SHARE
COPY LINK

VACCINE

Germany’s BioNTech racing to ramp up vaccine production

German firm BioNTech said Friday it was racing to ramp up production of its Covid-19 jab in Europe, to fill the 'gap' left by the lack of other approved vaccines.

Germany's BioNTech racing to ramp up vaccine production
Robert Michael / POOL / AFP

The vaccine developed by BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer was the first to be approved in the European Union in late December.

Countries including Britain, Canada and the United States okayed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier and have since also green-lighted jabs by US firm Moderna or Oxford/AstraZeneca, leaving the EU's inoculation drive lagging behind.

“The current situation is not rosy, there's a hole because there's an absence of other approved vaccines and we have to fill this gap with our vaccine,” BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin told Der Spiegel weekly.

Criticism of the slow pace of Europe's vaccine rollout has grown louder in recent days.

In Germany, where the focus has been on inoculating elderly people in care homes, senior doctors have complained that hospital staff are being left waiting for their jabs despite being in the priority groups.

Basket of suppliers

France has seen similar complaints, prompting the government to announce that health workers aged over 50 could get the shot from Monday – sooner than originally planned.

Part of the problem is that the EU placed a relatively low order of 300 million doses for its 27 member states, and the contract was only signed in November, later than other countries.

Fellow BioNTech founder Ozlem Tureci, who is also Sahin's wife, told Spiegel that the EU had assumed there would be “a basket of different suppliers” to choose from, given the global race to develop a pandemic-ending jab.

“Such an approach makes sense. But then at some point it became clear that many would be unable to deliver quickly.”

Sahin said BioNTech aimed to get a new manufacturing facility in the German city of Marburg up and running in February, “far earlier than planned”, that should then be able to churn out an additional 250 million doses in the first half of 2021.

Tureci said they had also struck deals with five pharmaceutical manufacturers in Europe to increase production, and negotiations with other specialised firms are ongoing.

“By the end of January we should have clarity on what and how much more we can produce,” Sahin said.

BioNTech and Pfizer were initially aiming to deliver 1.3 billion doses worldwide this year, enough to immunise 650 million people.

Member comments

  1. What is in the new vaccine? What is Mrna vaccine? Does it prevent you from contracting or spreading covid-19?
    Don’t allow the corporate controlled media to force you to make decisions out of fear. They are playing us all.
    Find alternative independant information sources. Challenge what the mainstream are all repeating in unison, as though they were controlled by the media magnates. There Is A Global Conspiracy.
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/UQvaQFdGLn8/

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules in place across German states

Many Covid restrictions have been dropped in Germany, but some rules remain in place. And as infections increase again, it's important to be aware of what you should do if you get Covid.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules in place across German states

Germany has relaxed or changed many Covid restrictions in recent months. However, with Covid infections rocketing again, people are reminding themselves of what rules remain in place, and what they have to do if they get a positive test.

Here’s a quick roundup of what you should know. 

Face masks

Covid masks have to be worn when travelling on public transport, including planes departing to and from Germany. 

They also have to be worn in places where there are more vulnerable people, such as care homes, hospitals and doctor offices. 

Masks are not mandatory anymore in shops (including supermarkets) and restaurants, but individual businesses can enforce the rule so watch out for signs on the door. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

FFP2 masks have become the standard in Germany, but in some cases other medical masks are sufficient.

There are no longer any entry rules to public venues such as the 3G or 2G rule, meaning that people had to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test. 

However, they could return in autumn if the infection protection laws are adapted, and if the Covid situation gets worse.

Mandatory isolation 

The rules on isolation differ from state to state, but there is one general requirement: those who test positive for Covid have to go into isolation at home and avoid all contact with people outside the household. The isolation period lasts at least five days or a maximum of 10 days.

If you get a positive result at home, you should go to a test centre and undergo a rapid antigen test. If it is positive, the quarantine obligation kicks in. If it is negative, you have to get a PCR test.

If you have Covid symptoms, you should contact your doctor, local health authorities or the non-emergency medical on-call service on 116 117. They can advise or whether you should get a PCR test. 

Across German states, the isolation period lasts 10 days, but – as we mentioned above – there are differences on how it can end earlier. 

In Berlin, for instance, it can be shortened from the fifth day with a negative test if you have been symptom free for 48 hours. If this isn’t the case, the isolation is extended until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours and tested negative. But you can leave without a negative test after 10 days. 

A positive Covid test.

A positive Covid test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Anyone who tests positive for Covid using a rapid test at a testing centre can have a free PCR test to confirm whether they have Covid-19. If the PCR test is negative, there is no obligation to go into quarantine.

In Bavaria, the isolation period is five days after the first positive test. For isolation to end on day five you must be symptom free for at least 48 hours. Otherwise, isolation is extended for 48 hours at a time until the maximum of 10 days. 

A test-to-release is not needed to end the isolation, unless the person works in a medical setting. 

READ ALSO: Germany sets out new Covid isolation rules

After isolation, Bavaria recommends that you wear an FFP2 mask in public places indoors and reduce contact for an extra five days. 

The state of Hesse has a similar system to Bavaria where a test is not needed to end the isolation early (unless the person works in a medical setting).

In North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg, residents can end their Covid isolation on the fifth day if they get a negative test (carried out at a testing centre). Otherwise the isolation period continues until the 10th day, or until they get a negative test.

Close contacts of people infected with Covid (including household contacts) no longer have to quarantine in Germany, but they are advised to get tested regularly and monitor for symptoms, as well as reduce contacts for five days. 

As ever, check with your local authority for the detailed rules.

Travel

Germany recently provisionally dropped almost all of its Covid travel restrictions, making it much easier to enter the country. 

The changes mean that entry into Germany is now allowed for all travel purposes, including tourism. The move makes travel easier – and cheaper – for people coming from non-EU countries, particularly families who may have needed multiple Covid tests for children. 

People also no longer have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test against Covid before coming to Germany – the so-called 3G rule. 

However, if a country is classed as a ‘virus variant’ region, tougher rules are brought in. 

It is likely that travel rules could be reinstated again after summer or if the Covid situation gets worse so keep an eye on any developments. 

READ ALSO: Germany drops Covid entry restrictions for non-EU travellers

Vaccine mandate

The mandate making Covid vaccinations compulsory for medical staff remains in place. A vaccine mandate that would have affected more of the population in Germany was rejected by the Bundestag in a vote in April

READ ALSO: Germany’s top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health care workers

Workplaces

Masks are no longer mandatory in workplaces, unless it is in a setting where more risks groups are, such as hospitals or care homes. 

The government no longer requires people to work from home, but employers and employees can reach their own ‘home office’ arrangement.

Tests are also no longer mandatory, but workplaces can offer their employees regular tests. 

SHOW COMMENTS