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2021, a year of hope for the vaccine, according to the German Health Minister

Berlin, Jan 13 (EFE) .- The German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, said this Wednesday before the lower house of parliament (Bundestag) that, despite the high numbers of coronavirus infections, 2021 is also “a year of hope “for the beginning of the vaccination campaign. “We are living in a time of contrasts, on the one hand we are living in the peak of the pandemic. But on the other hand, vaccines have been developed at a speed that has never been seen before. We are living in a time of hope,” said Spahn. The minister added that so far more than 750,000 people have been vaccinated and was satisfied with the start of the campaign, but at the same time admitted that there have been setbacks and that one has to learn from mistakes. “It is good that there are criticisms. The one who governs has to explain himself. In democracy we do not believe in absolute truths but we bet on the exchange of arguments based on facts,” he said. The communication, he added, is important to dispel doubts about the vaccine since, he said, “only if throughout this year the vast majority of people are willing to be vaccinated can we defeat the virus.” DEFENSE OF THE EUROPEAN PATH TO ACQUIRE THE VACCINE Spahn defended against some critics that the contracts with the manufacturers to acquire the vaccines have been made through the European Union (EU) instead of having opted for a national route. “It is correct that we have followed the European path. We can not only invoke Europe in speeches on Sunday. Following the European path is in the interest of Germany,” Spahn said. The minister reiterated that sufficient doses have been secured, although not immediately, and that although some countries such as France or Germany would probably have been able to negotiate on their own, other EU members would not have had this possibility, which would have led to long-term problems. “If there were no vaccines from Europe in the south and east, who would have filled the gap? China, Russia?” Spahn said, adding: “What signal would we have sent to our European partners? How could we ask? trust in Germany and in Europe? ” Furthermore, having abandoned the European path would not have solved the problem of production capacities, according to the minister, which is what makes the vaccine currently a rare commodity around the world. NEED FOR PRIORITIES The shortage of doses, which will be resolved as production capacities increase and as other vaccines are authorized, makes it necessary to establish priorities in the vaccination campaign, Spahn said in the Bundestag. In this context, Germany has chosen in a first phase to start with nursing homes, which, according to the minister, also explains a certain slowness in the beginning of the campaign since it implies the displacement of mobile teams. After that, the rate will probably increase, and Spahn said he hoped that by summer all Germans would have a chance to get vaccinated. In the second quarter of the year, according to the minister, the situation will be better than now since the German pharmaceutical BioNTech, which developed the vaccine jointly with the American Pfizer, may have increased its production capacities thanks to a new factory. In addition, the first doses of Moderna, the second licensed vaccine, have already arrived, and the authorization of others such as AstraZeneca is to be expected. (c) EFE Agency

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