Biontech vaccination in a practice: GPs are in danger of running out of supplies for initial vaccinations
Christoph Schmidt / dpa
The Hessen Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians warns of a traffic jam for Biontech vaccinations. In the last two weeks of May there will be "hardly any reserves for initial vaccinations with this vaccine," writes the KV head in a fire letter to its members that SPIEGEL has received. "We hear from Berlin that we can hardly expect more than one vial per practice." In one vial, that is, an ampoule, there are only six, a maximum of seven doses of "Comirnaty", as the Biontech vaccine is called.
In its letter, the KV Hessen names two reasons for the expected Biontech deficiency: On the one hand, many medical practices will soon have a second vaccination;
therefore "you should give priority to second vaccinations with Biontech in the phase up to the end of May," advises the KV to the general practitioners in their letter of May 7th.
Because Biontech will probably not increase its weekly deliveries noticeably until June.
Doctors' offices get less Biontech than vaccination centers
On the other hand, "the vaccination centers are still operated unnecessarily and preferentially supplied with this vaccine," write the KV Hessen board chairman Frank Dastych and his deputy Eckhard Starke.
"In the worst case, we even experience the situation described above, where second vaccinations fail in our practices, while the vaccination centers continue to carry out initial vaccinations."
Should the KV's fears come true, the vaccination campaign would be slowed down: not only in Hesse, but nationwide.
Because »Comirnaty« is by far the most important vaccine nationwide with a share of almost 75 percent.
And other federal states are facing similar problems: The Biontech deliveries will not increase significantly until June, many second vaccinations are due.
And doctors' offices are said to be getting less Biontech vaccine (1.579 million doses per week) than the centers (1.801 million).
All of this means: Biontech will hardly be available for first vaccinations.
And "Comirnaty" will also be in short supply in June if the prioritization falls or young people should be vaccinated.
"In the worst case, we even experience that second vaccinations are not available in our practices."
From the letter of the KV Hessen
Many general practitioners are angry.
Because they have massively accelerated the vaccination campaign, which had been pounding for a long time: since they started injecting, the number of daily doses has more than doubled on a national average.
But now the practices see themselves massively disadvantaged.
"Here [...] the politics that we have always criticized are taking their revenge," writes the KV Hessen, "in which the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and, above all, certain state governments that are attached to their vaccination centers have turned the standard supply into a kind of waste disposer."
The statutory health insurance physicians feel that they are »scrap recyclers«, especially because of AstraZeneca.
Because with its vaccine »Vaxzevria« the division is very different from that of Biontech.
While Germany's vaccination centers, according to plans by the Federal Ministry of Health, will only receive just under 173,000 doses this week and next, the practices are to administer more than 2.7 million doses of the substance, which many patients refuse.
"On the one hand there is a good and highly effective vaccine, on the other hand a catastrophic image and the associated collateral problems with vaccination in our practices," complains the Hessian KV head.
"The additional consulting effort is sometimes enormous and is not shown." The practices only get 20 euros for each dose administered.
Germany's vaccination campaign is almost stagnating
This week's vaccination numbers already indicate how big the problems can be due to the Biontech shortage on the one hand and the unpopularity of AstraZeneca on the other.
Although family doctors have around 50 percent more vaccine doses available than last week, the number of vaccinations has barely increased so far.
And: Of the more than 1.4 million cans of »Vaxzevria« provided, the practices inoculated a maximum of 600,000 servings between Monday and Thursday.
This is probably one of the reasons why the federal and state governments have now canceled the prioritization of this vaccine.
It is "hard to beat in absurdity [...] when honorable vaccination centers and thus primarily the Hessian Ministry of the Interior at Vaxzevria first slender a foot and then off the field," write the Hessian KV bosses in their fire letter, "But then complain to us that we are not vaccinating the vaccine enough."
Nevertheless, the KV Hessen appeals to doctors to use AstraZeneca with their patients - especially now when Biontech is so scarce: “If politicians are not adequately fulfilling their responsibility in fighting pandemics, we should try to do it in the interests of our patients and the fight to make the pandemic better. "