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Germany expects to approve multiple vaccines

September 16, 2020

Germany will most likely have a variety of coronavirus vaccines to chose from in the future, health authorities have said. But limited quantities mean certain groups could be given priority access.

A doctor in Hamburg reaches for a syringe
Image: picture-alliance/dpa-tmn/C. Klose

Germany will likely have access to a variety of coronavirus vaccines in the future, vice-chairwoman of the Robert Koch Insitute's (RKI) vaccine commission, Dr. Sabine Wicker, said in an interview published Wednesday. 

She told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group that the likelihood of multiple vaccines "probable" considering the large number of vaccine candidates. Wicker added that certain vaccines may be more suitable for particular groups, like older individuals. 

Read more: Coronavirus vaccination: What are we actually waiting for?

RKI's vaccination commission is tasked with setting priorities for who would receive a vaccination in the expected scenario that only limited quantities are available initially, Wicker explained. Doing this requires examining which groups are at the greatest risk of infection and determining "who would benefit most from a vaccination," the physician said.

Vulnerable groups that could be prioritized include medical staff, people with chronic illnesses, and the elderly, she said.

Recommendation before vaccine is ready

RKI established a working group to develop vaccine recommendations earlier this year, far ahead of any vaccine being ready.

It was not possible to wait until a completed vaccine had been approved, Wicker said. Instead, the commission had to establish "a framework for recommendations" beforehand. 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn and Research Minister Anja Karliczek on Tuesday said they were confident a coronavirus vaccine would be available in 2021. But Karliczek warned it was likely to be towards the middle of the year. Safety is "absolute priority" in the development of the serum, she said.

How do you create a coronavirus vaccine?

Nearly 30 vaccines in test phase

Spahn and Karliczek also announced that the German government plans to provide €750 million ($889 million) to support the development of a coronavirus vaccine by German companies.

Biotechnology firm Biontech will receive €375 million and biopharmaceutical manufacturer Curevac €230 million. IDT Biologica is also to receive financial support.  

Over 170 projects around the globe are currently working to find an effective vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Tests to investigate health compatibility and effectiveness are already being carried out on human patients in 26 of the projects.

kp/sms (AFP, dpa)