Boosters could be needed for 2G venues, says German Health Minister

Karl Lauterbach
Karl Lauterbach (SPD) arrives at the official handover ceremony to take over the role of Health Minister from his predecessor Jens Spahn (CDU). Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Reuters/Pool | Hannibal Hanschke
With early signs suggesting that a booster jab offers better protection against Omicron, Germany's new Health Minister has hinted that future '2G' venues could be solely for people who have had an additional jab in the future.

“Vaccination is only complete when you have been vaccinated three times,” Karl Lauterbach told ZDF on Wednesday.

Referring to a new study that suggested that an extra shot is required to fully protect against the newly discovered Omicron variant, Lauterbach said the results were “not surprising”. 

He emphasised that it was “highly likely” that a full course of jabs would protect against severe courses of the disease, but that an extra dose was needed to help protect against illness in the first place.

Since the new ‘supervariant’ was discovered at a genome sequencing lab in South Africa, around 18 countries have found cases of the new variant. It has caused widespread concern in the medical community due to the unusually high number of mutations it has, which experts say could give it the ability to bypass vaccine protection and spread more rapidly. 

Over the past few weeks, the manufacturers of Covid vaccines have been racing to determine whether their products offer protection against the new variant. 

In preliminary results to their study that were published on Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech revealed that a booster generated around the same level of potent antibodies against Omicron as is seen after a second dose with the initial strain.

But they warned that “the Omicron variant is probably not sufficiently neutralised after two doses.”

READ ALSO: Five challenges facing Germany’s new government

Only four confirmed cases have been found in Germany, though there have been at least eight other suspected cases – and some say there could be as many as a few hundred undetected cases

If the variant starts to spread as rapidly (or more so) than Delta did in summer, the government may therefore be forced to change its definition of fully vaccinated to exclude those without boosters, Lauterbach said.

“If we actually had the Omicron wave here in Germany, then the requirements for ‘2G’ (entry only for vaccinated and recovered people) would only be reached when you have the third vaccination,” he explained.

‘As many boosters as possible’

The Harvard-educated doctor was named as the country’s new Health Minister on Tuesday – a day before Germany’s new government was officially sworn in. 

As an outspoken commentator during the pandemic, he has amassed thousands of followers of Twitter – many of whom called for his appointment as Health Minister under the hastag #wirwollenkarl (We want Karl). 

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Much is still unclear about what he intends to do in the role, though early signs suggest his focus will be on vaccination and evidence-based measures – which could include tough curbs on travel and everyday life. 

On Wednesday, he told reporters his aim was to “bring infections down so much by Christmas that we are able to recommend travel”. 

His entry into the Ministry of Health comes as Germany’s booster jab campaign is picking up pace. On Wednesday, doctors delivered 991,608 booster jabs – setting a new record for the amount of top-up doses given out in a day. 

“We have to administer as many booster vaccinations as possible,” Lauterbach told ZDF, adding that additional jabs would be the best preparation for an Omicron wave “if it were to come”.

Vaccination is the first pillar of protection “that we have in our hands,” he said. 

He has also spoken out in favour of mandatory vaccinations and is expected to vote in favour of the measure in parliament later this month.

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Member comments

  1. Why not have a jab every week?

    Then you can be sure that you have done “everything possible”………………

  2. Thank you for the quote. That’s very interesting .
    Ein so kurzer Abstand wäre möglich, wenn dies “unter dem Gesichtspunkt der öffentlichen Gesundheit wünschenswert ist”. I’d say that it’s desirable! 🙂

    Ok let’s see if Herr Lauterbach is not all mouth & trousers, & allows for three month boosters. Now would be the time!

  3. I haven’t seen anything about it being recommended after 3 months – can you post a link to where you saw this?

  4. They reopened the vaccination center in Mainz where I live. All the Americans on bases, like me, have been getting boosters and they’ve finished vaccinating the 5-11 age group as well. If you’ve met an American in Germany, and they are here with NATO and they are over 5 years old, then chances are they’ve been vaccinated.

  5. I agree totally. Yes, get those centres open instead of the “Dentists & Vets can do it as well” B.S. – Those people are busy already doing their usual job.. Cmon German Beaurocracy, get a grip!

  6. The recommendation is from EMA. I saw it in a corona news blog which says:
    Booster-Impfung laut EMA schon nach drei Monaten möglich

    Booster-Impfungen gegen Covid-19 könnten nach Einschätzung der Europäischen Arzneimittelbehörde EMA auch schon nach drei Monaten erfolgen. Ungeachtet der geltenden Empfehlungen, die Auffrischung nach sechs Monaten zu verabreichen, “sprechen die derzeit verfügbaren Daten für eine sichere und wirksame Auffrischungsdosis bereits drei Monate nach Abschluss der Grundimmunisierung”, sagte der EMA-Direktor für Impfstrategie Marco Cavaleri am Donnerstag bei einer Pressekonferenz der Behörde in Amsterdam. Ein so kurzer Abstand wäre möglich, wenn dies “unter dem Gesichtspunkt der öffentlichen Gesundheit wünschenswert ist”.

  7. Some Hausarzt are willing to innoculate you afte 5 months. And now it is even recommended to have the 3rd jab after 3 months.

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