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Germany: Vaccine Story is First Good News in Weeks

A German-American Corona vaccine might be available relatively soon. Germany is already discussing important questions, including this one: Who will be vaccinated first?

Berlin, November 10th, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) —  During the Corona crisis Germany, Europe or the world did not have too many good news. When the infection numbers decreased in spring, people were relieved, but most knew things would turn south again in fall. The good news dissolved a few months later.

German-American Successes

But the fact that the German pharma company Biontech and the American giant Pfizer are ready to apply for the approval of their new COVID-19 vaccine does qualify as good news, at least from today’s perspective. The two companies reported “big successes”, saying the vaccine offered protection from Corona in 90 percent of the cases. No severe side effects have been recorded.

An effective, safe vaccine against Corona is exactly what the world needs as quickly as possible. That is why the approval process in the U.S. might not take as long, in this case, as it usually does. Experts on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean seem to be impressed.

The so-called Phase 3 Study, which is an important step whenever vaccines or medications are being developed, began in summer, in several countries. More than 43,500 people were vaccinated. In this case, a second vaccination is needed three weeks after the first one.

Recommendation for Germany

At this stage, it is unclear whether the new vaccine also protects persons who are already infected from a difficult disease process. Within the next two years, researchers intend to find out whether there can be side effects at all, what they look like and how infected patients react. Several experts in Germany were quoted saying they were hoping for more data, including information about the age groups the new vaccine is most effective in.

According to Biontech and Pfizer, up to 50 million doses might be made available this year, and 1.3 billion of them in 2021. In Germany, a discussion about the question who should be vaccinated first is already in full swing. The country’s Permanent Vaccination Commission published a recommendation in which it says elderly people, members of other risk groups and medical staff should be vaccinated first, along with police officers, teachers and people employed by health authorities.

‘Vaccination Centers’ Planned

Germany’s federal government agrees. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already said that nurses, doctors and risk groups needed to be vaccinated first. A few days ago, Health Minister Jens Spahn stated that up to 40 percent of all Germans were part of risk groups. He included elderly people and persons with pre-existing conditions.

Spahn also said there needed to be a national discussion about the question which population groups should be vaccinated first. He also said the Berlin Bundestag would discuss the big question as well. On Friday, Health Minister Spahn and his colleagues from Germany’s sixteen federal states had agreed on procedural aspects in regard to the supply with Corona vaccinations. The state will purchase the vaccine, while the federal states are supposed to set up ‘vaccination centers’.

Protected Vaccine Dosages

Either the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, or the pharmaceutical companies need to deliver the vaccines before they are being distributed to the federal states, according to the number of their inhabitants. One concern is security. The vaccine dosages will be protected once they are available.

The German government keeps on stressing the vaccination will be voluntary. Jens Spahn has said that 50 to 65 percent of the population needed to be vaccinated in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.