Vaccination center in Wiesbaden
Photo: Jörg Halisch / imago images
The coming week will be a disappointment for thousands of people in Germany: appointments that have already been set for immunization with the Covid-19 vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer - some of which were costly to get hold of via hotlines - have to be canceled.
The reason is renovation work at Pfizer's Belgian plant in Puurs, which is intended to increase production capacities in the long term, but leads to short-term supply bottlenecks.
Specifically, this means that while the federal states received 842,400 doses of vaccine this week, Pfizer will only deliver 485,550 doses in the week from January 25th.
Hundreds of thousands of doses less are available in the two weeks thereafter.
For this purpose, capacities are to increase again in the week from February 22nd, to more than 900,000.
Only the second dose ensures the high protection of 95 percent
Due to the short-term delivery bottleneck, dates now have to be postponed.
People who have already received a first vaccination are particularly concerned that they may receive the required second dose much later than intended.
Would those affected then be less protected?
One thing is certain: only the second dose ensures the high level of protection of 95 percent.
In the optimal case, there are 21 days between the first and second vaccination with the Biontech agent.
Because it was precisely this period of time that was tested in the large-scale study with more than 40,000 test subjects.
However, experts do not expect the effectiveness to drop rapidly if the second vaccination appointment takes place a little later.
The product from Moderna, for example, was tested with an interval of 28 days between the first and second dose.
That is why the two doses of the vaccine should be given in this time window.
The vaccine is based on the same principle as the product from Biontech and Pfizer and, according to the study results, provides just as reliable protection.
Even if the second vaccination dose is not given until twelve weeks after the first vaccination, many experts believe that a high level of protection is guaranteed.
"As with other vaccinations, you can probably give the second dose after two to three months, since the first dose seems to be very effective," said Peter Kremsner, Director of the Institute for Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen.
In fact, the Biontech vaccine was able to prevent around 50 percent of Covid-19 diseases just twelve days after the first vaccination.
Basically, the second vaccination should only be delayed as long as necessary, warns virus expert Florian Krammer from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in the USA.
It is also decisive how rampant the virus is.
If the infection numbers are low, a time window of twelve weeks is probably not a big problem, writes Krammer on Twitter.
"But if the virus circulation is very high, that's not a good idea."
The UK has already extended the target period for the second vaccination to up to twelve weeks so that more people can get a first dose faster.
Germany has decided against it and is sticking to the recommendation of 21 and 28 days.
"I don't think a production in America would be canceled"
The current delivery bottleneck for the Biontech vaccine is annoying for the federal and state governments, especially because the renovation work was announced at such short notice.
"I don't think a production in America would be canceled," joked Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder.
"That is why the efforts to produce vaccines in Germany are so particularly important."
A production facility in Marburg has already been approved.
Such is the situation in the federal states
is planning to delay initial vaccinations.
, some initial vaccination appointments were canceled, in
some were postponed.
For the time being, there will also be fewer new vaccination appointments in
, no new vaccination appointments are planned for the time being, according to the respective authorities.
, on the other hand, hardly expects delays.
Second dose: In
, no appointments for necessary second vaccinations after the first dose have to be canceled, the respective authorities said.
, however, the appointment allocation could be stretched.
, the districts and cities are responsible for vaccinations; the city of Halle, for example, has secured second vaccinations.
Because many countries have withheld some of the doses delivered, most appointments for a second vaccination are secured.
At the end of December, the Stiko permanent vaccination commission also advocated holding back the second can.
However, this is not stated in the current recommendation.
Recently, however, the pressure on the federal states had increased to inoculate the doses that had arrived promptly and not to keep them for the second immunization.
As a result, more people could get their first dose of vaccination faster.
Inoculating vaccination doses immediately only works if deliveries actually arrive as planned.
Germany has already secured larger quantities than would be necessary to vaccinate everyone in the country.
However, for several vaccines it is not yet clear how effective they are and when they can be approved.
The federal government is still optimistic that anyone who wants to can be vaccinated by the end of summer.
AstraZeneca's vaccine is expected to be approved as early as next week.
Icon: The mirror