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Germany announces €750 million fund for coronavirus vaccine research

Germany will set up a €750-million project to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, the country’s Research Minister announced on Monday.

Germany announces €750 million fund for coronavirus vaccine research
Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek speaking in front of a socially-distanced press box. Image: DPA

The program will have two separate pillars: to expand the study capacities with regard to discovering the virus, as well as expanding production capacities so that it can eventually be produced.

“As soon as a vaccine is found and approved, production must start quickly,” Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) said on Monday, as reported the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). 

“A vaccine is a key to returning to normal.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in Germany: Which measures are changing this week?

Karliczek said that while the funding package is significant, she does not expect a vaccine to be available until mid-2021 at the earliest.

“We cannot expect miracles. It is important to be realistic.”

 

The program has been designed to secure a result faster than usual, by allowing studies with a larger number of subjects.

The Minister indicated in a press conference on Monday that the department will develop a set of funding guidelines through which researchers can apply for the funds.

Recognising the need to complement rather than compete with international vaccine efforts, Karliczek said approximately a third of the funding will go to Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the international vaccine allance organisation.

The “special and unique program” is the largest of its kind in German history undertaken by the Federal Ministry.

Vocabulary

The vaccine: (der) Impfstoff

The Federal Research Minister (female): die Bundesforschungsministerin

The researchers: (die) Forscher 

Risk groups: (die) Risikogruppen

 

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

The Covid pandemic is continuing to cause problems around Germany, with concerns that the number of patients needing treatment will rise in the coming weeks.

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

In its weekly Covid report, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said that confirmed infections appeared to be rising in some German states, and falling in others.

But experts warned that the situation remained tense, with many infections not reported. 

Therefore, in the coming weeks, “hospitalisations, an increase in intensive care treatment and deaths are to be expected, especially among the elderly”, said the RKI.

People over the age of 80 “continue to be most affected by severe courses of the disease”, the experts said in their report. 

The incidence of infections is continuing to rise for this age group, and the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in medical treatment facilities as well as in old people’s and nursing homes is going up.

READ ALSO: Which Covid rules are likely to return to Germany in autumn?

The number of patients with Covid-19 being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) is also rising slightly. In the previous week, the number was reported to be around 1,330. And on Thursday July 28th, 1,550 people were in ICUs in Germany with 484 receiving ventilation treatment, according to the DIVI intensive care register. 

The number of deaths in connection with the virus is currently around just over 400 per week. The RKI says this trend is a plateau.

When it comes to the overall picture of Covid in Germany, the RKI said there was a “sideways movement rather than a decreasing trend”.

Last week, the nationwide 7-day incidence decreased slightly compared to the previous week. The overall picture shows falling incidences in most western German states and Berlin, with incidences still rising slightly in the other eastern German states and Bavaria.

The RKI estimates there’s been a total of 800,000 to 1.5 million people with Covid (who also have symptoms) in the past week alone in Germany.

Last week experts warned that they expected the Covid situation to get worse in the coming weeks as many schools in Germany return after the summer break.

READ ALSO: Germany’s summer Covid wave set to get worse

The Omicron sub-variant BA.5, which has dominated in Germany since mid-June, has almost completely displaced other variants. It accounts for 89 percent of samples in the past week, the RKI said.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned people against underestimating getting Covid again.

The SPD politician pointed out that it was very easy to become infected with BA.5 – even for those who were infected with a previous type.

He warned that many could become seriously ill or die, plus there’s the risk of picking up Long Covid.

“Therefore, we have to solve the problem not by constant infection, but by better vaccines,” Lauterbach said.

‘Call things as they are’

Lauterbach, meanwhile, defended himself against his choice of words when describing the possibility of a new dangerous Covid variant emerging in autumn. 

In an interview with Bild newspaper in April he said: “It is quite possible that we will get a highly contagious Omicron variant that is as deadly as Delta – that would be an absolute killer variant.”

He was slammed for his dramatic choice of words. 

This week Lauterbach said: “I use few vocabulary that is apocalyptic. But sometimes you have to call things as they are.”

If there were a virus that linked the contagion of the BA.5 variant with the severe course of a Delta variant, “that would be a killer variant”, he maintained.

But he stressed that he had “not said that such a variant is definitely coming, but that we have to be prepared for such a variant”.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister calls on under 60s to get next Covid jab

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