Covid-19 vaccination center inside France’s national velodrome in the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines district of Paris on March 24.

Europes stumbling efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic look to be yielding results at last.


doubled the number of daily Covid-19 vaccinations, France hit a key

immunization milestone a week ahead of schedule, and Italy is set to

ease lockdown restrictions as contagion rates slow.

After becoming an epicenter of a renewed surge in the pandemic, there are tentative signs that Western Europe is turning the corner. Stocks in the region hit a record high twice this week, as accelerating vaccinations boosted expectations of a rapid economic recovery. The STOXX Europe 600 Index was on course for another historic high on Friday.

The bright spot is that the vaccination program is accelerating in the euro area, Ruben Segura-Cayuela, a Merrill Lynch economist, said in a note to clients. Even recent uncertainty over the safety of

AstraZeneca Plcs shot isnt undermining targets to inoculate 70% of the regions population by the end of the summer, he added.

Travel and leisure stocks also hit a record high this week, as markets expect that this years tourist season wont be entirely lost to Covid.

Fueling the optimism, Germany said it will be able to comprehensively vaccinate its population by mid summer. As supplies ramp up, Europes largest economy could administer 3.5 million doses a week, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Read more: Germany Doubles Pace of Covid-19 Shots Amid Surge in Cases

Investors have priced in that once the blocs economies reopen, consumers will spend savings accumulated during months in lockdown, buoying consumption-led growth, while governments keep their purse strings loose and central banks tolerate higher prices.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier fed those expectations on Friday by calling for more aid to pandemic-hit businesses, including a program to help restaurants, clubs and hotels restart after lockdowns unwind.

Its encouraging that the number of immunizations is increasing and the risks are bottoming out, he said in Berlin.

Shot Surge

Germany’s Covid-19 vaccinations have jumped after a slow start

Source: Robert Koch Institute, German Health Ministry

Even a spat with the U.K. over exports of AstraZeneca shots — which the EU threatened to restrict — seems to be dying down.

The bloc will receive all doses produced at the drugmakers plant in the Netherlands over the coming months, Thierry Breton, the EUs vaccine chief, said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

The comments point to a tacit agreement between the sides. To avoid a renewed showdown, AstraZeneca would temporarily refrain from requesting to export to the U.K. from its Dutch facility, and the U.K. wouldnt make a fuss as long as other shots — such as those from

Pfizer Inc. — continued to flow, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The two sides are in talks to try and reach on agreement on sharing doses from that plant, but those negotiations havent yet led to a breakthrough, the people said. AstraZeneca declined to comment.

To be sure, not everything is smooth sailing. Earlier this week, the European Union

failed to form a common position on AstraZenecas shot amid links to a rare type of blood clotting, and Eastern Europe continues to struggle with vaccinations.

In Germany, a planned meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders on Monday was canceled because of little prospect of a deal over the next steps to fight the pandemic.

After weeks of political bickering over stricter curbs, Merkel is pushing for greater control and secured a deal with Germanys 16 states over legislation that will give the federal government greater ability to impose restrictions to tamp down local outbreaks.

Spahn warned Germans that there will still be several difficult months ahead and urged the pandemic-weary public to hold tight a little while longer.

Yes, Im suffering exactly like everyone else, he said. I want to get out, too. I want the daily routine, too. And I want to celebrate, and I want meals out and shopping.

With assistance by Viktoria Dendrinou, John Follain, Geraldine Amiel, Arne Delfs, and Tim Loh

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