German health minister Jens Spahn acknowledged Friday that Germany needs to ramp up its vaccination campaign.
“We still have too much vaccine in the fridge,” he told reporters at a regular health press conference in Berlin. To speed up the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, Germany will aim to swiftly distribute the shots through its network of family doctors’ practices, Spahn added.
Germany has inoculated 5.7 million people with the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine -- 4.5% of the country’s population -- and more than 2% have received the second shot, Spahn said.
Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that the sluggish start of the vaccine program has been a “disappointment” and added that the vaccination centers will soon operate “at full capacity.”
By the end of next week 11 million coronavirus vaccines will have been distributed across Germany's 16 federal states, Spahn said Friday.
Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s public health authority at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), told journalists at the same press conference Friday that the country’s infection numbers appear to be stabilizing in recent days, warning that vigilance needs to be exercised or else “we will risk a third wave.”
On Friday, Germany recorded 9,997 new coronavirus infections -- a rise of 884 cases compared to the same day last week, according to the RKI -- bringing the total for the pandemic to 2,424,684.
Germany coronavirus deaths stood at 394 within the last 24 hours -- a drop of 114 compared to Friday last week. The country’s death toll now stands at 69,519.
The latest data from RKI indicates that the number of new infections per 100,000 residents stood at 63. The goal is to get the incidence rate to 35 per 100,000 in order to reopen the country, Merkel has said.