Germany’s COVID vaccine campaign ‘showing effect’


German Medical Association President Klaus Reinhardt on Tuesday said the country was on the home stretch with its vaccine campaign.

While Germany has vaccinated only about 8% of its population with two doses of the vaccine, about 28% have had a first jab.

After a sluggish start to its vaccination program, Germany has picked up the pace with more than a million jabs administered in one day last week.

Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF, Reinhardt said what while the vaccination overage was “still far too low to give the all-clear,” it was “nevertheless showing effect.”

“We’ve had declining incidence figures for a week now,” said Reinhardt. “I’m sure that this trend will continue.”

While herd immunity is only achieved when about 70% of the population has antibodies, Reinhardt said that transmission drops as vaccinations rise.

The example of Israel, he said, showed that from the moment 20% percent of the population was vaccinated, “the incidence rate decreased rapidly and continuously, down to almost zero.”

Reinhardt said he believed it was “very appropriate” to say that Germany was on the “long home stretch” when it came to a return to normality, thanks to the vaccination campaign. “It should give people a bit of hope,” he added.

Germany Gives Record 1.1 Million Covid Shots as Cases Ease


Germany administered a record of just under 1.1 million Covid-19 shots Wednesday, further accelerating efforts to control the pandemic in Europe’s biggest economy.

General practitioners administered a total of 730,000 doses, and vaccine centers another 360,000 shots, accounting for more than 1% of the population for the first time, Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a news conference in Berlin.

“That shows how much speed we’ve gained,” Spahn said. “It’s not enough yet to gain herd immunity in the population, but every shot offers protection.”

After a sluggish start, Germany is helping lead the charge in Europe’s quickening Covid vaccination campaign, with 25.9% of its residents now having received a single dose and 7.5% fully covered.

Germany could start offering COVID vaccines to everyone by June


German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday that he expected coronavirus vaccinations to be available for all those willing to be vaccinated in Germany by June at the latest.

He told Germany’s upper house of parliament that he assumes “that we can lift the prioritization in June.” He said he would be happy if it were possible even earlier.

Currently, half of people over 60 in Germany have already been vaccinated at least once, Spahn said, adding that the pace of vaccinations will pick up now, with the number of available vaccines and inclusion of distribution practices increasing. Currently, more than one in five in the population will have received a first vaccination, and by the end of May, that figure will be one in three.

According to the Federal Health Ministry, around 21.6% of the population had received a first dose by Thursday, while 5.7 million people, or 6.9% of Germany, had been fully vaccinated.

“A total of more than 23.6 million doses have been given so far, with 689,000 yesterday, ” Spahn wrote on Twitter.

15% of Germans have been vaccinated, says RKI


More than 15% of Germans have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control revealed on Sunday.

The figure represents a more than 25% increase compared with a week earlier, and is the latest sign that a sluggish start to Germany’s vaccine rollout is over.

RKI data showed some 12.7 million people had received the vaccine, of which almost 5 million had received the required two shots.

Several studies indicate a single dose already gives some level of protection against the virus.

General practitioners in Germany joined the country’s rollout on Wednesday and now that more vaccines are available, an increase in the number of daily doses administered has climbed, peaking at more than 700,000 on Thursday.

RKI reports over 600,000 vaccinations for Germany for the first time


The vaccination campaign in Germany is picking up speed. The Robert Koch Institute reports a new vaccination record for Wednesday. With 656,357 first and second vaccinations, the old best value is clearly exceeded.

With the involvement of general practitioners, the pace of corona vaccinations in Germany has increased significantly. On Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute reported 656,357 first and second vaccinations within one day – this is by far the highest value since the start of the vaccination campaign in Germany.

More than 300,000 of these were general practitioners, almost 565,000 were primary vaccinations. This means that 13.9 percent of citizens in Germany have been vaccinated against Covid-19 at least once.

At the start of this week, around 35,000 medical practices in Germany received a total of 940,000 vaccine doses. So, on average, almost 27 cans went into each practice. “But by the end of April we will be able to triple this amount,” promised Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Then a total of three million vaccines should go to the practices every week. The basic rule is: 2.25 million vaccine doses per week are reserved for the vaccination centers. Anything beyond that goes to the doctors.

