Germany steps up vaccination drive with record 656,000 jabs in a day

Germany has achieved a record number of Covid-19 vaccinations in one day after family doctors were allowed to start giving out jabs.

Germany steps up vaccination drive with record 656,000 jabs in a day
A patient being vaccinated at a GP in Kranichfeld, Thuringia. Photo: DPA

On Wednesday, around 656,000 doses were administered to people in Germany – 290,000 more than the day before, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

This week around 35,000 GP surgeries have started vaccinating patients across Germany’s states, helping to boost the speed of the inoculation campaign.

This graphic by the RKI shows the major increase in vaccinations within a day in Germany. The light blue shows people who’ve had one shot and the dark blue means both doses or fully vaccinated.

More supplies of coronavirus vaccines have also been arriving since the beginning of April.

Up until this point, no more than 367,000 vaccine doses had been administered in Germany on any given day. 

In total, 16.26 million vaccine doses have been administered since the start of the rollout at the end of December. Almost 14 percent of residents in Germany have received one dose – up from 13 percent the day before. Almost six percent of the population has received both doses.

READ ALSO: Germany’s GPs begin vaccinating patients against Covid-19

What’s the situation across states?

There are still large differences in vaccination progress between the federal states.

The front-runner is Bremen, where 16.5 percent of the population has been given one dose.

This is followed by Saarland (15.9 percent have had one dose), Schleswig-Holstein (15.8 percent), Brandenburg (15.5 percent), Thuringia (15 percent), Saxony-Anhalt (14.6 percent), Rhineland-Palatinate (14.3 percent), Berlin (14 percent) and Bavaria (13.9 percent).

The most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, was able to improve its ranking after the start of vaccinations among GPs and is now at the national average of 13.8 percent.

It is followed by Hamburg (13.7 percent), Baden-Württemberg (13.4 percent), Lower Saxony (13.3 percent), Hesse (13 percent), Saxony (12.8 percent). Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, with 12.5 percent, is the state with the lowest percentage of vaccinated residents in Germany.

READ ALSO: GPs in Germany call for vaccines to be given according to health not age

Initially, only a small supply of doses is available to family doctors. In the first week, all practices together will receive 940,000 vaccine doses a week.

That amounts to about 26 doses per practice per week. In the week of April 26th, however, there will be a significant boost to resources – and at that point GPs can expect a total of more than three million doses each week.

Germany has been criticised for a sluggish vaccination programme met with supply shortages and an ongoing controversy over the use of the AstraZeneca jab. Spahn previously promised that as many vaccines would be carried out in April as during the first quarter of the year.

Member comments

  1. On Monday April 12th, the UK will have reached herd immunity against Covid-19. On the same day, Germany celebrates allowing GP’s to vaccinate 26 people per week and potentially heads into a sixth month of lockdown. #thirdworld.

  2. I cant have flu or pneumonia jabs so I won’t be getting this one. Nobody knows what the long term effects are of these g.t “vaccines that have been produced in such a short time. Also people who have had them have been told they still have to wear masks and socially distance and that they can still spread the virus. They are being told its so they dont get very sick and end up in ITU.

  3. Finally some good news, but I still believe that people should be automatically informed when they are eligible for the first Dose, & where, so they can make an appointment. At the moment it feels like you need to keep ringing your Doctor, or some mysterious number, just to even find that out! I mean we are all registered at a particular address with D.O.B. noted, so they can easily find us!

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Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?

A single vaccine dose has been shown to be largely ineffective against the Delta variant of Covid-19 - so German health experts are considering whether a shorter gap between the first and second dose is needed.

Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?
A sign directs people to the vaccination centre in Berlin's now-defunct Tegel Airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Soeren Stache

With the the proportion of Delta variant Covid cases rising in Germany, experts are currently mulling over a new strategy to combat it: shortening the intervals between the first and second dose of the vaccine.

The new approach is being considered in light of the fact that vaccinated people are likely to be protected highly infectious variant – but only if they have had all necessary doses of the vaccine. 

READ ALSO: Share of Delta variant Covid cases in Germany almost doubles in a week

“The question is not a trivial one,” Thomas Mertens, the head of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), told DPA.

According to the Ulm-based virologist, there are various pros and cons to shortening the gaps between doses.

“We are currently trying to secure the necessary evidence,” he added.

So far, Stiko has been recommending longer intervals between the two vaccinations than the intervals stipulated by regulators when the vaccines were approved. 

There are good reasons for this: with AstraZeneca, for example, evidence suggests that the longer you wait between vaccines, the better immunity you have.

With limited doses of vaccines available – and ongoing supply issues – there is also an argument for providing as many people as possible with the first dose, so that as many people as possible are at least partly protected against the virus.

READ ALSO: ‘Vaccinate quickly’: German states seeing surge in Delta variant Covid cases

For AstraZeneca, the previous advice from the panel of experts at Stiko is to allow twelve weeks to elapse between the first and second dose. For the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – the recommended interval is six weeks.

According to the pharmaceutical regulators, however, a faster course would be possible: two BioNTech doses three weeks apart, with Moderna and AstraZeneca given four weeks apart.

In the case of the AstraZeneca vector vaccine, according to the Health Ministry, those wishing to be vaccinated are free to agree the interval individually with doctors within the permitted period of four to twelve weeks.

“A certain distance improves the effectiveness of the vaccine”

Helge Braun (CDU), Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, told the Morgenmagazin on Thursday that the government’s main challenge was to offer all over-12s at the least one dose of the vaccine by the end of summer.

READ ALSO: ‘This can be a good summer’: Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid

Regarding the timing of the second dose, the main concern should be effectiveness, he said.

“We just know that a certain distance improves the effectiveness of the vaccination,” he told reporters. 

When pressed on whether shortening the intervals between doses was the advice of the hour, Braun said it wasn’t.

On Twitter, German immunologist Carsten Watzl pointed out that, while cases of Delta were rising as a proportion of infections due to falling infection rates overall, the actual number of infections with Delta was still stable – and may even be declining. 

This means that the longer, 12-week interval for AstraZeneca vaccinations could be still be used as long as people were fully vaccinated by autumn, he said. 

The virologist Christian Drosten has been pointing out for a long time that the first jab is not particularly effective against Delta. 

This is also the view of Watzl, who would like to see the majority of people fully protected in time for a potential fourth wave of the virus. 

“The second vaccination is urgently needed in order to be able to properly ward off the mutations,” he said in a recent interview with the German Press Agency.

“Shortening the current vaccination intervals, especially of BioNTech, of course makes sense in order to achieve complete inoculation as quickly as possible,” said the chief executive of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, on Wednesday.

“The maximum vaccine interval for BioNTech is only justified by the lack of vaccines.”

In Germany, increased shares of the Delta variant, first discovered in India, are now being recorded.

However, the number of cases caused by the mutation has only increased relatively slightly so far, while the trend for infections caused by the still dominant Alpha variant is declining more sharply.

In the future, it is expected that Delta will overtake Alpha as the dominant variant of Covid-19 in Germany.