German health minister wants to revamp COVID-19 vaccination strategy

Lauterbach, who was appointed health minister last month, made his comments in an early publication of an interview to be published in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

“If we get a variant that is as contagious as the Omicron, but significantly more deadly, we should be able to develop and produce a new vaccine in a very short period of time,” Lauterbach said.

The government plans to put in place a permanent system to purchase and deliver vaccines quickly at all times, as there could be further serious epidemics, he said.

“We must not fall into the naive assumption that this (the pandemic) will be over soon. It is not over,” he said.

Germany closed large vaccination centers in several states last summer when demand for COVID-19 vaccines briefly fell to a halt before resuming.

The Omicron variant now accounts for 44% of coronavirus infections in Germany, said the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for Infectious Diseases.

On Saturday, the RKI counted 55,889 newly reported corona infections within 24 hours, more than double the number a week earlier.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and regional leaders on Friday tightened the rules for visiting restaurants and bars as part of efforts to encourage more people to get their third shot, or a booster, but have shortened quarantine periods.

The lower house of the Bundestag parliament will also soon discuss a bill for a general vaccination mandate.

(Report by Vera Eckert, edited by Timothy Heritage)

James R. Rhodes