Joachim Sauer chose to break his silence amid growing calls for vaccination to be made compulsory. Around 68 per cent of Germans are fully vaccinated
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Nick Squires and Justin Huggler
Nov 23, 2021 • 17 minutes ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Angela Merkel’s husband blamed German “laziness and irrationality” for the low coronavirus vaccination rate as calls grow for compulsory inoculations.
“I’m disturbed that a third of the German population – I’m speaking about my own people – are not open to the successes achieved by science,” Prof. Joachim Sauer told Italy’s La Stampa.
“A small proportion of them are lazy, indolent, too comfortable. Then there are those who refuse to do it out of ideology, for irrational reasons.”
It was a rare political intervention from Sauer, a high-profile scientist who has given almost no interviews during Merkel’s 15 years in power.
He chose to break his silence amid growing calls for vaccination to be made compulsory. The proportion of Germans who are fully vaccinated is around 68 per cent.
But it is lower than many European countries and concern is rising in Germany at the growing infection rate.
Sauer compared German reluctance to take the COVID shot to the “irrationality” of Americans who believe in Creationism, adding he was “shocked” that among the deniers were “academics, doctors and scientific researchers.”
“The fact that a vaccine was created in such a short time is really a miracle. And yet it has not helped to build faith (in science). This is deplorable,” he said.
Sauer, a quantum chemist, was speaking in Turin where he was made a member of the Academy of Sciences. He has refused to play the political spouse throughout Merkel’s time in office.
He didn’t even turn up when she was first sworn in as Chancellor, watching on television from his university.
Nor was he there when the Queen met Merkel during her 2015 visit to Berlin. When British journalists asked where he was, aides said “at work.”
When a German television team tried to doorstep him on the red carpet at the Bayreuth opera festival, he glared at the camera and said: “I’m not going to say anything for your microphone.”
By all accounts he and Merkel are happily married: she has said she likes to relax by cooking him his favourite dishes and they live together in a private Berlin flat with his name on the doorbell.
His decision to speak out now may have something to do with the fact she is set to step down as Chancellor in two weeks.
His statements came as two of Germany’s most influential regional leaders called for vaccination to be made compulsory, and an opinion poll found 70 per cent of Germans support that.