Germany's sluggish vaccine roll out will speed up significantly in April, the head of the country's Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko) said on Saturday.
Thomas Mertens told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that he understood people's frustration with the slow pace of vaccination in Germany, but that the main cause of this was the shortage of vaccines.
Mertens said that in second and third quarters of 2021, the shortage would be reversed by so much that vaccine centers would no longer be able to keep up with supplies.
So far, only around 5.7% of adults in Germany have been given a first vaccine dose, while 2.8% have received two doses.
Mertens also rebuffed criticisms for not involving family doctors earlier, saying that vaccine doses required very specific storage conditions and processes.
Test kits sold out
Officials hope that a ramped up vaccination drive and mass testing will help Germany move ahead with lifting coronavirus restrictions.
Self-testing kits went on sale in supermarkets across the country on Saturday as part of a new coronavirus lockdown plan announced earlier this week.
However, supplies were initially very limited, and supermarkets sold out within a matter of hours.
"We want to assure anyone who left empty-handed that new stocks are coming in the next days," a spokesman for the discounter Aldi told the Bild newspaper.
Rival discounter Lidl offered at-home test kits for sale online, but its website crashed under the load.
From Monday, all residents will be entitled to one free rapid test a week, administered at pharmacies or designated testing centers. Regulators have also granted approval to several DIY tests meant for home use.
Health Minister Jens Spahn has promised there will be "more than enough" rapid tests for everyone, including 50 million free tests a month.
aw/nm (dpa, AFP)