In the UK, more than a million people have already been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. In Israel, too, there are already around 950,000 people – more than ten percent of the population and more than 40 percent of the over-60s in the country. In Germany, according to the Robert Koch Institute, there were just around 130,000 people on the morning of New Year’s Eve.
One reason is that the European Union (EU) has only bought 300 million doses of vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer. The vaccine of the two pharmaceutical companies, which was developed in Mainz, among others, is already the furthest advanced and the only vaccine approved in the EU to date. The Union had also ordered from other companies, but their vaccines are still in development.
Biontech is working to increase the production of the vaccine
“There was an assumption that many other companies would come with vaccines. Obviously the impression prevailed: We’ll get enough, it won’t be so bad, and we have it under control. That surprised me, ”said Biontech boss Uğur Şahin in an interview published on Friday with“ Spiegel ”. At the moment, the overall number of available vaccines against Covid-19 does not look “rosy”, “because there are no other approved vaccines and we have to fill this gap with our vaccine”. Therefore, they are working with the US partner Pfizer to explore the possibility of increased production of their own preparation.
“We are trying to find new cooperation partners who will produce for us. But it is not as if specialized factories were standing around unused all over the world, which could produce vaccine of the required quality overnight, ”Şahin continues. “At the end of January we will have clarity as to whether and how much we can produce more.”
“Germany will get enough vaccine”
The production of drug-quality mRNA vaccines is complex: “You can’t just switch over so that vaccine is suddenly produced instead of aspirin or cough syrup. The process requires years of expertise and the appropriate structural and technological equipment. We had to build up these skills over ten years. “
On the question of whether Germany can expect a special contingent of 375 million euros thanks to the federal government’s funding to Biontech, Şahin replied to the “Spiegel”: “Germany will get enough vaccine.” But Biontech is a global company and the vaccine should be used worldwide Will be provided. “It is important that older people and medical staff can be vaccinated in as many countries as possible. I believe that we in Germany will be able to cover the most fragile groups well in the coming months, especially the oldest, ”said the Biontech boss.
cm / dpa