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GPs in Germany will soon be able to ‘choose the Covid vaccine’ they offer patients

Starting later this month, family doctors will be able to order the specific vaccines and amount of doses - rather than being allocated it from the government, German media reported on Friday.

GPs in Germany will soon be able to 'choose the Covid vaccine' they offer patients
A doctor's practice in Brandenburg carrying out injections. Photo: DPA

GPs will be able to “order the specific Covid vaccine” they want to offer people, said the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), according to the Rheinische Post.

“You state on the prescription which vaccine you need and how many doses,” the KBV reportedly said.

The federal government will provide family doctors with the choice of vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

The order quantity per doctor is limited to 18 to 30 Pfizer doses and 10 to 50 AstraZeneca doses for the first week.

It is likely to come into force from April 26th.

The North Rhine Pharmacists’ Association welcomed the move, saying it would help make sure fewer doses are wasted.

“This could also prevent the vaccine from being left in the practice’s refrigerators,” said the head of the association, Thomas Preis. “We will advise doctors to order both vaccines if possible,” he added.

At the moment doctors are allocated a vaccine by the government without choice.

Germany’s vaccine rollout is picking up pace since doctor’s practices starting carrying out jabs.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday that 50,000 medical practices had announced a need for vaccines for the coming week. Last week there were 35,000 GPs giving out shots, and this week 45,000.

The country administered a record 758,173 injections on Wednesday.

In total, about 18.5 percent of the population has received at least one jab. 

READ ALSO:

What’s happening with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

The delivery of the single-dose Covid vaccine to the European Union was postponed this week due to the US investigating reports of rare blood clot cases after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The US urged its health authorities to pause the rollout. However, US health experts believe it will be used again soon.

Germany is waiting for 10 million doses of the vaccine.

COMPARE: The different strategies in Europe used to vaccinate against Covid-19

Berlin vaccination centre closes for two weeks

In other vaccine news, the Berlin vaccination centre at Tempelhof is closing for two weeks from April 21st, reported the Tagesspiegel.

The centre has been using the AstraZeneca to inoculate patients. But now that this vaccine is only for use in the over-60s age group, authorities believe it is no longer worth giving it out in the centre.

During the break the centre is to be refurbished so that BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines can be administered in future.

Due to the properties of the vaccine, special cooling systems are required. In the future, AstraZeneca will only be used by GPs, the federal government said.

Vocabulary

To choose/select/pick out (something) – auswählen

Prescription – (das) Rezept 

Order quantity – (die) Bestellmenge 

Vaccination centre – (das) Impfzentrum 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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