ANGELA Merkel has admitted a “mistake” as she reversed a planned strict Easter shutdown as the EU’s vaccine chaos rolls on.

Her u-turn comes as Brussels is threatening to block vaccine exports to the UK , while continent is engulfed in a third Covid wave.

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Merkel wanted to impose an almost complete shutdown over the Easter holiday, in response to the third wave of coronavirus infections.

She also wanted to extend Germany’s lockdown, meaning restrictions would in place until April 18.

But Merkel said she was reversing the decision, saying it had been a mistake because it was not practical.

“This mistake is my mistake alone," she said.

"The idea of an Easter shutdown was created with the best of intentions.

“At the same time, of course I know that this whole matter triggers more uncertainty I regret that deeply and I apologise to all citizens.”

Her dramatic u-turn comes as millions of AstraZeneca vaccines are sitting unused across Europe as the EU tries to block exports of the jab to the UK.

The EU's shambolic jab rollout, combined with a sharp rise in infections, has seen large swathes of the continent plunged back into lockdown in the past week.

Several European countries suspended the use of AstraZeneca amid unfounded claims it was linked to blot clots before reversing the decision, a move that has undermined public confidence in the jab.

According European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures there are currently around 5.5 million unused doses of the jab sitting in warehouses.

Germany has received 3.4 million doses of the vaccine but has administered 1.9 million, while France has taken delivery of 2.8 million but only around 1.5 million.

Despite the stockpiles, the European Commission has beefed up its export ban prevent what it sees as an unfair one-way flow of vaccines.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, backed by leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel, has demanded "reciprocity" in vaccine exports and warned that AstraZeneca could face an export ban.

The EU has had export ban powers in place since late January, but up until now it could only hit companies failing to fulfil their contracts with the bloc.

Ministers have privately warned the UK would have “no choice” but to block vaccine ingredient exports to the continent if the EU triggers a full blown jab ban.

One senior member of the government told The Sun “politically and morally it's a no brainer” adding that “the British public would not put up” with anything else.

The threat of a vaccine war comes as one expert warned Europe's Covid crisis will last until next year in a massive blow for summer holidays.

Jeffrey Lazarus, an associate professor at the University of Barcelona, predicted that Covid cases will continue to be high on the continent in 2021.

"At the heart of it is vaccinating faster, we need to vaccinate faster we need to manufacturer the vaccines faster and we need to move beyond the rows between the EU and UK.

"Where we try and secure vaccines from another country, we all need to be working together to fight the virus."

Holidays abroad from Britain will be banned until July, with the risk of a £5,000 fine for anyone trying to leave the country.

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