German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the European Union to remain wary of the coronavirus in the face of an aggressive delta variant that was first detected in India and is becoming dominant in Western nations.
Ms. Merkel noted the success of COVID-19 vaccine campaigns in knocking down infections but said a victory lap would be premature.
“Even we in Europe and in Germany are still skating on thin ice. We must remain watchful. New variants, in particular, notably the delta variant, mean we must be cautious,” she said in formal remarks before a summit with EU leaders.
It could be her last formal address to Parliament as she prepares to step down this year after 16 years at the helm.
The delta variant could account for 90% of cases in the EU by August, disease trackers say. Right now, it accounts for about 15% of cases in Germany.
Ms. Merkel said the EU should develop a unified strategy for handling people who arrive from countries, such as the United Kingdom, where the delta variant is dominant.
For instance, Germany will play England in the U.K. in the European soccer championship on Tuesday, though fans coming back from British shores must quarantine.
Wealthier nations got a head start on the vaccination campaign, but the U.S., Europe and others are trying to help the rest of the world get vaccinated before the virus can mutate into forms that pierce the shots’ protective wall.
Ms. Merkel said increased licensing is the best way to spur production, rather than an idea backed by President Biden that would waive intellectual property rights for the ground-breaking vaccines.
“I consider a politically obtained release of patents to be the wrong way to go,” she said.