Germany Expects to Receive Vaccines Adapted to Omicron in Early 2022

© REUTERS / THILO SCHMUELGENFamily doctor Elke Happich prepares a syringe containing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to vaccinate patients at their homes in Cologne, Germany
Family doctor Elke Happich prepares a syringe containing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to vaccinate patients at their homes in Cologne, Germany - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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BERLIN (Sputnik) - Germany expects to receive the first deliveries of BioNTech vaccines adapted to the omicron coronavirus variant in the first quarter of 2022, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said.
"We have also reserved a large batch of vaccines from BioNTech through the European Commission. This will be mostly a vaccine already adapted for the omicron variant. We hope that we will receive a part of these 80 million doses as early as the first quarter," he said at a press conference on Thursday.
He noted that "booster" vaccination for the German government was currently the centerpiece of the fight against the pandemic, which is why Berlin intends to actively purchase vaccines in order to maintain a high rate of vaccination.
"We cannot allow our successful booster vaccination campaign — 1.5 million vaccine doses were given yesterday — to be stalled by a shortage of vaccines. Therefore, we are negotiating additional vaccines with other countries, such as Portugal, Poland and Bulgaria," Lauterbach said, noting that the details of these agreements will be announced later.
Over 57 million people in Germany have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, which is nearly 69% of its population.
Lothar Wieler, the president of Germany's Robert Koch Institute, said on 3 December that the Omicron strain was set to cause more infections than the Delta variant amid the overloaded health care system.
Omicron was first detected in South Africa and marked as a variant of concern due to its high infection rates by the World Health Organization prompting countries worldwide to enforce new travel restrictions and public health measures.

The strain is turning up in a growing list of countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Australia among dozens of others.
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