Merkel said the federal and state governments are preparing for the vaccination programme, and that the first vaccine approvals in the EU could happen at the end of December.
With an eye on applications by BioNTech-Pfizer as well as Moderna for the use of their Covid-19 vaccines in Europe, Merkel said 70 million doses in total from both types of vaccines can be delivered in the first quarter of next year if they are given authorisation.
But that will not be enough for Germany's 83-million-strong population, she said, stressing that the country would need to “get through winter” without huge stocks of doses.
Berlin mayor Michael Müller said he hoped the government would provide concrete plans for a mass vaccination programme. He said regulations were still needed on how and which people will be invited for their vaccinations first.
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Müller said it was important for the programme to be the same throughout Germany, rather than there be differences between federal states.
Although Germany has said that vulnerable people (such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions) and key workers will be vaccinated first, no concrete plans have been released.
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Germany extends shutdown
A month into the new round of shutdowns in Germany, the number of new infections has plateaued over the past two weeks, with October's exponential growth brought to a halt.
But in order to ease restrictions, the infection rate would have to come down to below 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week – a level where officials can effectively carry out their trace and isolate strategy, Merkel has repeatedly said.
On Wednesday night Merkel announced that the shutdown would be effectively extended until January 10th.
On Thursday Germany recorded another 22,046 new infections and 479 deaths over the last 24 hours, according to the disease control agency RKI.