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Christmas amidst a pandemic: What are the chances of getting the vaccine at Christmas?

Christmas amidst a pandemic : What are the chances of getting the vaccine at Christmas?

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn is hoping for approval before Christmas. As early as next week, the EMA could report the approval of the Corona vaccine from the companies Biontech and Pfizer in the EU.

Hope is already growing. One very special present for everyone, for the whole country, perhaps might make it under the Christmas tree. Possibly as early as December 21, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) could announce the approval of the Corona vaccine from the companies Biontech and Pfizer in the EU.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has received letters about this in recent weeks, including from carers in hospitals and old people's homes. "We are not your guinea pigs," he read. Or also: "It would be nice if we could go first. This is the range of expectations with which Germany's highest-ranking man on the Corona front is confronted.

Spahn joined the president of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, the virologist Sandra Ciesek and the chairwoman of the Ethics Council, Alena Buyx, on Tuesday to once again send out an appeal to all corners of the republic, along with the hope for a vaccine: Contacts must come down, please! Everyone should understand that. And act accordingly.

Politicians and scientists as role models

Spahn, Wieler, Ciesek and Buyx want to set an example themselves over the Christmas holidays. According to Spahn, he will spend the holidays alone with his husband "for the first time"; they may attend a Christmas mass, but only "if it's possible". Wieler, together with his wife and two daughters, who are both currently "in pre-quarantine", has his parents-in-law as guests. This year, Ciesek and her small family with husband and child are foregoing a visit to the grandparents altogether, partly because the director of the Institute of Virology at the University Hospital in Frankfurt/Main has to be on duty over the holidays. Buyx and her family with two primary school children are also foregoing a visit from the grandparents this time, but has her sister with two children, including a newborn, visiting.

RKI head Wieler says it again emphatically: to actually break the wave, contacts would have to drop by at least 60 per cent. In the lockdown of the past weeks, however, only a 40 per cent drop in contacts has been achieved - clearly too little. "The situation is as serious as it has ever been in this pandemic," Wieler said. The number of infections and deaths is too high. And: "We have to be prepared for the situation to come to a head again over Christmas."

Spahn is counting on people's trust in the vaccine and has therefore deliberately - also for reasons of European solidarity - dispensed with an emergency approval of the longed-for vaccine. Germany, together with the 26 EU partners, is therefore striving for a proper approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Up to 13 million vaccine doses in the first quarter of 2021

He said he wanted a "thorough, but also speedy approval procedure". The vaccination centres in Germany are prepared and have been operational since this Tuesday, he said. He said Germany had secured between eleven and 13 million vaccine doses for the first quarter of next year, which would initially be "exclusively in the possession of the federal government".

Meanwhile, patient advocate leader Eugen Brysch sharply criticised the debate on a faster approval of the Corona vaccine in Germany. "I think this discussion about an approval three days earlier or later is a sham. And those who, like the hospital association, are now calling for emergency approval know that. This is dumbing down the people," Brysch told our editorial staff. "An emergency authorisation would not speed up anything, because such a procedure would have to be started first. The European approval procedure now underway is faster.“

Doctors' president defends the health minister

Klaus Reinhardt, president of the medical association, also defends Spahn in the debate about a quick approval of the vaccine. "The approval of the Corona vaccine is not only about speed, but of course also about thoroughness," Reinhardt told our editorial team. "The European Medicines Agency will meet these two challenges if it can really facilitate a Europe-wide approval in the regular procedure before Christmas," the President of the German Medical Association stressed.

"That would be good news for the particularly vulnerable population groups in our country, for the workers in our health care system and for society as a whole," Reinhardt said. "Every day earlier that we can start vaccinations helps to relieve the burden on our health system and save lives," he said.

(Original text: Birgit Marschall, Holger Möhle and Kerstin Münstermann / Translation: Mareike Graepel)