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Germany is getting ready to start vaccinating its inhabitants against COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are approved and on the market.
The country’s health minister said recently that he expects a vaccine to be available from the beginning of 2021.
Last week, Germany’s BioNTech (BNTX) and its US partner Pfizer (PFE) reported that their vaccine in trials had a 90% efficiency rate, according to preliminary data. The EU subsequently signed an agreement for 300 million doses of the vaccine.
The massive vaccination undertaking, in a country of over 83 million people is going to be a logistical challenge, and the country’s 16 states are already making plans to create hundreds of centres to administer vaccines, according to a Welt am Sonntag newspaper report.
Health ministers are reportedly looking at up to two centres for each administrative district, and six in the capital Berlin. These could be established in big exhibition halls and such spaces.
Vaccination will be voluntary in Germany, but with the second-oldest population in the world after Japan, there is a certain urgency to getting the elderly, and those in high-risk groups vaccinated first.
Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for approving and sending out vaccine batches, told the Welt am Sonntag that it is taking on more staff and is well-prepared to start the roll-out.
German economy minister Peter Altmaier told a newspaper on Sunday that the the country will likely have to “live with considerable precautions and restrictions for at least the next four to five months.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with state leaders today (16 November) via video-conference to decide on the next steps in terms of restrictions for the remainder of the month.
Already, restaurants, pubs, sports centres, and all entertainment venues are shut for the month, but with daily case loads still hovering around the 20,000 per day mark last week, there is talk of perhaps restricting contact even further between households and introducing mandatory mask wearing in schools.
Watch: Self-isolating Boris Johnson says vaccine could be distributed before Christmas