European regulator says Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’


The European Union’s medicines agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” to use following an investigation into reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after more than a dozen European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden – halted the vaccine’s rollout over clotting fears.

The EMA said the benefits outweigh the risks – and the vaccine is not linked to an “overall risk” of blood clots.

However, the agency’s safety committee has also said it can’t rule out a potential link with a “small number of cases” of a rare clotting disorder occurring after the vaccination.

It has therefore recommended that governments “raise awareness” of the possible effects by including them in product information.

Oxford vaccine does protect older people, Europe told


A single Covid vaccine dose gives high levels of protection against severe disease, even in the oldest age groups, more evidence shows.

A study on patients in two Bristol hospitals found both Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca jabs prevent 80% of hospital admissions among over-80s.

Some European countries are refusing to use the Oxford jab on older groups because of a lack of convincing data.

Lead researcher Prof Adam Finn said the findings should change their minds.

France agreed to offer the vaccine, which is easier to store than the Pfizer jab, to over-65s only recently, while Germany still isn’t doing so.

“This study is much more important for non-UK countries than it is for the UK,” said Prof Finn, who is running the study at the University of Bristol.

In the UK, this age group has now been immunised, he said.

“But there are lots of doses of AstraZenena vaccine available in European countries and they are not being given to people over the age of 65 – in some countries over the age of 55 – for lack of data.

“Well here are the data… showing that you can save lives in elderly people by giving them a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and those countries need to get on and start doing that as fast as possible.”

COVID-19 vaccines touch down in Australia, New Zealand, inoculations to start


Australia and New Zealand have received their first COVID-19 vaccine deliveries and will begin rolling out inoculations in the coming week, while populous cities of Melbourne and Auckland remained locked down following the emergence of new cases.

“The Eagle has landed,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Monday as the first shipment of 142,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech touched down.

Vaccination in Australia will start from Feb. 22.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the first batch of 60,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines had arrived and would undergo safety checks before border workers start receiving vaccinations from Saturday.

“This will be the largest full-scale vaccination campaign in this country’s history,” Ardern said.

“We have purchased enough vaccines to cover all New Zealanders and to do so for free. That includes all those in New Zealand regardless of their visa status,” Ardern said.

German sniffer dogs detect COVID-19 with 94% accuracy


A German veterinary clinic has trained sniffer dogs to detect the novel coronavirus in human saliva samples with 94% accuracy.

The dogs are conditioned to scent out the “corona odour” that comes from cells in infected people, said Esther Schalke, a vet at Germany’s armed forces school for service dogs.

Filou, a 3-year-old Belgian Shepherd, and Joe Cocker, a 1-year-old Cocker Spaniel, are two of the dogs being trained at Hanover’s University of Veterinary Medicine.

“We did a study where we had dogs sniffing samples from COVID-positive patients and we can say that they have a 94% probability in our study … that they can sniff them out,” said Holger Volk, head of the veterinary clinic.

“So dogs can really sniff out people with infections and without infections, as well as asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID patients,” he added.

New vaccines are “highly adaptable” and can be tweaked against COVID-19 variants, experts say


With mutations to the COVID-19 virus surfacing around the world, there’s growing concern over whether newly released vaccines can keep up. But experts say the advanced technology used to create them is a significant advantage.

“That is clearly an advantage of the mRNA platform. I mean this is highly adaptable, flexible,” said Stanford immunology professor Bali Pulendran, Ph.D.

Pulendran is describing the technique used by both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, known as messenger-RNA. Essentially, it’s a genetic script delivered into the body. It instructs our cells to make a safe fragment of the COVID-19 virus, coaxing our immune system into cranking out antibodies to attack it. And he says that script can be efficiently rewritten if necessary.

“So now we’re in the situation of having to tweak it by a few mutations here and there, and I expect that this could proceed quite rapidly,” said Pulendran.

Vaccine maker Moderna has already announced that it’s working on a new booster for its vaccine. It’s aimed at the so-called South African variation of the virus, which has some researchers concerned. Pfizer’s bio-tech partner in Germany says it could be able to adjust it’s RNA coding in as little as six weeks, if there’s a serious challenge.