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Germany could start COVID-19 vaccinations in first quarter 2021

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a news conference to give an update on a smartphone app that allows users to evaluate their risk of being exposed to the coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, September 23, 2020.      Bernd von Jutrczenka/Pool via REUTERS
German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a news conference to give an update on a smartphone app that allows users to evaluate their risk of exposure to coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, September 23, 2020. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/Reuters

Germany’s federal health minister Jens Spahn said that coronavirus vaccinations could begin in Germany in the first quarter of next year.

"As of now, I would assume that we can start in the first quarter of next year," Spahn said during a video conference with the Ifo economic institute on Monday 12 October.

He said that there are a number of medical companies and manufacturers currently involved in vaccine research, and “if all the horses cross the finish line we will have way too much vaccine.”

Spahn had already predicted last month that vaccinations would begin in Germany in spring of next year. He stressed again on Monday that vaccination would be voluntary, and that authorities would begin by vaccinating high-risk groups first, such as the elderly, medical and healthcare workers, and those with pre-existing conditions.

READ MORE: Germany's BioNTech signs deal with New Zealand for 1.5 million vaccine doses

The federal government in Berlin announced in September that it had chosen three German biotech companies to support in their development of COVID-19 vaccines, allocating up to €750m (£678m, $883m) to help fund their research, development and, if successful, production.

Watch: Cases across Europe increasing as continent rides second wave

BioNTech (BNTX), which has partnered with US pharma company Pfizer (PFE), will receive €375m from the government. It is currently working on developing three different mRNA vaccine candidates.

CureVac (CVAC), focused on one potential mRNA vaccine candidate, will get €230m of funding. IDT Biologika is the third candidate for government funding.

READ MORE: German government defends curfews and travel bans amid outcry from businesses

The government also invested €300m for a 23% stake in Tübingen-based CureVac in June this year. Curevac listed on the Nasdaq in August this year.

Dietmar Hopp, the billionaire majority shareholder in CureVac, said that the German biotech will not be first in the global race to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, but that it plans to have more than 100 million doses available by the end of this year.

READ MORE: CureVac races for 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by end of 2020

As infection rates rise, many German cities have imposed curfews on bars and restaurants, as well as reduced the numbers of people who can meet in- and outdoors.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Germany has had 332,850 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and 9,640 deaths. The government has warned that if measures to contain the rise are not implemented now, cases could quickly spiral out of control.

Watch: What is a V-shaped economic recovery?