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VACCINE

Majority of Germans could receive Covid-19 vaccine by autumn 2021, says health minister

German Health Minister Jens Spahn predicted that 60 percent of people in Germany could be vaccinated against coronavirus by the end of summer 2021.

Majority of Germans could receive Covid-19 vaccine by autumn 2021, says health minister
Jens Spahn (CDU) visiting a coronavirus vaccination centre in Nuremberg on December 10th. Photo: DPA

Based on the situation today, it’s likely that such a high dose would be ready and available by this point, he said on Monday evening to public broadcaster ZDF's “heute journal.”

According to experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), a vaccination coverage rate of 60 to 70 percent of the population is necessary to effectively combat the pandemic.

“Our goal is that there will be an approval before Christmas and that we can then start vaccinating this year, also here in Germany,” said Spain from the Christian Democrats (CDU).

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) would make the final decision for approval. The Mainz-based pharmaceutical company BioNtech and its US partner Pfizer had applied to the EMA for approval of the coronavirus, and are expected to hear back by December 29th.

According to a report, however, Germany is pushing for emergency approval by December 23rd. 

READ ALSO: Germany 'pressuring EU to speed up vaccine approval'

The fact that the vaccine co-developed in Germany can already be used in the US, Canada and the UK, but not yet in Germany, has been met with criticism. 

“It cannot be that a vaccine developed in Germany can only be licensed and used in January,” said Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, the health policy spokesperson of the Free Democrats (FDP) in the Bundestag.

“I wonder if we really need until December 29th to get approval for the vaccine in Europe. Europe should also try to create an emergency approval before then,” German Hospital Association (DKG) President Gerald Gaß told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Tuesday morning. 

“Then we could go to the nursing homes with mobile teams before Christmas and vaccinate the residents there.”

READ ALSO: Who will receive the first coronavirus vaccine jabs in Germany – and when?

A woman checks into a trial coronavirus test centre set up in Mainz. Photo: DPA

Spahn against emergency authorisation

Spahn has repeatedly spoken out against an emergency authorisation for Germany. From the very beginning, the country has been in favour of a proper authorisation at the European level, the CDU politician told ZDF. 

“That is important for confidence from my point of view.” He said he was surprised at some very national tones from countries wanting first approval of the vaccine. 

“But yes, it (vaccination) should come quickly,” he added.

According to Spahn, 12 to 13 million vaccine doses can be expected for the first quarter. If there was an additional approval from Astra Zeneca or Johnson & Johnson in this first quarter, “we would also have additional vaccine doses available”, he added. “That is quite realistic, but it is also not yet certain.”

Germany has already set up several vaccination centres around the country, and is preparing to give the most vulnerable groups, including health care workers and care home residents, the first doses of the vaccine

There are high hopes for the vaccine amid a high number of new coronavirus infections around Germany.

There were 14,432 new cases and 500 deaths within one day, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Tuesday morning. 

On Tuesday of the previous week, 14,054 new infections and 423 deaths had been reported. Highs of 29,875 reported cases and 598 deaths were logged on Friday. 

Tuesday's 500 deaths represent the third highest number since the pandemic began.

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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