Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, Thursday stressed the need for Germany to stock up on COVID-19 vaccine for possible repeat shots next year, and said the nation should do so with or without the rest of the European Union.
Spahn made the remarks during a Berlin virtual news briefing on the countries COVID-19 vaccination program and to mark the opening of BioNTech's plant in Marburg, Germany. He said the new plant provides Germany with an opportunity to plan for the possible need for additional doses of vaccine.
Spahn said at this point no one has been vaccinated for longer than a few months and no one knows how long protection will last, and there may be a need for third and fourth shots next year. He said Germany would be obtaining those vaccine doses on its own if EU members did not see the urgency.
The health minister said BioNTech would be a logical source for that vaccine, as opposed to importing vaccine.
He said, “AstraZeneca is due to supply 15 million vaccine doses for Germany in [the second quarter of 2021]; BioNTech plans to supply 40 million doses. That shows that our main component is indeed BioNTech. And with that this factory in Marburg, as the production of BioNTech in general is very important to us in the vaccine campaign."
Spahn also announced it was stepping up its vaccination program, by administering vaccine through doctor offices. He said in the next week, 940,000 doses will be delivered to 35,000 practices around the country. By the end of April, he expects more than three million vaccine doses will be available for doctors to administer.
Spahn said the move to allow doctors to deliver vaccine “will not be a big step yet, but it will be an important one,” as it will provide yet another structure through which more people can get vaccinated faster.