Speaking to German broadcaster WDR 2, Lauterbach said he expected Germany to follow the same trend of countries like the UK – which saw more than 100,000 daily Covid infections in the 24 hours up to Wednesday morning.
“We don’t have a large, fast wave yet,” said Lauterbach. “That will change at the turn of the year and in the first week of January.”
In a three-hour radio programme, the 58-year-old from Cologne answered questions from listeners on the topics of Covid-19 and vaccinations.
Lauterbach, a trained epidemiologist, said he believes a further jab is likely to be needed after the booster shot.
“Personally, I would assume a fourth vaccination (is needed),” he said, but added that this has not yet been scientifically proven.
On Wednesday, Lauterbach said Germany has ordered 80 million doses of Omicron-specific vaccine for delivery in April or May.
But he stressed that the best thing to do right now is to get a booster jab.
“What we know for sure is that we need a booster vaccination,” he told WDR 2.
Booster vaccinations could prevent “70 to 80 percent of symptomatic cases of the disease”, the minister said.
Lauterbach said he could not yet answer the frequently asked question of whether extra jabs would always be needed in future.
“We cannot yet say anything about the vaccination routine,” he said.
He said it also impossible to predict what the pandemic situation will be like in a year’s time.
“Nobody knows,” he said. “That would be looking into a crystal ball. But I assume that new variants will emerge. No one can say whether they will become more dangerous.”
Regardless, one has to keep “flexibility” and constantly adapt the measures to the developments and new medical findings, said Lauterbach.
‘Celebrate Christmas in small group’
Lauterbach said he is now looking forward to Christmas with his family. In view of the current workload as Health Minister, the politician admitted that family time has been “far too short” lately.
He is not planning a big party for Christmas or New Year’s Eve: “I will celebrate in a very small group. Less than five people. I will have a contemplative celebration and that is what I advise everyone to do,” he said, a day before Christmas Eve.
On Thursday Germany saw 44,927 Covid cases and 425 deaths within the latest 24 hour period. The 7-day incidence was 280.3 infections per 100,000 people. Experts warn that reporting figures may not be up to date due to the holidays.
It came as a UK study found that the risk of any attendance at hospital was 20 percent to 25 percent lower with the Omicron variant of Covid compared to Delta, and 40-45 percent lower when the visit resulted in admission for at least one night.
A separate, initial analysis of Omicron cases in Scotland suggested an even greater reduction in the risk of hospitalisation compared with Delta.
Scientists from the Eave II study said the risk of hospitalisation may be 70 percent lower with Omicron than Delta.