COVID digest: Fourth jab might not be needed, says German minister | News | DW | 22.01.2022

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COVID digest: Fourth jab might not be needed, says German minister

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said three COVID-19 jabs could be enough for "any vaccine mandate" in Germany. Meanwhile, thousands took to the streets to protest coronavirus restrictions in Europe. DW has the latest.

A German vaccination certificate showing three entries of COVID vaccinations

Three jabs against COVID might be enough for a German vaccine mandate

If Germany introduces compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations, a fourth vaccine dose might not be necessary, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

"Anyone who has had three vaccinations with mRNA vaccines or a similarly effective vaccine today or in the future has a good basic immunization. So today's triple vaccination would be enough for any vaccine mandate," he said.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 135,461 new infections — 57,439 more cases than last Saturday.

It also reported 179 deaths, bringing the country's total to 116,664.

Earlier in the week,  Lauterbach — a trained epidemiologist — predicted hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus infections per day by mid-February.

He also reiterated his call for a general vaccine mandate.

More than 50% of Germans, 41.7 million people in the country of some 82 million, have received a booster vaccination.

Over 75% of the population have received at least one dose, and the federal government wants to raise that number to 80% of by the end of January.

Watch video 02:09

Germany's schools reopen despite wave of omicron variant

Here's the latest on coronavirus from across the globe:

Europe

Thousands of people protested in several European capitals against vaccine passports and other COVID-19 restrictions imposed on people holding out against vaccinations.

About 3,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of central Stockholm. Sweden requires vaccine certificates from anyone wanting to attend indoor events.

In neighboring Finland, about 4,000 demonstrators protested in Helsinki against restrictions, including the right of restaurants and event organizers to require vaccine passports.

In the UK, the daily infection rate dropped to 76,807 on Saturday from 95,787 on Friday. Thousands of people opposed to vaccinations protested in London outside the BBC and later marched to Downing Street.

UK police officers stand amid smoke and medical uniforms during a rally against vaccine rules in London

Some healthcare workers joined a rally in London to protest COVID-19 rules

There were also small-scale demonstrations all over France just two days before tighter COVID-19 restrictions are expected to come into force. The country is set to introduce a new vaccine health passport on Monday. The move would exclude unvaccinated people from restaurants, sports arenas, and other venues.

Opponents of the policy say the reinforced measures will impinge upon daily "freedoms" and railed against what they dubbed a form of social "apartheid."

Poland reported a record 40,876 new daily infections on Saturday.

The country is experiencing a fifth wave, and health authorities fear that it will peak at about 140,000 daily infections.

The country of about 38 million people has one of the world's highest COVID-19 death rates per capita, having recorded 103,819 deaths so far.

Italy reported 171,263 COVID-19 related cases on Saturday, lower than the 179,106 the day before, and the number of one-day deaths fell to 333.

Watch video 02:48

COVID-19: How is Italy's vaccination campaign going?

Africa

An outbreak of COVID-19 has hit the Comoros team at the Africa Cup of Nations. A total of 12 cases have been detected in their camp.

The Comoros Football Federation said it includes goalkeepers Ali Ahamada and Moyadh Ousseni. Coach Amir Abdou, was also in quarantine.

The island nation's team is scheduled to take on hosts Cameroon in the last-16 round on Monday.

Watch video 02:43

AFCON: Football fever in Cameroon

Middle East

Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla said the drugmaker could seek approval for a redesigned vaccine to fight omicron, and mass produce it, as soon as March.

He also told Israel's N12 News an annual COVID-19 vaccine would be preferable to more frequent booster shots.

"Once a year - it is easier to convince people to do it. It is easier for people to remember," Bouria said.

Asia

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam urged people to avoid gatherings ahead of next week's Lunar New Year.

Lam also defended a decision by authorities to cull thousands of hamsters.

A spate of Delta cases had been linked to a pet shop worker at a store where 11 hamsters also tested positive for COVID-19.

"I understand that pet owners are unhappy. ... The biggest public interest is to control the pandemic," Lam said.

Hong Kong, like mainland China, pursues a "zero-Covid" strategy to eliminate the disease.

Tokyo on Saturday recorded 11,227 new cases, the highest daily tally for the fourth consecutive day. Japan exceeded 50,000 cases for the first time as omicron continued to spread.

lo/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Watch video 03:48

South Africa optimistic as omicron wave recedes