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BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday defended the European Union's joint Covid-19 vaccination rollout despite its troubled start.

"I fully support the European approach," Macron told an online news conference after talks with Merkel. "What would people say if countries like France and Germany were competing with each other on vaccines?"

"It would be a mess, and counter-productive," he said.

Merkel said that although the sluggish rollout had shown that the bloc needed to ramp up pharmaceutical production capacities, "the basic decision to order together as the European Union was and is right".

Anger in the 27-member bloc has grown in recent weeks over the slow pace of coronavirus inoculations compared with the speedier campaigns seen in the United States, Israel and ex-EU member Britain.

Merkel has taken to the airwaves several times this week to defend Germany's decision not to go it alone.

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