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VACCINES

Germany has already secured vaccines for next year: report

Germany’s health minister said on Saturday, January 30th, that the country had already ordered vaccines for 2022, in case people need booster jabs, Reuters reports.

Germany has already secured vaccines for next year: report
Jens Spahn. Photo: DPA

“We are now actually ordering further vaccines for 2022, to have at least some on hand,” Health Minister Spahn said on Saturday at a virtual town hall meeting.

“Nobody knows if we’ll need a booster… With production capacities now being extended, we’ll order vaccines as a precaution. If we don’t need them, good, but if we do, then they’ll be available.”

Spahn attempted to reach out to critics during the meeting.

“There are vaccines coming every week, and there will also be more, step by step,” Spahn said.

According to the Health Ministry, more than 3.5 million doses have been delivered to vaccine centres and some 2.2 million people have received their first jab. 

Meanwhile, German politicians are calling for more clarity on the exact time scale of the vaccine rollout ahead of a crunch meeting between the German government and pharma industry representatives on Monday.

After facing sharp criticism over the slow start to the country’s vaccination programme, Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes the meeting will bring the rollout back on track and soothe anger among the country’s 16 state leaders. 

Already on Sunday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is reportedly in talks with the CEOs of the manufacturers with whom the EU has concluded supply contracts.

The first few weeks of the vaccine rollout have been accompanied by delivery difficulties on the part of individual manufacturers, problems with scheduling, and rising anger about vaccine shortages. 

Rhineland-Palatinate’s Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) complained on Saturday that a lack of clarity on supply deadlines was making it impossible to plan for more than a few weeks. 

“The quantities of Moderna’s vaccine have been cut by 20 percent, and Astrazeneca’s announcements are subject to change. On this basis, we still cannot reliably allocate vaccination dates,” Dreyer told Bild am Sonntag. 

Hamburg’s mayor, Peter Tschentscher, said on Twitter: “the Chancellery has just announced that the promised deliveries of Moderna vaccines are now also being reduced. How are we expected to plan vaccinations in these circumstances?”

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VACCINES

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid

More than 40 million people in Germany have received at least one vaccination against the coronavirus so far, while a quarter of the population are fully inoculated, new government data shows.

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid
A vaccine is prepared in Munich. credit: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Cracking the 40 million mark means that 48.1 percent of the total population has now received at least a first jab against the disease, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) that was released on Saturday.

Some 21.35 million people have received both jabs while 60.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Germany so far.

This week, for the first time, the million mark in daily vaccinations was cracked on three days, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wrote on Twitter. According to the RKI, about two-thirds of all vaccinations have been administered in vaccination centres, and one-third in doctors’ offices.

Among the states, Bremen continues to record the highest proportion of people with first-time vaccinations at 52.9 percent, with Saxony bringing up the rear at 43.0 percent.

Meanwhile Saarland has the highest proportion of residents with full coverage, at 30.4 percent, and has also administered the most vaccine doses per resident to date.

While the first five months of the vaccine programme were based on a priority list, since Monday everyone resident in the country can register themselves for a vaccine appointment.

Case rate continues to fall

Health authorities reported 1,911 new infections to the RKI on Saturday morning. A week ago that figure stood at 2,294 new infections. The seven-day incidence dropped lightly to 18.3 from 18.6 cases per 100,000 people on Friday.

Nationwide, 129 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours on Saturday.

Opposition plans inquiry into pandemic failures

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats, has said his party will push for a Bundestag inquiry into the pandemic response after September’s national election.

“There needs to be a parliamentary review of this after the election,” Kubicki said on Saturday at a party convention. “That was the announcement of a committee of inquiry,” he confirmed when asked for clarification by a journalist.

Kubicki criticized, among other things, the purchase of “unfit masks” by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). He said that the committee would also look into controversial aspects of the pandemic response including the government’s testing strategy and the disputes over whether intensive care units reached breaking point.

SEE ALSO: 7 things the Covid-19 crisis has taught us about Germany

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