Germany should be able to start immunizing people against the coronavirus in the first three months of 2021, said the country's health minister, Jens Spahn. The vaccine would only be administered to those who want it.
While Germany is still waiting for its researchers to develop a coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Jens Spahn predicted on Monday that a vaccination drive was just months away.
"As things stand today, October 12, I assume that we would be able to start in the first quarter of next year," he said.
He emphasized the vaccination would be voluntary. German authorities plan to start the vaccination effort with high-risk groups, such as people who suffer from preexisting medical conditions, the elderly, health care workers and nursing home employees.
While Russia registered a coronavirus vaccine in August, the announcement was met with skepticism from scientists across the world. The US, China and several other countries are also pursuing their own versions of the vaccine. Last month, the WHO said it would not endorse any vaccine before it can be proven to be safe and effective.
Germany is also investing hundreds of millions of euros into medical research companies in a bid to boost vaccine development.
In September, both Spahn and German Research Minister Anja Karliczek expressed hope that vaccinations would start in the first months of next year. Speaking via video-link to the Ifo economic research institute on Monday, Spahn said he stood by this prediction. He also appeared unconcerned about vaccine shortages, pointing to many rival projects to develop the product.
"If all horses reach the finish line, we will have way too much vaccine," he said.
Read more: The impact of coronavirus
The coronavirus has so far killed over 1 million people across the world, including some 9,600 in Germany, according to the data gathered by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
dj/dr (dpa, AFP)