Berlin / Geneva (dpa) – One year after the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Robert Koch Institute is convinced that the third corona wave has started in Germany.
“We have clear signs of this: the third wave has already begun in Germany,” said RKI president Lothar Wieler in an interview with the United Nations Journalists’ Association (ACANU) in Geneva. “I am very concerned.” The strict application of protective measures such as wearing a mask and keeping a distance is still urgently needed despite vaccinations.
The vaccination campaign is a race against the mutating virus. The finish line is in sight: If there are no interruptions due to production stoppages or other reasons, 80 percent of the population could be immune to the virus in the fall. “If that is the case, all measures can be lifted,” said Wieler.
The approval of a fourth vaccine in the EU next Thursday could help alleviate the vaccine shortage. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to recommend approval of the vaccine from US manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. Then the European Commission still has to give its approval – but this is a formality and could take place on the same day.
The European Commission has already ordered vaccination doses for 200 million people. Germany would receive 36.7 million of this. However, there are fears that the company will not be able to deliver on time. The manufacturer assured that he would stick to the agreements and deliver from April.
A large part of the vaccinations – regardless of the vaccine – is carried out by general practitioners. However, the start of mass vaccinations in doctors’ offices could be delayed until mid-April. The aim is to start as early as possible, but no later than the week of April 19. Federal and state health ministers ruled Wednesday after three hours of video consultation as a recommendation to federal and state heads.
The start of vaccination in the practices was initially scheduled for early April on Monday and is now subject to the condition that “the manufacturers’ delivery quantities to be specified take into account April”. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert had announced that Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the state prime ministers want to decide on the recommendations of the conference of health ministers as soon as possible.
The Bavarian Minister of Health and the current chair of the Ministerial Conference of Health, Klaus Holetschek (CSU), described the strategy as a two-pillar model: having built up over the past months. “In the early stages in April, there won’t be enough vaccine available for doctors across the country to get started.” But if the supplies come as promised by the federal government, we can quickly ramp up doctors’ vaccinations. “
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz still expects a rapid increase in the number of vaccinations. “We will have many more vaccine doses available in the coming weeks and months. Every week there are more, several million a week have to be vaccinated. In the summer it’s about 10 million vaccinations a week – in the vaccination centers, in doctors’ offices and companies, ”he told the“ image ”.
The dentists also offered to help with the vaccinations. As licensed doctors, dentists are in principle qualified to perform vaccinations, said the president of the National Association of Legal Dentists for Health Insurance (KZBV), Wolfgang Eßer, the editorial network Germany (RND). “With their expertise and professionalism, the dental profession provided support at an early stage with testing and vaccination measures. The offer is still valid. “
Meanwhile, SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach does not expect GP involvement in the corona vaccination strategy to have a major impact before the end of April. “It is good to involve GPs in the vaccination strategy, even though vaccination levels cannot be significantly increased by the end of April due to the lack of doses,” Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post.
The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. At the time, 118,000 infections had been reported worldwide and nearly 4,300 people died after infection. A year later, according to WHO statistics, there are nearly 120 million infections and more than 2.6 million deaths worldwide.