Luis de Guindos, vice-president of the European Central Bank, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating ahead of Thursday’s crucial monetary policy meeting to decide how many bonds it will buy next year.
The ECB announced on Sunday evening that de Guindos had tested positive for the virus despite being double-vaccinated, adding that he “has not been in contact” with the central bank’s president, Christine Lagarde ,“in the past week”.
Usually de Guindos appears alongside Lagarde to broadcast their press conference after the ECB governing council’s policy meetings. The ECB said he would work from home “until further notice, and there will be no impact on this week’s monetary policy meeting”.
The Frankfurt-based bank said de Guindos’s symptoms were “very mild” and he was informing everyone with whom he has recently been in close contact.
It had already been decided that this week’s meeting of the council would be in an entirely virtual format, after coronavirus infections in Germany rose to record levels in recent weeks. ECB staff have been told to work from home if possible until March.
On Thursday, Lagarde is expected to start rolling back the ECB’s massive stimulus package by announcing that the €1.85tn bond-buying scheme it launched in response to the pandemic will stop net purchases in March.
Many western central banks, including the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, have said they are winding up their bond-buying in response to surging inflation. But the ECB is expected to expand and continue an older asset purchase programme at least until the end of next year.