Berlin (dpa) – With far-reaching entry bans for people from various countries, Germany is trying to slow down the spread of highly contagious variants of coronavirus.
The measures have been in effect since Saturday for people from Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil, and from Sunday also for those from the African countries of Lesotho and Eswatini. There is also a transport ban on airlines, train, bus and shipping companies until February 17. Exceptions apply to all Germans and foreigners living in Germany, as well as transit passengers and freight traffic.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer defended the measure as “absolutely necessary” to protect the population from highly contagious mutated viruses. The CSU politician also called for refraining from any non-essential trip abroad. He sees this as a “civic duty”. “To travel to mutation areas now without any really compelling reason, I have to say clearly, would be downright foolish,” Seehofer stressed.
In order to contain the pandemic, there are increasing hopes for vaccinations against the virus. After Biontech / Pfizer and the American company Moderna, the British-Swedish company Astrazeneca received approval for its vaccine from the European Union on Friday. However, announced delays in Astrazeneca and Moderna’s deliveries are causing annoyance in the EU.
Moderna confirmed on Friday evening “delivery estimates adjusted for short term”. But these must be caught up quickly. All delivery obligations in the first quarter would be met. Astrazeneca also promised to end the delivery problems. “We are working around the clock to increase capacity,” company boss Pascal Soriot told journalists. You really try everything to get up to speed.
Astrazeneca has received EU approval for adults over 18 years of age with no age limit. In Germany, however, the Robert Koch Institute’s Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) recommended that this vaccine be given only to adults under 65 years of age for the time being because there was too little test data for the elderly.
Stiko chairman Thomas Mertens defended this line. The Astrazeneca data is not sufficient to assess the effectiveness of the vaccination in the age group over 65, Mertens said Friday evening. The virologist added that the Stiko would update its recommendations after submitting more data on efficiency in the elderly. At the same time, he stressed that the safety of the vaccine was beyond question.
SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach welcomed the decision of the EU drug authority EMA. Even if the case group of people over 65 in the studies were small, based on previous studies and experiences with other vaccines, they can also assume that the vaccine will be very effective, Lauterbach told “Welt” (Saturday). In contrast, CDU health expert Karin Maag emphasized in the paper, “As long as there are no adequate studies involving the older group of people, a corresponding age limit for approval makes sense.” FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann joined in and sharply criticized the EMA. “A highly unprofessional decision and dangerous for the credibility of the EMA,” he said in “Welt”.
The slow vaccination in Germany is ruining many local plans to immunize people. Several prime ministers demanded more clarity from the federal government ahead of the federal and state vaccination summit on Monday. “People need clarity when they can be vaccinated, and the federal states need planning security through reliable delivery information from the federal government to be able to offer vaccination arrangements,” said Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) of the Rheinische. Post “(Saturday).
The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig, also stressed the need for clarity and commitment. You need to know when which delivery is coming, the SPD politician said in the ARD Friday night. The mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller (SPD), called for a national vaccination plan on Friday. Müller is also chairman of the conference of prime ministers.
Andreas Gassen, head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurers, warned the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday) before the vaccination summit: “We urgently need clarity on how many cans have been ordered and what is reliably delivered when.” Green boss Robert Habeck told the newspaper: “If the pharmaceutical companies are not willing to cooperate despite the possibilities, the government can consider the licensing requirement as a last resort. Ultimately, more vaccine must come out. “
The head of the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (BPI), Hans-Georg Feldmeier, warned against compulsory licensing or the passing of the previous vaccine licenses. “Regardless of the legal implications, in our opinion licensing to other manufacturers would take at least 12 months or more for vaccine to become available from this production,” Feldmeier told the Rheinische Post.
Union and SPD politicians did not hope that the lockdown, in effect until February 14, would be eased. Union leader Ralph Brinkhaus, however, considers an extension necessary. “Now better for a little longer, somewhat tougher measures than an out-in-out-in, which eventually exhausts everyone,” the CDU politician told the editorial network Germany (RND / Saturday). In essence, many restrictions would likely need to be expanded again. Schwesig said of mutated coronaviruses, “Then, I think, we’ll talk less about easing, but more about tightening.”
Seehofer also urged caution. “At the moment no one can seriously estimate how things will continue in mid-February,” said the Minister of the Interior. However, after all the experience in fighting infections, it can be said that one cannot return to normal immediately and completely. “That can only be done in stages.” Otherwise, a third wave threatens.