When will a vaccine be available in Germany and how will its distribution work?
The first vaccine could be available by the end of December. The EU already has contracts with six vaccine manufacturers. From these companies, according to a Handelsblatt report, Germany has secured vaccine doses for a total of 170 million people. The German government expects the first vaccines to be approved at the end of the year or in early 2021.
The first promising candidate is considered to be BNT162b2, the vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer. In tests, it has achieved a relatively high protective efficacy of more than 90 percent. Approval is expected by December 30. However, the exact date depends largely on the results of the approval process. This is because every vaccine only receives approval in Germany and the EU if the manufacturer has proven in clinical trials that it is both effective and tolerable.
For Europe, the approval process for Covid 19 vaccines is coordinated centrally by the EMA (European Medicines Agency).The Paul Ehrlich Institute is responsible for the testing procedures in Germany.
It will take a while before there is enough vaccine to provide coverage for the entire country. This is because several vaccines must first be approved. The current strategy of the Ministry of Health (Bundesgesundheitsministerium) is not yet conclusively clarified. According to the vaccination strategy of the Ministry of Health on November 6, the government will probably follow the recommendations of the Permanent Vaccination Commission at the Robert Koch Institute (STIKO). These recommendations were presented by the commission on Monday (December 7th).
In his press release of December 10th, 2020, RKI head Lothar Wieler emphasizes that this is still a draft. However, the legal regulation is to be drawn up and published before the end of December. There is no concrete timetable yet, but there is a distribution plan for the vaccinations.
According to the STIKO's draft decision for recommending Covid-19 vaccinations, groups in which severe cases of Covid-19 are likely to occur should be protected first. The 62-page paper distinguishes between the following six priority groups:
Priority very high (about 8.6 million people): residents of nursing homes for the elderly and the elderly, people aged 80 and older, personnel in medical facilities with a particularly high risk of exposure, i.e., risk of contracting the disease (e.g., in emergency rooms or caring for Covid-19 patients), medical personnel with close contact with vulnerable groups, caregivers in elderly care (outpatient and inpatient), and basically all people working in nursing homes for the elderly.
Priority high (approx. 6.7 million people): people aged 75 to 80, personnel in medical facilities with a high risk of exposure, people with dementia or an intellectual disability in institutions, as well as people who provide inpatient or outpatient care to these same people.
Priority moderate (approx. 5.5 million people): people aged 70 to 75 years, people with pre-existing conditions with increased risk as well as their closest contacts, people in asylum seeker accommodations, people in homeless accommodations, close contacts of pregnant women, personnel with moderate exposure risk in medical institutions and the wider hospital infrastructure, personnel in the public health service
Priority increased (approx. 6.9 million people): persons aged 65 to 70 years, persons with preexisting conditions at moderate risk of exposure and their closest contacts, low-risk personnel to ill persons in medical facilities, teachers, educators, persons with precarious working and living conditions (e.g., seasonal workers, workers in the meat processing industry).
Priority low elevated (approx. 9 million people): people between 60 and 65 years of age, key personnel in federal and state governments, retail workers, critical infrastructure occupational groups (e.g., police, armed forces, waste management).
Priority low (approx. 45 million people): all other persons under 60 years of age.
Photo by Daniel Schludi