Merkel faults German 'perfectionism' for current virus woes

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File - In this Wednesday, March 24, 2021 file photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from lawmakers at German parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has talked about her countrys difficulties, during the coronavirus pandemic. In a lengthy television interview late Sunday she called for greater flexibility to tackle the latest surge in cases. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has blamed her country's difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic — from the slow vaccine rollout to the back-and-forth over lockdown rules — partly on “a tendency toward perfectionism” and called for greater flexibility to tackle the latest surge in cases.

In an hour-long television interview with public broadcaster ARD late Sunday, Merkel acknowledged that mistakes were made by her government, including on plans for an Easter lockdown, which had to be reversed.

The long-time leader also expressed frustration over the actions of some of Germany's state governors, including members of her own party, who have resisted tougher restrictions they had previously agreed to.

But Merkel, who isn't running again in September's national election, said she stands by her pledge to offer every adult a vaccine by the end of the summer, and insisted Germany still compares well with most of its neighbors.

“Perhaps we're very perfectionist at times and want to do everything right, because obviously whoever makes a mistake always faces quite a lot of public criticism,” Merkel said.

“But there needs to be flexibility, too,” she added. “That, I believe, is an attribute that we as Germans perhaps need to learn a little bit more, alongside our tendency toward perfectionism.”

As an example, she cited the need for doctors and vaccine centers to have lists on hand of people who can receive shots left over at the end of the day. By Sunday, about 10.8 % of the population had received a first dose of vaccine in Germany, a far smaller share than in Britain, the United States and Israel.

Merkel said she expects a significant increase in supply and the start of vaccinations in general practitioner offices next month to boost the vaccine program going forward.