Experts, politicians slam Germany for not buying adequate coronavirus vaccine doses

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Representative Image

Berlin [Germany], January 3 (ANI): Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, experts and politicians slammed Germany for not buying enough doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to quickly roll out its immunisation programme.

"I consider the current situation a gross failure," said Frauke Zipp on Saturday, a neurologist and member of the advisory Leopoldina Academy of Sciences told Die Welt (DW) newspaper. "Why didn't they order much more of the vaccine during the summer just to be safe?" she added.

As a member of the EU vaccine procurement scheme, Germany is reliant on regulators at the European level granting authorisation of the vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. But the EU has taken longer than countries like the UK, the US and Canada to give the go-ahead, reported DW newspaper.

So far, only the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is permitted in EU member states, but the block as a whole only made an order for 300 million doses during the summer, in the belief that more vaccine alternatives would be available.

Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn has shrugged off any suggestion the government has been lackadaisical in its approach towards vaccinating the country. "Things are going exactly as it was planned," reported broadcaster RTL.

Spahn said he anticipated a shortfall at the beginning and that the government would have to "prioritise" who would be vaccinated but that all nursing home residents would receive the inoculation by the end of January, reported DW newspaper.

Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister also defended the EU's vaccine strategy saying that the Commission had secured almost two billion doses with six different manufacturers, reported German radio broadcaster RBB.

The BioNTech founders said on Friday that they were scrambling to boost production after being pressured to fill the gaps caused by the EU's blunder, reported DW newspaper.

However, Karl Lauterbach, health expert for the centre-left Social Democrats, criticized the EU for not having ordered more BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines early on.

Citing Rheinische Post newspaper, "It was clear early on that the Moderna vaccine had a strong efficacy and could be used by GPs," said Lauterbach.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with state premiers on Tuesday to discuss a probable extension of the current lockdown -- which is set to end on January 10.

The current infection rate in Germany is 141.2 according to the Robert Koch Institute. However, this number varies hugely across the country, with some regions of Saxony recording rates of over 500, reported DW newspaper. (ANI)