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After Christmas: Plans become more concrete for the first Covid-19 vaccines in Germany

After Christmas : Plans become more concrete for the first Covid-19 vaccines in Germany

Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be administered in Germany before the new year arrives. Both the government and vaccine producers are making the necessary preparations for a prompt start.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) announced on Thursday that Covid-19 vaccines could begin on December 27 in Germany, provided the EU gives authorization. According to the timeline, the EU Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to give a green light for the Biontech vaccine on Monday, with the EU Commission expecting to approve it on Wednesday. The Biontech vaccine comes from a Mainz-based company and its U.S. partner Pfizer. Biontech reported that there would be work done over the holidays to ensure swift deliveries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) underscored the importance of the development of the first vaccine in the global fight against the pandemic. "When we see how many people are dying from coronavirus right now, you know how many lives this can save," she said at the start of a video conference with Biontech founders Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci. She added that the German government is "mighty proud" that there are researchers like them in Germany.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also praised the achievements of the two, who have Turkish roots. They didn’t give up, but believed in their technology, Merkel said.

Biontech CEO Sahin said, "Our employees will work over Christmas to see that this is really possible, that the vaccine arrives in every country." Chief medical officer Türeci said more than 140,000 people have already been vaccinated in the United Kingdom.

The data collected on how well people tolerated the drug coincided with findings from the clinical trial. "The milestone will now soon be reached," she said, referring to the expected use of the vaccine in Germany. But the marathon is not over yet, she added.

Covid-19 vaccinations are also slated to begin in other EU countries on December 27. But EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote Thursday on Twitter that some EU countries would first begin with the vaccines on Dec. 28 or 29. "This is Europe's moment." Commission spokesman Eric Mamer explained that a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected Dec. 21. The commission then plans to decide on approval "within two days." The company plans to deliver the vaccine on Dec. 26, he said. After that, the EU states are expected to organize distribution and vaccinations.

Spahn explained that before distribution, the government-owned Paul Ehrlich Institute in Germany would test all batches of the vaccine. Then the first doses could actually be given out. At the start, vaccinations are to be administered in 442 regional vaccination centers in Germany. Mobile teams will also go to nursing homes and hospitals. Only limited quantities of the vaccine are expected at the start.

As a legal basis for prioritizing who gets vaccinated first, Spahn plans to sign a vaccination decree this Friday. "Our goal is to first protect those who are over 80 years old and who live or work in nursing homes and homes for the elderly, in order to first protect the most vulnerable with this very effective vaccine."

SPD health expert Sabine Dittmar hopes that 1.5 million people could be vaccinated by February. Fast action is urgently needed in view of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, she said.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) urged people to have confidence in the vaccinations. No compromises had been made in testing the vaccine's safety and efficacy, she said in the video conference with Biontech's founders. It has been tested with a review group of 44,000 people, she said. As a result, they have much more data on safety and efficacy than usual. A normal Phase III trial usually involves only 5,000 or 10,000 people, she said.

Orig. text: German Press Agency

Translation: ck