BERLIN – Germans will be “vaccinated, cured or dead” by the end of this winter, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday, as he rushed additional doses of BioNTech and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to inject into the arms of a third of people in the country who are still unvaccinated.
Germany is experiencing a record number of COVID-19 cases during the current fourth wave of the pandemic, putting hospital intensive care units under increasing pressure – unvaccinated patients being much more likely to become seriously ill.
“Probably by the end of this winter just about everyone in Germany – as it has sometimes been cynically said – will be vaccinated, cured or dead,” Spahn said at a press conference at the haste, in his most blunt warning yet about the risks of holding on. against vaccination.
“But it really is: with the highly contagious Delta variant, it is very, very likely (…) that anyone who is not vaccinated will be infected over the next few months and lack protection.
“In this regard, immunity is always obtained, the question is only whether it is by vaccination or by infection. And we clearly recommend vaccination.”
Spahn angered doctors last week by rationing scarce supplies of vaccine designed by Mainz-based startup BioNTech, which is favorable thanks to its “Made in Germany” status, while saying that no limit would apply to the distribution of doses of the American biotech company Moderna.
In a sharp turnaround, he announced Monday that he was rushing six million more doses of the BioNTech vaccine, while assuring that Moderna was also “a good, safe and very effective vaccine”.
“Many doctors say BioNTech is the Mercedes among vaccines and Moderna is the Rolls Royce,” Spahn said.
The Robert Koch Institute reported a record weekly incidence of 387 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on Monday, with parts of southern and eastern Germany shaded in purple on its color-coded map – indicating crisis levels of over 1,000 weekly cases per 100,000 people.
More than 99,000 people have died from the disease in Germany.
Only 67.5% of Germans are fully vaccinated, a level that has left the rest of the population wide open to infection with the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Speaking last week, RKI chief Lothar Wieler said: “We are no longer talking about isolated epidemics – all of Germany is one big epidemic. This is a national emergency.”
Spahn has denied claims that his ministry was piling up doses of BioNTech. “Everything we have… will be delivered, of course. We are not holding anything back, as I read this weekend,” he said.
Until the end of the year, there will be 50 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine available in Germany – 24 million from BioNTech and the remaining 26 million from Moderna.
“So if we assume we want to do 25 to 30 million booster shots through the end of the year, then a lot of those vaccinations can be with BioNTech, if you want,” said Spahn, seeking to reassure Germans who prefer BioNTech shooting even if the data shows that it is not more efficient than Moderna.
“They are equivalent in terms of safety, in terms of very rare side effects, which are less than 10 cases per 100,000,” said Klaus Cichutek, head of the German vaccine watchdog, the Paul Ehrlich Institute. , about the two vaccines.
“The efficacy was found to be 90 percent and above for both vaccines,” he added.