AFP
Wire Service
1 minute read
17 Dec 2021
11:01 pm

Germany must prepare for ‘massive’ new Omicron wave

AFP

Governments around the world are scrambling to speed up booster vaccination campaigns to increase individuals' protection against the highly mutated virus.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks during a press statement following a meeting with the Minister President of Lower Saxony, on December 17, 2021 in Hanover, central Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFP)

Germany, battered by a recent rise in Covid cases, must brace for a “massive fifth wave” due to the new Omicron variant, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Friday.

“We must prepare for a challenge that we have not yet had in this form,” Lauterbach told reporters, adding that even if the variant were “milder” it may make “no difference”.

Were the virus to be less serious than other variants, this might “keep deaths low for two to three weeks, before the growth of the virus would eat up this advantage,” the minister said, underlining that a difficult period ahead was “inevitable”.

Germany has reimposed health restrictions following high case numbers, barring unvaccinated individuals from restaurants and non-essential commerce.

Case numbers have declined slightly but the spread of the more infectious Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, threatens to send new infections up again.

Governments around the world are scrambling to speed up booster vaccination campaigns to increase individuals’ protection against the highly mutated virus.

Germany on Thursday received an additional allocation of 35 million doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus from the European Union to tackle what Lauterbach called a shortfall in doses identified since coming into office last week.

The government has also placed an advance order for 80 million doses of Omicron-specific vaccines being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The proportion of the population to have already received two doses of the vaccine in Germany surpassed 70 percent this week.