Following growing criticism of a slow ramp-up of COVID-19 vaccinations in Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn defended the country’s vaccination strategy on Wednesday.
“I can now conclude 10 more contracts for additional quantities,” said Spahn at a press conference, explaining that the problem was not an insufficient quantity of COVID-19 vaccines ordered, but the initial limited production capacity amid a high global demand.
As of Wednesday, more than 367,000 people in Germany have received the first of two rounds of COVID-19 vaccinations, up 45,000 compared to the previous day, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Wednesday.
“The days of the vaccination launch are days of confidence,” said Spahn, adding that he would understand the population’s desire to accelerate the vaccination program which kicked off on Dec. 27.
Among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Germany are people aged 80 years and above as well as residents and staff of nursing homes. More than 150,000 residents of nursing homes and 176,000 medical staff have already received the first round of vaccination, according to data reported to the RKI.
Following the European approval of the second vaccine candidate from the U.S. biotechnology company Moderna on Wednesday, Spahn is expecting the first doses to be delivered to Germany next week.
In total, Germany has ordered around 50 million doses from Moderna via the European Union, which are expected to be delivered in the course of the year, according to Spahn.
A total of 1.3 million doses of the vaccine by German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and U.S. company Pfizer had been delivered to Germany by the end of last year, with nearly 2.7 million more doses to follow until the beginning of February, according to the German government.