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VACCINE

German firm BioNTech boosts 2021 vaccine supply forecast to 2 billion doses

German company BioNTech, which developed the first coronavirus vaccine approved in the West, said Monday it expects to produce 2 billion doses in 2021, up from the previous forecast of 1.3 billion doses.

German firm BioNTech boosts 2021 vaccine supply forecast to 2 billion doses
An employee administring a vaccine in Saxony. Photo: DPA

“We now believe that we can potentially deliver approximately 2 billion doses in total by the end of 2021, which incorporates the updated six-dose label,” said the company, referring to an additional dose that could be extracted from each vial of the vaccine.

European regulators last week approved doctors drawing six doses from each
vial, boosting dosage capacity by 20 percent.

The Mainz-based company, which developed the jab with US giant Pfizer, is planning to open a new factory in Marburg, Germany, in February, expected to ramp up production capacity by 750 million doses a year.

READ ALSO: Germany's BioNTech warns against delaying second vaccine dose

The site will join five other sites in Germany, Belgium and the US shared with Pfizer.

The company said it had shipped nearly 33 million doses by January 10th, more
than a month after Britain became the first Western nation to approve any vaccine on December 2nd.

BioNTech's announcement comes after the EU agreed to raise its orders of the vaccine by 200 million doses, with an option for another 100 million.

But the vaccination rollout has been criticised across Europe, with sluggish starts in nations like France and the Netherlands.

The company added that Covid-19 will “likely become an endemic disease”, and that vaccines would need to fight against the emergence of new viral variants and a “naturally waning immune response”.

The German company said last week that studies show its vaccine works against the new mutation found in variants uncovered in Britain and South Africa.

READ ALSO: Germany's BioNTech says vaccine works against new Covid-19 strains

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COVID-19

German Chancellor Scholz tests positive for Covid after Gulf tour

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has tested positive for the coronavirus and is displaying mild symptoms after returning from a tour of the Gulf, his spokesman said Monday.

German Chancellor Scholz tests positive for Covid after Gulf tour

The 64-year-old Social Democrat is isolating in his apartment in the chancellery, and will attend meetings online, spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

At the weekend, he visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on a hunt for new energy sources after Russia cut gas supplies amid tensions over the Ukraine war.

He signed a deal Sunday for the UAE to supply natural gas and diesel to Germany.

READ ALSO: UAE to supply Germany with gas and diesel 

Meanwhile Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, also of the SPD, announced via Twitter on Monday that she had tested positive for Covid.

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