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Germany offers Russia support in Sputnik vaccine development

Germany has offered Russia support in Moscow's development of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

Germany offers Russia support in Sputnik vaccine development
The Sputnik V vaccine. Photo: DPA

Russian authorities said Wednesday they have applied for registration of the Sputnik V in the European Union.

“Beyond all the political differences that are currently large, we can nevertheless work together in a pandemic, in a humanitarian area,” Merkel told journalists.

On Moscow's application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the German leader said she has “offered that our Paul Ehrlich Institute … support Russia on it”.

READ ALSO: Merkel and Putin discuss possible joint Covid-19 vaccine production

The Paul Ehrlich Institute is Germany's medicine regulatory body.

“And if this vaccine is approved by the EMA, then we can talk about joint production or also about usage,” Merkel said.

Since Germany began rolling out vaccinations on December 27th in all 16 states, over 1.2 million people have received a jab – but the vaccines are still off to a slower start than was planned.

Russia in August registered Sputnik V — named after the Soviet-era satellite — months ahead of Western competitors but before the start of large-scale clinical trials, which left some experts wary.

Its developers have since said that the jab is more than 90 percent effective and Russia launched its mass vaccination campaign using the shot this week.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund which helped develop the vaccine, says Sputnik has already been registered in a number of countries including Belarus, Venezuela, Bolivia and Algeria.

Argentina began administering second doses of Sputnik V this week, having begun its immunisation campaign in late December.

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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