German Health Minister reveals shortage of COVID-19 vaccine

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Germany’s new Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said he’s in direct contact with manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines to increase deliveries after an inventory revealed a shortage in supplies.

“We have a shortage of vaccine for the first quarter and I have already been working for several days to correct it, Lauterbach, who took office last week, said late Tuesday in an interview with ARD television.

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“I hope I can communicate a positive message about this in the next few days,” he added. “But it’s right that we have too little vaccine and that surprised many when we did the inventory, myself included.”

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Germany’s vaccine campaign has been less successful than in other developed nations, with just 69.7 percent of the population fully inoculated as of Tuesday. That compares with almost 80 percent in France and nearly 75 percent in Italy, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

The pace of vaccinations has picked up in recent weeks, with the focus shifting to administering as many booster shots as possible to lift immunity levels and ward off the potentially rapid spread of the new omicron variant of the disease.

Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has backed the introduction of mandatory vaccinations by the first quarter of next year, and the lower house of parliament is expected to vote on it in coming weeks.

Lauterbach said that it will probably be impossible to ward off omicron completely, given it’s so contagious, and urged more people to get their booster shots.

“We can assume that vaccination only works really well against the omicron variant after the booster shot,” he told ARD. “The pace of booster shots and especially the number of those who aren’t vaccinated will be decisive.”

Read more: Pfizer set to oust AstraZeneca as top supplier of COVID-19 vaccines to poor nations

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