New German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Thursday he is seeking to secure additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine for a swift booster vaccine offensive, which is the center of the government’s strategy for fighting off the new omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Speaking at his first COVID-19 briefing, along with Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI), Lauterbach said 1.5 million booster vaccinations were given Wednesday alone, the nation’s highest single-day total so far.
Germany’s vaccination efforts have picked back up, with an average of some 988,000 people per day being inoculated over the past week.
But Lauterbach said the campaign has slowed because they do not have enough vaccine, and he is negotiating with other countries, including Romania, Poland, Portugal and Bulgaria to get additional doses.
The country said it also hoped to receive millions of booster shots adapted to the omicron variant from BioNtech/Pfizer in the first quarter of next year.
Wieler of RKI told reporters omicron is already spreading fast in places like Britain and Denmark. He said Germany has registered a few hundred cases of the variant and it has been found in all 16 states.
The RKI president also said the delta variant still dominates in Germany, adding that it “is only a question of time until omicron takes over.”
“We expect that this will make the situation even worse for everyone."
Lauterbach said the strategy of government health officials is to try to “keep [impact of] the omicron variant as small as possible” through a fast booster vaccination campaign in an effort to prevent an overload of the health system “and possibly of society in its entirety.”
Currently, 70% of Germany's population of 83 million have been fully vaccinated, below the government’s minimum target of 75%. So far, 27.6% also have received a booster shot, a figure that is rising quickly.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.