In light of "encouraging developments" in clinical trials and the expected regulatory approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination centers across Germany would be operational by mid-December, Minister of Health Jens Spahn said in a press conference here on Monday.
Spahn was confident that a first coronavirus shot could be approved and be available in Germany by the end of this year or at the beginning of next year.
"I would rather have a vaccination center that is ready to start and is not in operation for a few more days than an approved vaccine that is not used immediately," said Spahn.
Last Friday, German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and U.S. company Pfizer submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine.
The two companies concluded the Phase 3 trial of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate and announced that it met "all of the study's primary efficacy endpoints" and had a vaccine efficacy rate of 95 percent.
The German government has launched a special program for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine for 750 million euros (892.5 million U.S. dollars), funding the German companies BioNTech, CureVac and IDT Biologika.
"Vaccines are our key for the way out of the pandemic, so it makes sense to support several approaches," said Spahn.
During the press conference, Spahn also announced the planned purchase of 5 million vaccine doses from the German pharmaceutical company IDT Biologika which expects its COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the end of 2021.
In order to support IDT Biologika's effort to build up production capacities, the German government would pay 30 million euros in advance as part of the full purchase price, according to Spahn.
Meanwhile, the number of new COVID-19 infections in Germany remains high and increased by 10,864 in one day on Monday, bringing the total to 929,133, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Last Friday, a peak was reached with 23,648 daily COVID-19 cases.
In the run-up to their scheduled meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday to discuss Germany's response to the COVID-19 situation, the minister presidents of the country's federal states called for an extension of the ongoing partial lockdown until December.
The German Press Agency (dpa) reported that a draft proposal aims to extend the restriction that limits private gatherings to members of two households until Dec. 20, while certain relaxations are also on the cards for the Christmas holiday period.