Corona vaccination: why countries have to take the brakes on now

The vaccination center in Düsseldorf has been around for a long time, the staff is there too – only like all other vaccination centers in North Rhine-Westphalia it remains orphaned for a week longer because there is not enough vaccine.

picture alliance / Photo booth / Grosshanten

Three weeks after the start of the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in Germany, the first people were vaccinated for the second time on Monday as scheduled. But what is not going according to plan at all: the speed at which the vaccinations are progressing. In North Rhine-Westphalia, a vaccination stop had to be put in because of delivery delays by the manufacturer Biontech: Hospitals and old people’s homes are not being supplied as planned. In addition, the state’s 53 vaccination centers are not due to start operating until a week later than planned, on February 8th.

In other federal states, too, there is now a threat of a vaccination stop. Reason: There is simply not enough vaccine nationwide. Since the beginning of the campaign in December last year, only 2,739,975 vaccine doses from Biontech and Moderna have been delivered to the countries. According to the Robert Koch Institute, 1,254,760 people had been vaccinated once and 42,670 people twice in Germany by Wednesday, which means that 1.34 million of the 2.7 million vaccine doses have already been used. But because the second dose has to be withheld for those with only one vaccination, the bottom line is that only around 145,000 vaccine doses are available nationwide for new vaccinations.

Only 45,000 vaccinations per day are possible

The situation will not change significantly for the time being. A further 759,000 vaccine doses from Biontech and Moderna have been announced by the end of January, which, together with the remaining 145,000 vaccine doses, could vaccinate around 452,000 new volunteers over the next ten days. But that just means that the countries will then have to significantly reduce their vaccination speed. Up to now, up to 80,000 people have been vaccinated every day nationwide – almost twice as many as foreseeable.

Nevertheless, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) defended her government’s vaccination management on Thursday: “When I ordered the vaccine, I found that we did everything humanly possible.” It does not operate a production plant for vaccines and therefore cannot guarantee production itself. The federal government supports the construction of a Biontech plant in Marburg, which will create additional capacities. Merkel emphasized the expectation that delivery quantities that have been promised for the first quarter will come in spite of modifications in a filling plant of the Biontech partner Pfizer. When asked how quickly a herd immunity can be achieved in Germany, she said that it was up to the citizens to decide how many should be vaccinated. There are also no vaccinations for children, she explained.

Two glimmers of hope remain: According to plans, manufacturer Moderna will continue to increase its delivery volume until the end of February. And by January 29, the European Medicines Agency wants to decide on the approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. However, if there are problems in one of the two cases, a full vaccine should quickly come about in Germany.


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