccination,” embodied in the COVAX facility, an effort to get affordable injections to poor and middle-income countries. “It’s about fair distribution, and it’s not just a question of money,” he said.
“Multilateralism doesn’t just mean that we cooperate in any way, but we cooperate in a transparent manner,” he said.
There was not enough transparency when the pandemic began regarding its outbreak in China, and lessons need to be learned, he added, welcoming the arrival of a World Health Organization delegation in China.
The Biden administration’s decision to recommit to the WHO after Trump’s decision to leave the UN health agency is “a good and important signal,” Merkel said.
He also called for the “bottlenecks” in recent years at the World Trade Organization to be resolved, calling the Geneva-based body a “core component of the world’s rules-based trade.”
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