Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Wednesday announced that Germany is prepared to shell out an extra €2.2 billion ($2.48 billion) of its budget to secure 92 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as the omicron variant spreads and Germany's new government sounds the alarm over dangerously depleted vaccine stocks.
The order will see Berlin purchase 80 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine through EU programs and another 12 million doses on the open market.
Lauterbach said, "We need more vaccines quickly for speedy booster shots and possible omicron vaccinations."
The news came one day after Lauterbach announced that Germany's vaccine stockpiles for the first quarter of 2022 were low.
"Now there is the possibility for Germany to procure additional doses for the next year. We are talking about 92 million doses of BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna," said Lindner during a joint news conference in Berlin.
The plan, which Lauterbach said was essential as Germany experiences a fourth coronavirus wave, was green-lighted by the Bundestag's Budget Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
Lauterbach is expected to address efforts to secure more vaccines, as well as programs for vaccinating children aged 11 and under, on Thursday. Infection and death rates, though down slightly, remain very high in Germany, with health experts warning that more drastic measures may soon have to be taken.
js/sms (dpa, Reuters)