First batches of Novavax vaccine to arrive in Germany

The first delivery of the new vaccine is expected to arrive in Germany on Thursday.

A medical worker prepares a dose of Novavax
A medical worker prepares a dose of Novavax's Covid vaccine for vaccination during a trial at St George's University Hospital in London. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Alastair Grant

“Nuvaxovid” – the name of the new Covid vaccine from the company Novavax – is due to arrive in Germany on Thursday.

On Friday, the vaccine will be distributed to the states and it is expected that vaccinations with the new substance will be able to begin as soon as next week, though exact timing will be left up to the states to decide.

The first delivery will contain 1.4 million doses and, according to the Federal Ministry of Health, Germany will receive a total of about four million doses of Novavax in the first quarter of the year, with a further 30 million doses following between April and June.

It’s hoped that Novavax could offer a more attractive alternative for previously unvaccinated people who have reservations about the mRNA and vector vaccines. Nuvaxovid is a so-called protein vaccine which contains coronavirus-like particles which stimulate the immune system to produce defence antibodies and T-cells against SARS-CoV-2 and is therefore a more “classical” type of inoculation.

READ ALSO: Can ‘old-fashioned’ Novavax vaccine convince German sceptics?

According to studies, the protection against Covid infection with Novavax is around 90 per cent, though clinical trials were conducted before the appearance of the Omicron variant. Experts expect similar protection against Omicron as shown by the mRNA vaccines – namely short-term protection against infections and long-term protection against severe courses.

As with mRNA vaccines, two doses are needed, and the side effects are expected to be similar, though the two doses can be taken within just three weeks of each other.

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Germany’s Scholz rules out second attempt at vaccine mandate

After an attempt to introduce an over-60s vaccine mandate was rejected in parliament, German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has said his government will not bring the issue to a vote again.

Germany's Scholz rules out second attempt at vaccine mandate

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has rejected the idea of a second attempt to introduce mandatory Covid vaccinations.

“There is no legislative majority in the Bundestag for compulsory vaccination,” he said on Thursday evening after consultations with the leaders of the federal states in Berlin.

Expressing his regret at the lack of support for the move, he said this reality would have to be the “starting point” for any future vaccination drives. 

“I am, of course, disappointed that there was no majority today, I don’t want to hide that at all,” said Scholz. “I am still convinced that it would be right to have compulsory vaccination in Germany. With the Bundestag decision, however, a very clear statement by the legislator had now been made.”

Despite the fact that Covid-19 vaccines have been available in Germany for more than a year, around 24 percent of the population still have no vaccine protection whatsoever.

Of these, around 4-5 percent are too young to get the Covid vaccine, but around 20 percent are either against the idea or still on the fence. 

“We will do everything we can to convince even more citizens of this country to get vaccinated,” Scholz told reporters. “This will require our creativity.”

READ ALSO: Scholz gets stinging defeat in parliament with Covid jab vote

On Thursday, a bill for compulsory vaccination for everyone over the age of 60 was voted down in the Bundestag, dealing a painful blow to its supporters in the traffic-light coalition. 

The bill had been promoted primarily by SPD and Green MPs, including Scholz himself and Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). A motion from the opposition CDU/CSU parties to introduce a vaccine register and potential target vaccine mandates was also rejected by the house. 

‘Bitter defeat’

Scholz is not alone in ruling out the possibility of reviving the vaccine mandate issue. 

Speaking to Tagesschau in Berlin, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the failure of the bill had been a “bitter defeat” that made it unlikely that any future bill on the subject would gain enough support to succeed.

“It’s a clear result that has to be lived with,” he said. “I’m sceptical about whether we can still achieve anything through additional talks.”

In a democracy, he said, this had to be respected.

But he explained that the failure of compulsory vaccination is bad news for vulnerable patients, for those who work to treat and care for Covid patients, and for all those who have to live with restrictions. A new wave of infections is likely by autumn at the latest, Lauterbach said.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister to target undecided in new Covid jab campaign